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Town Square

District outlines 'possible reductions' to balance budget

Original post made on Jan 7, 2010

In a document released Thursday afternoon, the Pleasanton Unified School District outlined the budget challenges they face in the current school year and beyond.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 7, 2010, 4:55 PM

Comments

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Posted by Do you see what I see?
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Jan 7, 2010 at 6:29 pm

The biggest cut can be in Step & Column freezes? What are the teachers going to do this year?

Let the fur fly....


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Posted by Parent of PUSD students
a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Jan 7, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I find it absolutely amazing that nowhere in this story is the $40k the district is paying to find a new Superintendent because they refused to share the cost with Livermore. Also, I fail to see the cost of the assistant superintendents who luckily had their contracts just extended for 3 years at the same pay they had before. These people are part of the team that made some really bad financial decisions that has made our financial situation worse!

Now we get to start the teacher-bashing. My students are in middle school and high school and despite the larger class sizes, I have noticed no change in the top quality teaching my students get. My high school student went in to see their English teacher who was in at least 3 days over break to help students with their research papers, since there are too many students in the class (35) to give them all enough individual help during the school day. I constantly hear from other parents about all the extra hours these teachers are giving to ensure their students success.

The reason the current cutbacks have been almost invisible to parents and students is because of the extra work our teachers are doing. Why would we want to talk about punishing them for a situation they are working to fix and had nothing to do with creating!


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Its not about punishing them. Its about coming to terms wih the current state of our economy. Bottom line, the school district does not have the same level of revenue they did in previous years - changes need to be made. In the private sector when this occurs salaries are reduced, people are laid off, rarely does the private sector seek out additional sources of funding to continue on with a cost structure that exceeds revenue. Instead, they typically scale back to remain profitable.

I think what many in the public sector have been sheltered against (until now) is the realization that with a global economy we are no longer competing against "like" industrialized nations. We're competing against low cost developing nations. This puts a downward pressure on salaries in order for companies to remain competitive. Teachers today are not competing with teachers in China for the same job, where as an engineer in a software company is competing against an Engineer in another country for the same work. This global competition has pushed down our salaries which in turn reduce the amount of taxes our government collects from us, which obviously trickles down to lower revenue for the schools. Its time for those in the public sector to realize $86,000 for nine months of work including a pension benefit isn't sustainable (and IMO it isn't even in line with what the market would set as equitable compensation).




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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:07 pm

"I fail to see the cost of the assistant superintendents who luckily had their contracts just extended for 3 years at the same pay they had before."

What!? Are you saying that just before we bring in a new superintendent that the assistant superintendents were just given 3-year contract extensions? Where did you see this? I can not think of a worse thing to be doing at this time. Is this really occurred, things are even more out of control than I thought.


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Posted by Keep cuts away from the classroom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:07 pm

In my opinion, the cuts to implement, so that we keep them away from the classroom are:

- freeze step and column (1.6 million)
- Reduce work days (450K per day). We can probably use one whole week less; since the kids only do field trips and stuff, and there is no educational anything going on during the last week of school, plus the kids get the entire week of thanksgiving off, I think we can just shorten the school year by 5 days. This would save about 2.2 million.

1.6 + 2.2 = 3.8 million, which is about the amount of the projected deficit


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

What's the deal with the $7MM some encroachment of special ed. on the general fund? And did anyone notice that the encroachment is expected to grow? What is the district doing to address that encroachment?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Pleasanton Parent wrote: "Bottom line, the school district does not have the same level of revenue they did in previous year"

Actually, look at the total revenue growth in the last few years...


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Posted by Keep cuts away from the classroom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:16 pm

"I fail to see the cost of the assistant superintendents who luckily had their contracts just extended for 3 years at the same pay they had before."

If this indeed correct, why would the board allow this? Why would they renew contracts of people who needed to either be laid off or take a big paycut? Is the board really acting in the best interest of the kids?

Perhaps Luz Cazares, asistant superintendent of business should take over, with her same salary (no raise, no more perks) as superintendent. That way we save money (no salary or perks for a new superintendent), and we make Luz work for that contract that was just extended (if indeed the person who posted that is stating facts)


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Posted by Parent of FHS student
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I remember hearing about the asst. super. extensions after a neighbor came back from a school board meeting a couple of months ago. She said it was rushed through pretty quick and she was amazed it would happen when we have a new superintendent coming in.

Looks liks things won't be changing for awhile. But I agree with PUSD parent above. This sounds like a lot of smoke and mirrors from the district to get teacher pay cut, when the real problem is mismanagment of funds.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Stacey, I was curious about special education costs too. My understanding is that there are legal requirements that the district provide certain kinds of services, but the state and federal government do not fund the full cost of those requirements. On Tuesday night, Luz Cazares said something to the effect of "special education dollars come with ropes attached, not strings." She expressed a concern that any cutbacks in spending in this area would result almost immediately in increased legal costs.


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Posted by Keep cuts away from the classroom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Please everyone watch the board meetings from last summer. This board really needs to get smart. They approved, among other things:

- to borrow money from the Sycamore fund to make up for a little over 100K of cafeteria fund deficit. When asked how to repay it, it was said from the cafeteria fund! The board should go back to Business 101, Math 101 and Common sense 101 classes.

- agreed to re-hire some people for a couple of months in order to leave their pension unaffected. Talk about looking after their friends instead of serving the community.

The board is a problem, they rubber-stamped everything Casey told them, and now Casey is leaving, he won't have to see the mess he created. Plus he will have a fat check in the form of pension to take with. But we have the board to thank for, and after all, we are the ones who elected those clowns, so we are at fault too.

Please DO NOT vote for Kernan or Ott this fall. Let's get some fresh ideas, some smart people who can stand up to Grant and stop acting like "yes" puppets.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 7, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Would the problem by solved if their were less children to educate?

Should the US institute Birth Control?

No one wants to give up a higher salary do they? Unless forced

Is everyone in the community responsible to support schools or just the people with children in schools?

So many question, what does a rational person do?


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2010 at 9:32 pm

There are mandates for Special Education but Pleasanton does go beyond the requirements. We do need to work on getting funding to cover the mandates from mostly Federal requirements. There is a whole cottage industry out there of lawyers also who sue districts all the time, anticipating they will settle as the cost of court is high. That needs to be reformed.

The Pleasanton district is known all over the state as the place to bring your child if they have Special Education needs. We do a great job but it does take away from the other education dollars. I don't think we can finance all of the extra special education programs at the cost of education for all.

Also, I remember two years ago (I believe) there was talk about the Horizon High School Program (mothers and fathers with child). This is another great program but I remember this costing the district quite a bit. It was also pointed out that most of the students in this program were not from Pleasanton, and we were actually driving out to pick them up to attend our school. While I believe this is a good program, if we have students from other districts using our services, the other districts should be paying for their students. Our kids need to come first when we have limited funds. Money to pay for that program is being taken from other educational programs in our district. While it is a hard decision to make, that money could possibly pay for all the reading specialists and reading programs that might be cut. Are we better off helping hundreds of kids with reading vs. 30-40 students with child? Hard call but we might have to make that call.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 7, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Common Sense answers:
No
No
Obvious
Everyone in the community does support schools; they're called taxpayers.

Keep cuts away Agreed on the election. The candidates need to be found now and then we need to support them.

Regarding assistant superintendent contracts, I can only say that a board member told me they were on a recent consent calendar, but the documents are not searchable, so I'm having a hard time finding a link.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2010 at 10:38 pm

To "Pleasanton Parent",

"rarely does the private sector seek out additional sources of funding to continue on with a cost structure that exceeds revenue. "

Unless you're a financial services company. Then it is business as usual.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2010 at 10:48 pm

"where as an engineer in a software company is competing against an Engineer in another country for the same work. This global competition has pushed down our salaries which in turn reduce the amount of taxes our government collects from us,"

The downward pressure is there, but I think it is more a matter of slowing of the increase in salaries rather than an actual long term reduction in salaries. IEEE salary survey showed smaller increases for software engineers over the last decade, but they were increases. What happened in the late nineties was an anomaly, so salaries were way too high around 1999 and 2000 also.

I think teachers are feeling the effect of global competition, but to a lesser extent. Pleasanton teachers certainly aren't getting the kind of raises they were getting in the last decade.


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Posted by Keep cuts away from the classroom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Reader:

After seeing the post about the assistant superintendents getting their contracts renewed, with the board knowing that the budget deficit was bad, do you really think the community will support a parcel tax?

I used to have great trust, I even voted for measure G, I asked friends to vote for it, but now I don't even feel like donating any money. This board has showed poor judgment and has not done the right thing by our children and this community.

No matter how much money we raise or how many parcel taxes we pass, this board will find a way to screw things up. Keeping cuts away from the classroom seems to be less important to this board than giving assistant superintendents their contracts - these people should have been given a paycut, not a contract renewal. And now we are talking about eliminating reading specialist which cost about 400K? That is less than the salary of two of these assistant superintendents that got their contracts renewed without public knowledge.

No parcel tax, please do not spend more money on something that will fail for sure. We need new leadership, let's start by replacing Ott and Kernan.


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Posted by Keep cuts away from the classroom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2010 at 11:29 pm

"has showed"

should be: has shown


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Posted by Get Educated
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 12:21 am

"Why would they renew contracts of people who needed to either be laid off or take a big paycut? Perhaps Luz Cazares, asistant superintendent of business should take over, with her same salary (no raise, no more perks) as superintendent. That way we save money (no salary or perks for a new superintendent), and we make Luz work for that contract that was just extended (if indeed the person who posted that is stating facts)"

As the second largest employer in Pleasanton, you think it would be wise to cut the director of human resources? To cut the director of business services?

Kathleen, you have direct knowledge of working alongside these types of positions in a district that is currently seeking to renew and increase a parcel tax from $493 to $589. I'm curious, is this something that PAUSD is considering? What concessions are the administration, certificated, and classified making in order to ensure their parcel tax will pass?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 8, 2010 at 6:18 am

Palo Alto did the survey to determine the increase and to gauge the public's opinions of the district. They are using Larry Tramutola's firm, again. They set up a similar budget email weeks ago so that all employees and the community could provide input. The PTA is also surveying parents, which is an overlap. The results of those suggestions will be presented to the Board in February. The foundation has completed its first round of fundraising for the 2010-11 school year (don't know this year's total--last year was over $2 million). The three legged stool I have mentioned is from their approach to meeting a shortfall for next year. Lots of communication and transparency are part of the culture.

I wouldn't have cut at least one of the district positions that was eliminated in Pleasanton this year, and I wouldn't have kept one that was saved. I also would not have extended anyone's contract beyond the 2010-11 school year. Those people are locked in place, tying the hands of the new superintendent. That was a power play in my opinion (as was the election of the board president). At a minimum, my personal opinion is a Supt, CBO, and Asst Supts for HR, and Curriculum are necessary (not usually true for the smaller districts). I think questioning the perks is necessary. After that, it depends on the district.

As the list has not been released and because, while open to all, I have not been able to sit in on negotiations, I don't actually know what is being negotiated. I know furlough days have been suggested by some employees; I know avoiding layoffs is a priority of the board; I know that one of my suggestions was a one-year, one percent give-back. Not surprisingly, I sent in a list of probably a dozen things.

One other thing which is off topic from GE--at the forum the reserves were discussed. In a separate comment, it was noted that districts have good and bad years. And that is more important than it seemed. Districts KNOW these lean years will come . . . these are very lean times, historical maybe. But in the good years, a higher level of reserves must be maintained. Understanding that when, say, a 5 percent COLA is provided, that the first chunk has to cover increasing costs, the next chunk has to increase reserves (and probably seven percent is a good target to maintain given what we've seen), and IF there's anything left, negotiate a raise with true consideration for the long-term impact to S&C and therefore the budget. Right now, that order has been more like think about increased costs (but maybe increased enrollment will cover that), raises, and is there anything left to put in a reserve. That's my personal view, obviously.

Some districts have faired better than ours through this crisis and I don't believe it is as simple as whether they had a parcel tax.


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Posted by Keep cuts away from the classroom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 6:44 am

Get Educated:

Check the administration positions for the business department:

Web Link

Usually, a new superintendent will decide who the members of his cabinet will be. By extending the contracts of the assistant superintendents, Casey secured his legacy, and it prevents cuts to perks.

Explain this to the community when you go out to ask them for money, tell them how the administration chose themselves first, kids last. Tell them how reading specialists were not as important as car allowances or other perks, how some redundant and/or unnecessary district positions are more important than a teacher.

Tell them how the person in charge of the "developer fees collection" (that is the title per the PUSD website) will help our kids to read if they struggle.

This board has made some very bad decisions. But what can we expect? Are these people really qualified to be on the board when smart financial decisions need to be made?

After all, they are the same board that agreed to the request to borrow a little over 100K from the Sycamore fund to make up for the deficit in the cafeteria fund. When asked how this money would be repaid, it was said: from the cafeteria fund. Talk about some screwed up logic.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 8, 2010 at 7:44 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Sandy Piderit,

About Special Ed., yes, there are mandates that may not be fully funded. That is no excuse to let the encroachment continue to increase and not do (seemingly) anything about it. It could translate into cuts, it could mean a review of the programs to see what could be made more efficient, or it could mean chasing after additional categorical/federal/private dollars. The point is, what is being done to address it other than just let it grow? Encroachments are always money being taken away from every one else.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 8, 2010 at 7:54 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Concerned wrote: "There are mandates for Special Education but Pleasanton does go beyond the requirements." and "The Pleasanton district is known all over the state as the place to bring your child if they have Special Education needs."

Is this because we're the managing district of the Tri-Valley SELPA? It sounds like if we have such a great program we should be able to chase after more dollars for it, market ourselves.


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Posted by Local Parent
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 8, 2010 at 7:57 am

Enough already of the greedy teachers. Who else has gotten a raise in the past year - or expects one this year? Ask the UC professors who took a 10% cut in pay. Teachers get 2 choices ; work harder and deal with bigger class sizes - or keep your same pay (we are not talking about a CUT) and quit whining. You have a great job and earn more than most per hour worked. The teachers that are left have been doing this for years, have set class plans and only work 9 months per year. Give me a break. Did anyone notice how may programs can be 'saved' if the teacher just agrees to not get a raise? Why are we tip-toeing around the teachers? There are plenty of OUTSTANDING young teachers who would love to step in and take these jobs at 80% of the current pay. Leave it to the teachers union to ruin our schools. We are left with the old, stubborn, greedy teachers and lots of young talent sitting at home. Go figure. Just wait, the private schools are going to expand in our area.

Pat Kernan needs to move away. He is part of the group that created this entitlement and over-spent, leading to this MESS. Thanks, Pat.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 8, 2010 at 8:21 am

Salary corrections are overdue. Luz stated that 4% across the district salary reduction eliminates the current deficit. I would suggest a 15% reduction of administrators salaries.

The district locked in the administrators salaries for the next three years. Wednesday night the consultant overseeing the Superintendent search stated that $250K is the salary range for a new Superintendent.

The district is forcing the shortfall for their salaries then extorting the parents of this community to pay a parcel tax or the money to pay their salaries will be taken from our children!


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Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 8, 2010 at 8:24 am

Local Parent -- Pat Kernan DID move away, yet still pretends to live here in order to vote on the issues. Other than that I have no disagreement with your post . . . . .


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Posted by Different Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 8, 2010 at 8:28 am

Pat Kernan did move away! Problem is he and the rest of the board kept it a secret so he could run again and refuses to resign from the board! He would be a fool to run again.


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Posted by Sue
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 8, 2010 at 8:49 am

I volunteer in a first grade class reading with each child. I can tell the difference between 20 children and 25 and now they want to raise the class size to 30. The school board should sit in class for a day and see how these children need individual attention at times. In the afternoon I read with 8 students who desperately need additional help. I guess P.E. more important than Barton and Reading specialist. Field trips??? Students should be going to school full time the week before Thanksgiving instead of half days and then reduce the school week by one week. How about reducing the salaries of our administrators???? Such a crime!!


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Posted by Can we refuse to give in to demands from the unions?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 8:52 am

I agree with Local Parent. The best teachers my child has had are the young, new ones. Does anyone know what the rules are for dealing with the union?

Can PUSD refuse to give in to their demands and hire new, young teachers that, like Local Parent said, would be happy to work for less than the old tenured ones earn.

I know that great teachers are plenty, and some are tenured and some are not. But from my personal experience, every good teacher we have had has been on the newer side (some already tenured but newer). The worse teachers we have had are those who have been teaching for 15+ years, and the ones who are ready to retire are the worse to deal with.


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Posted by Keep cuts away from the classroom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 9:04 am

Sue:

It goes back to the teachers. If the teacher union agrees to less days, CSR would not be affected.

- Freeze step and column (1.6 million)
- reduce the school year (450K per day). If we end the school year a week early, that is 5 days x 450K is about 2.2 million. We just make the teachers work the week of thanksgiving, like the rest of us do (only get two days off, the day of thanksgiving and the day after); that is 3 days. Then you get rid of 2 teacher work days and we're set.

- get rid of some administrators and all the unnecessary perks, and we are set. No need for cuts that affect the students, CSR stays the same, reading specialists stay, everything stays the way it is, the only difference is we have a school year that is 1 week shorter and teachers do not get a raise (what a concept!)


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Posted by MG
a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Jan 8, 2010 at 9:12 am

I do think a 5 day shorter school year would be a great start as well as a 10-15% cut in administrator pay. Everyone needs to pitch in and take a cut like everyone else.

I thought the state lottery was supposed to help pay for education. What is happening with that?


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Posted by Amador Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 8, 2010 at 9:16 am

Special ed programs are needed but they are sucking this district dry. I have compassion for the needs of these children and families but when they move here just because PUSD does a good job of providing for them that's over the line. The State mandates the programs and but does not provide the cash just like the feds and No Child Left Behind, Can't say show me the money there is none. Students without special needs are getting less of an education because the economy went south not because our school board and Dr Casey did not do their jobs. Cut salaries across the board just like the private sector did, increase class size if they must. The good people of this town need to pony up the cash if they want to have excellent schools, the state has run dry.


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Posted by Long Time Parent
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 8, 2010 at 9:18 am

Cut Admin Wages and Perks....and Purge the Board!

I have been a parent in PUSD for nearly 20 years. None of these are new issues....just amplified because of the current economy.

The wastefulness I have seen in the district has been horendous, starting when my oldest was in kindergarten at Fairlands (Crazy Letter Friends, Pre-First, books teachers would write that Admin would buy from them to teach in the classrooms instead of using perfectly good text books already on hand...Special interest subjects and products purchased that did not support a basic education, but added a lot of fluff.) The wastefulness countinues with the administration, not the teachers. Cut the heck out of Admin wages and perks. Stop spending money on special interest items that have nothing to do with teaching the children the things they need to get into college.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 8, 2010 at 9:20 am

"The downward pressure is there, but I think it is more a matter of slowing of the increase in salaries rather than an actual long term reduction in salaries. IEEE salary survey showed smaller increases for software engineers over the last decade, but they were increases. What happened in the late nineties was an anomaly, so salaries were way too high around 1999 and 2000 also.

I think teachers are feeling the effect of global competition, but to a lesser extent. Pleasanton teachers certainly aren't getting the kind of raises they were getting in the last decade."

So the private setor is getting salary adjustments in the form of reductions, and the public sector gets a smaller increases (all while we're being told the school doesn't have enough money to fund programs core to its purpose)? Doesn't really give me the warm fuzzies.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 8, 2010 at 9:26 am

I am concerned about the support of shortening the number of days our children are in class (though I agree with changing the half days to full days in order to better utilize the classroom time). If I recall, there is a direct corellation in student learning and retention with the number of days a student is in class.

I would imagine there is a greater benefit in having the students in class for one more day (obviously a typical full day, non-field trip class) than having one day of 25 students vs 30 students in the classroom.

I do recognize the fallacy in that the CSR benefit is spread over the entire year, but on a 1 day to 1 day comparison I would think keeping our kids in the classroom is of greater value?


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 10:00 am

Just curious ... is there a recall process for School Board members?

And if so, is it time to consider initiating the process?


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 8, 2010 at 11:19 am

Stacey, I wasn't implying that we shouldn't look into special education encroachment further -- simply relaying what was said at the budget forum.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 8, 2010 at 11:21 am

Re: Recall process -- it seems that would be costly, and there is an election for two of the board members' positions coming up in early November.


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Posted by Mystery Shopper
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 12:05 pm

The Assistant Superintendents' contracts were renewed WITH each of them receiving a $500 PER MONTH car allowance.
Personally, I'd rather see that $18K a year used to benefit the students or teachers.
I find it hard to believe that each assistant superintendent travels so much on PUSD business that eac A.S. requires $500 per month to offset vehicle expenses.
They are just some of the PUSD employees who continue to receive allowances in spite of community protests that such perks should be discontinued.



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Posted by reasonable
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 12:26 pm

There has been no inflation this past year, so teachers don't really need cost of living increases. Also, I know from a San Ramon teacher that Pleasanton teachers make quite a bit more. We need to compare our teacher salaries against other district salaries, NOT against BART employees, silicon valley engineers, etc.

Eliminating step and column saves enought to eliminate most cuts. Our students are better off retaining things like reading specialists, music and art, CSR at 25. If the teachers really care about our students welfare they would not insist on step and columnn if the tradeoff is larger classes and losing enrichment. We can end school a few days early in exchange if that makes it work.

As for special ed ... can anyone explain why a special ed kid needs a bus when the same parent has to drive their non-special kids to school themselves (and has to drive the special kid to everywhere else anyway)??? the special buses made sense when everyone took the bus and the special ed kids needed door to door service, but this is an expensive holdover from another time. Just one item that could use rethinking.


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Posted by Parent of 2
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Unexcused absences, such as taking your kids out of school the week before Thanksgiving break to visit Disneyland, cost the district over $2 Million!! Fix that! Have the kids attend school every school day unless they are sick or pay the money ($50) the district loses because of a parents decision to enjoy Disneyland instead of attend school.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Substitute teachers probably cost the district more money than unexcused absences.

My child had a teacher who hired a substitute very often, and it was not for valid reasons.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I like the idea of ending the year a week early.


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Posted by Letsgo
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Reasonable: special ed services are a completely different ballgame as there are state and federal guidlines. I know one school in Richmond had to spend $60,000 per year to bus 1 student to a special school. This is not something a school district has really any control over.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 2:30 pm

We just make the teachers work the week of thanksgiving, like the rest of us do - this does not save any money, unless you beleive we should make the techers work those three days without pay. The savings of shortenting the school year, comes mainly from saving salaries.


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Posted by About special education
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 2:44 pm

The special education requirements must be coming from the federal government. I know someone in a different state whose 16 year old child has the development of a 5 year old, and even with this knowledge, this child's parent hired a lawyer and her child now attends high school.

The bus picks up the child in the morning, bring back in the afternoon. The school district pays for two full time aides for this child; as sad as the child's situation is, the reality is the child does not benefit from school: the child is still in diapers due to the degenerative illness, cannot speak and needs 24/7 care. This child is now in 11th grade and has attended the school in that state since kindergarten, all financed by taxpayer money.

Special education is needed for those who can benefit from it, but there is much abuse of this special ed program and laws out there.

I was told that this child's situation is protected by law. The child has the right to all the services being provided even if the child is not learning anything and the parents are using the school as free care.

Does anyone know when these special education laws were passed?


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Posted by dodge
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm

"Is everyone in the community responsible to support schools or just the people with children in schools?"

This is a big question. Compulsary education in the US has not been around that long and there seems to be some movement away from it. This happens as tax revenues shrink. This extends to other areas too. There has been tax of having people taxed per mile they drive to pay for road and things instead of just the gasoline tax has cars get higher mileage.

When it seems to cost too much money to pay for something we always look for someone else to pay for it. Is education in the US a right or a priviledge? Will educating all students make our country stronger? Will not educating all make us an even more divided nation of those haves and have nots?


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Does anyone know when these special education laws were passed?

Most of this comes from the Rehibilitation Act in 1973 and then the Education of All Handicapped Children Act in 1975.


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Posted by Teacher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I love the idea that "Resident" - two posts above how you get to determine what is a "valid" reason and what is not. Teachers have 3 personal days and 7 sick days. Most teachers do not like leaving school because unlike other jobs where you just get to call in sick, you have to write sub plans and prepare materials for your classroom. This takes at least an hour to do properly.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 8, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Long Time Parent, I totally remember Crazy Letter Friends!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Teacher:

Is going to a child's assembly a valid reason for calling a substitute? Schools complain about children being absent for reasons other than illness. I am simply trying to point out that teachers also take days off for reasons other than illness, and this comes at a greater cost to the district.

Unlike other jobs, teachers have to get a substitute, which most districts pay at about 120 dollars or so per day. In other jobs, we call in sick, but we do not have to pay someone else to fill in for us.

I was simply responding to the post that asked that parents pay when their child misses school for reasons other than illness. Teachers also take time off for reasons other than illness, and the district has to pay for a substitute, yet I do not see that person above calling for teachers to reimburse the district.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Teacher:

In other jobs, we also do not get as many holidays off, nor do we get the entire summer off.

So for a teacher to take personal days off, for reasons other than illness, on top of all that time off, probably adds up.

It would be wise for the district to compute how much we spend per year on substitute teachers. It should also limit substitute teachers for when a teacher is ill.


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Posted by District.is.messed-up
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 8, 2010 at 4:24 pm

You won't believe this (this is no joke)!

With all the talk of budget cuts, can you believe that the District now wants to offer more ceramics courses, art courses and movie making courses at the high schools?

Look at the board packet on line for this coming meeting at the District's website.

Taxpayer money used to fund kids learning to make YouTube videos?

And lets not forget a course on "parametic equations and polar coordinates and 3 dimensional vecotrs" that is offered free on the web at UC Berkeley at this HTTP address - Web Link

Maybe we should rename Amador and Foothill UC Casey-Amador and UC Casey-Foothill.


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Posted by "old tenured" 30yr old
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Resident,

I currently have 65 sick days acquired because I want to avoid being away from the classroom at all costs. When my father was alone, dying in the hospital with me being the only family he had, I had to be there. Since my personal days were used up, I had to pay for these days myself.

We have heard your one example of a teacher going to an assembly, taking week to go to Disneyland is a very common occurance in this district, and quite a different situation.

Not only is it none of your business what I am doing when I need to be away from the classroom, it is not for your judgement to say whether I can be there for my father or not- especially since I had to pay for the sub! Thank goodness the parents in my classroom were so supportive during this difficult time. Such thoughtless, heartless commenters here!


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 5:40 pm

"It would be wise for the district to compute how much we spend per year on substitute teachers. It should also limit substitute teachers for when a teacher is ill."

Not very hard - each teacher gets 10 days per year, ~1000 teachers, $125 per day (this is an estimate as rates very depending on a few variables) = $1.25 million per year liability.

What happens if a teachers child is sick? Or should the teacher schedule their children to be sick during breaks? Should a teacher tell all of their relatives and friends not to schedule illness or emergencies during the school year?

And how are you going to determine whether a teacher is sick? You're not allowed to ask any employee the reason for their absence if the notify you they are sick until it becomes and extended absence.


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Posted by Another teacher
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 8, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Oh, Okay... I'll just make sure that I get "sick" during the school year. I mean come on people- we can't pick and choose when we get sick and I personally have and I know most teachers work while extremely ill instead of having to get a sub.
So, to go to a child's assembly is not a valid reason. Have you never taken a day off to go to your child's events during the school day? What about conferences- those are during the school day and you're not missing any time? So a teacher can't. What double standards.


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 6:25 pm

"We just make the teachers work the week of thanksgiving, like the rest of us do (only get two days off, the day of thanksgiving and the day after); that is 3 days."

There have been a couple of posts like the above about having teachers work Thanksgiving week. I personally would be in favor of this, but this decision had nothing to do with what the teachers wanted or negotiated, but what would keep kids' butts in the seats. As many of you know, ADA is not given if a child is not in attendance. Thanksgiving week traditionally, due to its brevity, was more lightly attended due to families going out of town for the whole week, and adjustments were made to max out ADA by taking the whole week off. I would love to have a longer summer and work those three days in November, but I have no say it the matter.

Bottom line, don't blame anybody for this, it was a financially strategic decision to increase revenues. It has stayed because it was a smart financial decision.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Asst. Superintendents get $500 per month auto allowance! That is more than what the City Manager of Pleasanton receives. I had no idea they voted to extend those contracts. That is unthinkable at this time with the economic issues as well as a new superintendent starting in July. Seems Casey had to protect his friends before he left. The board approves stupid things like this and then wonder why the public is upset. How can they do things like that and then expect to be respected by the public? Just this action is going to cost the district a lot in donations as the public finds out. They tried to keep this vote a secret I guess. I am glad it was posted here for myself and others to see. It seems every few days of reading things my respect for the district goes down.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm

"Have you never taken a day off to go to your child's events during the school day? "

I have because my chosen profession is flexible and I can make up for that at night from home.

If I had to hire someone to take my place at work while I am gone, I would not take time off for a child's assembly. I would reserve that time for illness.

Teachers chose their profession, and with that come perks (summers off, etc). Others chose professions based on flexibility. I know I did, I work from home when I want to, and as long as I get the job done it doesn't matter if I take a few hours off to go to my child's assembly. I make up for that at night or working on a weekend. As long as I deliver....

My child never learns anything with a sub. Lesson plans or not, kids do not learn anything with a sub. Many times, the lesson plan is to watch a movie!

So it is okay to take time off for illness, but if you want a job flexible enough for child assemblies, etc, then you might want to get a job in the real world, where you will have to work summers and you will not get as many holidays off. Oh yeah, you will probably not be able to leave the office by 5.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 8:42 pm

"What about conferences- those are during the school day and you're not missing any time?"

Actually, the teacher always sent the report card home. I was told my child was problem-free, so no need for a conference unless I really wanted it. Conferences in my child's class were reserved for at-risk kids.

If you want a flexible job, again, join the real world, get a job in the private sector. You will have the flexibility to go to assemblies, etc. But you will lose your summers off. You can't have it both ways.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 8:51 pm

"What happens if a teachers child is sick?"

You assume that the teacher is also married to another teacher.

A spouse could take care of the child.

I know if my child is sick and I have an important meeting that I cannot cancel, my spouse works from home. If that is not possible, guess what? I call a babysitter.

I care about my company's profits. A meeting with an important client is taken seriously, and I would not miss that if I can avoid it. That is the beauty of babysitters, isn't it?

Besides, a child being sick is not the same as a teacher taking the day off to attend the child's assembly. I even know of a teacher who took time off to take care of a fundraiser; the teacher had kids too, so the PTA came first I guess.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Old tenured:

Your situation, in my opinion, was very valid. You should be able to take the time off to be with your father, and you should not have to pay for the sub yourself.

However, you are an exception. Many teachers live in Pleasanton and quite a few abuse the substitute system.

It would be wise for the district to keep track of who hires subs and why, because teachers who abuse the system give the rest of the teachers a bad name.

Perhaps I have had my share of bad, cynical teachers, and my experience has been a gross abuse of the "let me call a substitute"


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 9:50 pm

It sounds like we should hire Resident to pass judgement on whether or not teachers can take the day off. Resident says "yes" to:
-Illness
-Parent in hospital
Resident says "no" to:
-Seeing your child in an assembly

Resident, teachers have negotiated PN (personal neccesity) days for a reason, and the reason is that we don't need to answer to judgemental people like yourself. It is great that your job allows for flexibility to see your child's assemblies, and that your child is "problem-free" so you don't need to go to conferences. I'm not so lucky, my child is not 'problem-free', I need to go to conferences (which I always schedule before or afterschool), and I do anything possible to support my problem-laden child by going to an assembly or field trip now and again that he is participating in. Like "Old tenured" said, I have many days built up, though not as many as "OT". Most teachers build them up, because we come in when we probably shouldn't, we don't want to miss the time we need with the kids. (I really should have stayed home for a couple days with a bad back last year, for example, but I didn't.)

So help us all out, give us the whole list, what things are okay to take a PN day for, and what things aren't. Or, if you prefer, give me your phone number and I will call you to see if my reason passes your litmus test.


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Posted by "old tenured" 30yr old
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Resident said "My child never learns anything with a sub. Lesson plans or not, kids do not learn anything with a sub."

I am suprised, for having such a well adjusted child that doesn't require conferences ever, they would not take responsibility for their learning in the classroom, showing respect for the adults who are teaching. Especially since these substitutes are the "best and brightest" young teachers who are trying to get hired by PUSD. Not to mention the many who were layed off last year and are now subbing.

Your generalizations are just another example of the rude vitriol that many on this sight feel entitled to spew towards a profession they clearly know little about.

The attitude from the adults of this community is what I will always remember about this budget crisis.


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Posted by Karen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Every time most workers call their boss to say they are sick or home with a sick child or for any other reason, they have to sweat it out and try to pass the gauntlet of a judgemental boss who can get fed up very easily. It can be very scary when there's no job security. Sometimes I think that teachers feel that they should be immune from the work demands that placed on the wider community and they expect to have union protections that others don't have. Of course some in the community resent that because of what they have to go through themselves.


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Posted by Karen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I don't think the verbal sarcasm and angry vitriol is coming from the residents and parents.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 9, 2010 at 12:20 am

my understanding of the system as it stands now is that a teacher need not answer to anyone to call in sick. it's all automated. teacher calls in and "the system" starts calling subs. no harm no foul. no accountability.

what i would like to know is if there is any pattern to the absences. are fridays and mondays popular? how is teacher attendance around holidays and breaks?

if i remember correctly, there were no concessions from teachers last year. i'll be watching for adminstrative concessions this year as well.


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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 9, 2010 at 12:44 am

A quick read through the article and the thread..... I could not find the total budget number. This lack of reporting the complete facts makes it hard for one to critically assess the situation. Poor reporting, as usual, in the PW. A $3.6 MM deficit seems to me to be a rather small percent of the total budget of PUSD($136 MM). In the real world of the private sector (as opposed to the government union lobbyist world of school districts, etc.), this is a minor shortfall. What's the big deal with the unions (certificated and classified)? To these folks is where all the money goes (salaries plus benefits ~$97 MM). Web Link


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2010 at 4:37 am

"are fridays and mondays popular? "

Yes.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2010 at 4:39 am

"are fridays and mondays popular? "

Yes. Many times when my child had a substitute, it was a friday. But other times, it was during the week.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2010 at 4:47 am

"I am suprised, for having such a well adjusted child that doesn't require conferences ever, they would not take responsibility for their learning in the classroom, showing respect for the adults who are teaching. Especially since these substitutes are the "best and brightest" young teachers who are trying to get hired by PUSD. Not to mention the many who were layed off last year and are now subbing."

You mean my child should be responsible for the day's learning with a sub? How can my child do so? If the sub says watch a movie, there is not much my child can do. The students have to obey the sub or they get in trouble. Maybe that is why you like teaching? Because your "customers" are minors who cannot stand up to you yet you can blame them if they don't learn?

As for needing conferences or not, I was surprised at the teacher's response that my child did not need a conference. We still had to put up with the half days for the conference period, yet we did not get to meet with the teacher. The decision was the teacher's, not mine.

About substitutes: many are stay at home moms who do this for lunch money on a part time basis. I know someone who does this. Subs do not have the freedom to plan lessons, they have to do what the teacher tells them. Most of the time, the "lesson plan" is a movie or some other activity that has nothing to do with the curriculum.

You can argue all you want and get mad but the reality is that children do not benefit from having a sub. If teachers don't like the idea of not having the flexibility to miss work just for fun, they should look for a job in the real world. Good luck with that, because no one out there would put up with this kind of attitude of entitlement


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Posted by Reisdent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2010 at 4:53 am

Get the facts:

I assume you are a teacher. WOW!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2010 at 5:06 am

"and I do anything possible to support my problem-laden child by going to an assembly or field trip now and again that he is participating in"

I hope you are not tenured, it is scary to know we have people like you working as teachers.

Not everyone takes time off from work to go to field trips. If you are a teacher, you should have more respect for your students and your job. We do not pay you so that you can go on field trips with your child, while your students are left behind with a sub.


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Posted by Caesar
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 9, 2010 at 6:16 am

KEEP IT SIMPLE FOLKS.
5 PER CENT PAY CUT.
SHORTFALL FIXED.
DON'T LIKE THAT TEACHERS?
TAKE A HIKE AND LET NEW YOUNG TEACHERS IN!


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2010 at 9:49 am

"how is teacher attendance around holidays and breaks?"

By contract, teachers cannot take the first week of school off, the last week of school off, or the day before or after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring breaks. We can take a 'sick' day, but will be required to show proof of illness (like a doc's note).

"About substitutes: many are stay at home moms who do this for lunch money on a part time basis."

You really need to do your research. Before this year, most subs are educated people looking to break into teaching, doing anything they can to get a foot in the door. This year, the sub list is mainly teachers who got laid off last year. Your comment is a slap in the face to both substitutes and stay-at-home moms.

"are fridays and mondays popular?"

For Personal Neccesity (PN) days, yes, of course they are. Check around in your office, when was the last time someone took a Wednesday off for personal reasons? My guess is that Mondays and Fridays off are most popular in ALL careers, this goes without saying.

"if i remember correctly, there were no concessions from teachers last year"

Both teachers and administration offered up concessions as part of a shared sacrifice upon the passage of the parcel tax. The PT went down, and so did the concessions. But let's make it clear, all teachers who take health care took a pay cut last year, due to health care costs increasing and no increase in pay. And I was willing to take that hit, plus the concessions we made with the parcel tax, plus I live in Pleasanton so I would have paid the parcel tax. So please don't say we didn't offer up concessions, we did!

"Get the facts: I assume you are a teacher. WOW!"

I have never hid that fact. But I know that 'Resident', you are not the parent of one of my students, because I get unconditional support from my parents, they understand when I take a PN day, they are supportive of what I need to do for my family that takes me from school sometimes. They appreciate what I do. They believe I should be paid well (and not take concessions) due to the work that I put in.

"I hope you are not tenured, it is scary to know we have people like you working as teachers."

I AM tenured. I am also a great teacher, you'd be happy to have me. I'm sorry you are "scared" by me. Why do I threaten you? You don't even know me!

"Not everyone takes time off from work to go to field trips. If you are a teacher, you should have more respect for your students and your job."

I have plenty of respect for my job, I have tons of respect for my students. Why do you have no respect for me and what I do?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2010 at 1:20 pm

"I have plenty of respect for my job, I have tons of respect for my students. "

I think differently, based on the posts you wrote.

No, I would not like to have my child in your class even if you say you are a great teacher.

I would not like to have a teacher that feels her child's field trip is more important than her students. When you go on that field trip, your students stay with a sub.

Whatever you want to say about lesson plans, I know, as well as other parents know, that a day with a sub is a wasted day.

I am glad your students' parents like you. You will need that if the district decides to do fundraising or pass a parcel tax. Based on what I have read, and how expensive step and column is, I will not be giving any money like I have in the past, and I will vote no on a parcel tax (even though I voted yes on G).

Thank you for your posts. They are very informative and made me learn a lot about teachers. I know not all teachers are like you. I know some very excellent teachers who would not think about taking a day off to attend their child's field trip, they truly care about their students and love their job. Unfortunately, it is about collective bargaining, so all teachers, good and bad, get the same deal.

I cannot wait for teachers to start being paid on merit, and for the state to start using student achievemet to evaluate teachers.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2010 at 1:27 pm

"You really need to do your research. Before this year, most subs are educated people looking to break into teaching, doing anything they can to get a foot in the door. This year, the sub list is mainly teachers who got laid off last year. Your comment is a slap in the face to both substitutes and stay-at-home moms."

I know people who are subs. They are stay at home moms, they are nice and educated but no, they are not doing this to get a foot in the door. They are professionals in other fields who are taking a break while they raise their kids. Being a sub is a part time thing for them and they do it just to get some extra pocket change.

The problem with subs is that no matter how excellent the person is, the sub does not decide what to do. They do what the teacher tells them, and whether you deny it or not, the reality is that for the most part, movies are left as "lesson plans" and sometimes other activities which have nothing to do with the curriculum.

Kids do not learn with subs. Talk to parents, and those who are honest will tell you. I know when my kids have subs: no homework, nothing new learned, and very often, they just watch a movie.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Support from parents and students is not always what it appears to be. As it is nearly impossible to move a child once you realize you have a poor teacher, support often comes as a means of survival for your child.

I've been mulling over the comments here and on past threads about teaching. It's a contract for 180 days (and possibly staff development time). It's easy to agree people have unscheduled sicknesses and personal issues like a death in the family that require time away. There are other generous times away--Thanksgiving, winter break, spring break, and summer for the pursuit personal interests or education.

We can also agree there are many teachers who come early, stay late, respond to emails quickly, volunteer for other activities with students, do lesson planning and grade papers at home because prep time was spent with parents or students, and review their year and new approaches for the coming year during the summer months. I know a teacher who attends dances and sporting events even when not required because of the connection to the students. (Bus duty, lunch duty, any required time, and paid summer school are not above and beyond the call).

After that, there is a genuine problem with all the conferences and seminars that occur on school days that take a teacher out of the classroom. There's a problem asking students to be in their seats so we don't lose ADA and to then have them face substitutes for days at a time or irregularly, but frequently, for reasons that are in the teacher's control.

Maybe I'm callous, but there is validity to pointing out this is a chosen profession; having children is also a personal choice, and continuing to work knowing you shouldn't abandon your post to see your child perform is part and parcel of those choices. Many mothers and fathers see few if any of their children's events because of the very same choices they made.

Teaching is often a calling--working on the side of the angels is a phrase I hear often. But many teachers and administrators have said to me, where else can you have a decent income, this kind of time off, and get to retire handsomely at a fairly young age. And these are excellent, dedicated people saying it.

I'd even suggest the teachers you know who are teaching beyond a retirement opportunity and who are still phenomenal are the ones who had the calling. Okay, maybe they can't retire because of other circumstances, but they don't abandon their zeal.

We've all been subject to the teachers who stayed beyond their expiration date; the ones who chose poorly, but managed tenure and now do the minimum necessary; and everything in between. And this is why tenure is so galling; the options for removing them are few, painful, often unsuccessful, and expensive.

It's been claimed the review of teachers is comprehensive, but it is common knowledge not every principal does it well, and at some level, who can blame them? Look at the contract; consider this isn't just mono y mono if there's an unsat involved; and remember that even peer review was fought tooth and nail because no teacher really wanted to judge another teacher's performance.

On a grander scale, K-12 education needs to change, and I like Arne Duncan's campaign to force it, and frankly take the bullets from NEA, et al. The change is long overdue. That's everything from tenure, to merit pay, to how the education model needs to greet the future let alone try to outpace its requirements.

Back to Pleasanton. Teachers became members of this community when they elected to teach our children (regardless of where they may live). This community has been supportive through property taxes, facility bonds, donations, and volunteering for as long as I can speak to ('85). It is PUSD's turn to lead. The union needs to make a bold move on concessions (S&C freeze for two years is a good start OR some equivalent). Administrators can give back the car allowances—write the check as a donation and tell us about it.

For the future: (1) anyone on the negotiations team—no clauses that allow you to benefit from what you negotiate. Raises for negotiators should be on performance and meeting specific goals only. (2) Change how raises are negotiated with the unions. Any COLA from the state needs to first insure there is no deficit spending. The COLA also must be used to build reserves as a second priority. Any raises considered with left over COLA dollars should be divided 50/50 between an off the schedule "bonus" and what goes "on the schedule." (3) As leadership contracts come up (all principals, assistant principals will be March 15 for 2010-11); remove all perks and make them salary only. (4) Any multi-year contract should be frozen and ridden out to the end so they too can be salary only (no year to year rollovers--every year is a new three year contract). Note: 3 and 4 are likely to mean some increase in those salaries to accommodate loss of the perks . . . it will take serious thought on what that should be. (5) Negotiate benefits out from retirement to 65 (an unfunded or under-funded commitment that will be an ugly surprise in the not too distant future). It will likely be grandfathered and take a long time to undo. (6) Health benefit costs – something is broken at PUSD; I can't say more than a fix is needed. (7) Kernan, Ott, and even Grant—step down for this election.

These are opportunities available to us now. The potential good faith it could buy is enormous.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 9, 2010 at 2:08 pm

"Both teachers and administration offered up concessions as part of a shared sacrifice upon the passage of the parcel tax. The PT went down, and so did the concessions. But let's make it clear, all teachers who take health care took a pay cut last year, due to health care costs increasing and no increase in pay. And I was willing to take that hit, plus the concessions we made with the parcel tax, plus I live in Pleasanton so I would have paid the parcel tax. So please don't say we didn't offer up concessions, we did!"

You can't be serious. That concession, if you can really call it that, was a joke at best. "Sure, we'll take two days out of the schedule.....who cares the money we lose will be more than made up for in our S&C increases anyway."

Guess what, my healthcare costs went up too last year, and I didn't get a raise or COLA either. In fact, I took a pay cut because of the poor economy. Additionally, I didn't have the option of voting for a higher salary (to up my pension benefits upon retirement) in place of healthcare coverage.


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2010 at 3:57 pm

"I know people who are subs. They are stay at home moms, they are nice and educated but no, they are not doing this to get a foot in the door. They are professionals in other fields who are taking a break while they raise their kids. Being a sub is a part time thing for them and they do it just to get some extra pocket change."

False, false, false. Absolutely false. The subs this year are laid-off teachers from last year. The "moms" you speak of are too far down the list to get many (if any at all) days to sub.

"I think differently, based on the posts you wrote."

I'm so happy you are judging me on my posts, since you have never met me.

KR says: "That's everything from tenure, to merit pay,"
Resident says: "I cannot wait for teachers to start being paid on merit, and for the state to start using student achievemet to evaluate teachers."

I have no problem with merit pay, but do not for a second say it should be based on student achievement or test scores. This is fraught with problems, among them:
-No one will want to teach the special needs classes, but everyone will want to teach the GATE classes
-Teachers will only want to be at the best schools and school districts. Cities like Oakland will be lucky to keep teachers longer than a year.
-Teachers will be forced to teach to the test even more than they already are encouraged to.
-Sadly, teachers will have the option to cheat on their report of scores to make their classes seem higher than they are.
-How on earth will you calculate the merit of the teachers in K, 1st grade, Reading Specialists, etc, basically all of the teachers who don't give standardized testing?
You may talk about merit pay all you want, but please don't tie it to students.

Many people on this blog try to compare schools to the private sector, and I would encourage you not to do that. The students are not 'sales goals' or some sort of mark we didn't acheive.

"I took a pay cut because of the poor economy."

I'm sorry that happened, but I didn't wish that upon you. I don't know why you or anyone else is wishing that upon us.

Again, please don't compare schools to the private sector. In most cases (maybe not yours), pay cuts happened to employees of companies that lost revenue. Sales are down, and theoretically there is less work (though I realize remaining employees are probably working longer and harder than ever). But in the schools, our 'product', the students, are not down. If we take a 50% pay cut, we will go to work the next day with the same amount of students (25% more if you are a K-3 teacher). Our product hasn't gone down. I'm sorry you have taken a pay cut, I never asked for that, I never wanted it. We may have to take a concession, but I'll make a deal with you: I will take a concession if you ask the police and fire men and women to take one as well. Funny how they are valued more than we are.




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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 9, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Get the Facts wrote: "The subs this year are laid-off teachers from last year."

Is it true that this is due to union-favoring rules?

"No one will want to teach the special needs classes, but everyone will want to teach the GATE classes"

Only if the merit pay system is designed with that flaw. Taking a page out of "a reader's" book, you're talking about a merit pay system that hasn't even been proposed yet.

"Teachers will only want to be at the best schools and school districts. Cities like Oakland will be lucky to keep teachers longer than a year."

Already happens without merit pay.

"Teachers will be forced to teach to the test even more than they already are encouraged to."

If there's a test of items that students are supposed to know, why would you not teach those items? I understand that testing isn't the end-all-be-all of education, but that's the system that's in place now and what teachers are being paid to do. This isn't university level.

"Sadly, teachers will have the option to cheat on their report of scores to make their classes seem higher than they are."

Remember Hart Middle School cheating? So how does merit pay cause this?

"Our product hasn't gone down."

Then why should you get a raise if the work is the same?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 9, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Basically, your reason for not cutting pay is a no-reason because it is also a reason to not raise pay.

Total district costs go up regardless of if some individuals take a "pay cut" due to rising health care costs. No different from how the district would have saved money from the two-day concession offered on Measure G contingency while some individuals would have taken a "pay cut" based upon their position on the schedule. Individuals are still deriving a benefit in higher salary for pension calculations.


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Stacey, to answer your questions:

-Regarding subs: I am not sure exactly how the system works to be honest. Those laid-off last year and still unemployed have first crack at the jobs. But mainly this whole thing is a rebuttal to Resident, who twice now has insulted subs AND stay-at-home moms. Going back to last year there were a few moms that would basically fit in the category Resident is talking about, but most of the subs I got in the past years (because I meet them to go over the day in the morning before I leave) are want-to-be teachers.

-The "flaw" you talk about can only be avoided if merit pay is based on something other than student achievement.

-"Already happens without merit pay". Yes, I agree, but this isn't a good thing. We don't want to make a bad problem worse.

-Teaching exclusivly to help your students score well on the test (called, "teaching to the test") is a bad thing. I agree with you that standardized testing is the system we have in place, and until we get a better one we will have to go with this one, but do you want your kids to focus on testing items ALL year long? We are told to teach the 'whole child", hence the reason for Art, Music (and Band), Physical Education, elective classes, etc. Teaching to the test is bad. If I did that, I guarantee my students would score great, but really not learn much other than how to do a few things great. I really don't want to be that kind of teacher.

-I don't know anything about the Hart incident, please fill me in.

-I never said I "should get a raise" (even though for some teachers the work went up 25%), but I don't think I should get a reduction either. I did take a reduction this past year with the increase of health care, and it is certain to go up again.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 9, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Get the Facts wrote: "-I don't know anything about the Hart incident, please fill me in."

Really? It wasn't that long ago. I don't recall any follow-up outcome reported. Web Link


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 9, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Sorry, it wasn't Hart, but PMS. Hart was involved though.


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Posted by Suze
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Jan 9, 2010 at 4:52 pm

"What about conferences- those are during the school day and you're not missing any time?"

Actually, the teacher always sent the report card home. I was told my child was problem-free, so no need for a conference unless I really wanted it. Conferences in my child's class were reserved for at-risk kids.

The November conferences are for ALL students, the half day conference in March is for At Risk, if your child's teacher did in fact not offer you a November conference you should speak to the principal.
Laid off teachers as subs: this is part of the California Education Code
Also I believe it was PMS that had a problem with the state testing,not Hart


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2010 at 10:26 pm

This is worth reading:

Web Link


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2010 at 9:47 am

Even Sacramento is concerned about the cost of substitutes. This is a portion of a document titled "Putting Children's Education Ahead of Special Interests and Protecting Classroom Spending: Education Reforms in the 2010-2011 Budget " :

" Reducing Schools Substitute Teacher Costs
Eliminating regulations giving laid off teachers first priority for substitute assignments and that these substitutes be paid at rate received before they were laid off. State law requires teachers who have been laid off to receive first priority for substitute teaching assignments and that these substitutes be paid at the rate they received before they were laid off if they work more than 20 days within a 60‑school day period. For districts that have laid‑off teachers, existent provisions significantly increase substitute teacher costs and could force additional layoffs and cuts to classroom spending."

The full document can be found here:
Web Link

Thanks to the teacher above who pointed out how the substitute teaching is working right now. I know people who are stay at home moms who are subs, but I did not realize that when a teacher calls a sub and that sub happens to be a laid off teacher, the district has to pay more for that sub! All the more reason to eliminate the ability for a teacher to take the day off to attend his/her child's assembly. What a lack of concern for both the students and the district when a teacher calls a sub to be able to attend his/her child's assembly or field trip!


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Posted by Your ignorance is killing me
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jan 10, 2010 at 9:54 am

Don't be an idiot... it's only if a previous laid off teacher works for 20 plus days. There is such a thing as long term sub pay as well, so it doesn't matter if it's a previously hired teacher or not. Either way, 20+ days costs the district more. That would be for a maternity leave situation, in which the teacher uses her sick time up and/or takes pay at a reduced rate after that.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2010 at 10:05 am

Your ignorance is killing me:

Because I know people who are subs, I know that a person can be called to sub 20 days in a 60 day period.

This does not necessarily happen with long term subs. This happens because 20 different teachers may call a sub in that 60 day period. Someone I know, at some point, got called pretty much every day. Granted, she did not accept every assignment, but she could have if she wanted to. That would have been 20+ days in a 60 day period. Read above again, it does not say anything about working 20 consecutive days.

Yes, I know about long-term sub pay, but that is not what this concern from Sacramento is about. The concern is about how much substitutes have to be paid if they happen to be laid off teachers and work 20 days in a 60 day period (nothing said about consecutive work days)


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Posted by To resident
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 10, 2010 at 2:22 pm

First you complain that your child doesn't learn anything when there's a sub, then you complain when the sub is a teacher. You seem like such a bitter, petty person. Have a little heart! Teachers are parents, too.

You mustn't make this issue to be "us vs them" (teachers vs nonteachers, parents vs childless people, people with school-age children vs empty nesters). It will divide this community and break down communication channels. We all need to work together to find a solution. There is no need to be insulting.


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Posted by check it out... RESIDENT
a resident of Beratlis Place
on Jan 10, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Resident-
You really should stop posting on here. No one wants to hear what you have to say and you are bringing up your points over and over and over. Has anyone actually asked the district if it is 20 days consecutively or not? I subbed for the district many years ago and in order to get an increase in pay it had to be consecutive days and I signed a contract. Are you just assuming and spouting your assumptions on here to make your point?
Have you checked your facts?? or are you just spouting your assumptions? If so, then that is irresponsible and you should not abuse this post like that. Accept a little responsibility in what you are saying like... Stacy... or Kathleen.. that actually research their facts. I do not agree with them- quite often, but do respect what they say because they do their research.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Here is the fact sheet from the governor's site, posting it again in case you want to read it:

Web Link

From talking to people who sub, it is my understanding that long term subs have to have a teaching credential. Regular subs (who have a bachelor's and pass the CBEST test but do not have a teaching credential) cannot sub for more than a certain number of consecutive days. The governor is addressing the cost of substitutes because right now, districts have laid off teachers and those are more expensive to have as subs.

The cost of substitutes is obviously a concern to more people than just me. The governor is proposing reforms which includes changes to the substitute teaching requirements, and they do that for financial reasons. Again what the governor's proposal says:

"For districts that have laid‑off teachers, existent provisions significantly increase substitute teacher costs and could force additional layoffs and cuts to classroom spending."

This would not be a concern if substitute teachers were an occasional, random occurrence. It is obviously happening often enough for the cost to be a burden on the school districts.

I am sure the California Teacher's Association will try to fight and discredit the proposals. One of them is for seniority rules.

I will not stop posting just because you ask. You can always not read my comments.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2010 at 4:42 pm

"First you complain that your child doesn't learn anything when there's a sub, then you complain when the sub is a teacher."

I do not agree with having subs when not needed, period. It does not matter if that sub is a teacher or not. When a teacher calls a sub so he/she can go as chaperone on a field trip, that is a very irresponsible thing to do because not only is that teacher showing little concern for his/her students, he/she is also ignoring the financial burden to the school district.

Read the fact sheet, please. You will see that the financial burden to districts is not my concern only. It is now in the proposed budget reforms to education. There is a reason for that.


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Posted by Karen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I don't mind the posts by Resident. I'm learning about a lot of different issues. Even though Resident has been corrected, some of his/her points are things that many parents can relate to. Keep posting Resident - don't be intimidated from doing so. Seems like there's some bullying here.

Thank you Kathleen for your many informative posts - especially the last one (above) which was reasoned and thoughtful. I always read you all the way through.

To the teachers on this board: wow. I don't even know where to begin.

One point though: Teaching to the test is OK with me because it is more transparent now about what is being learned (or not learned as the case may be).

Kathleen - I look forward to your posts. Everyone here should google Arne Duncan (and Michele Rhee) to learn about possibilities for Education in the future.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm

To Karen,

"Keep posting Resident - don't be intimidated from doing so. Seems like there's some bullying here."

"Kathleen - I look forward to your posts"

But when someone says I should stop posting, with far worse language than the above, do you see that as okay?


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Posted by Jen
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 10, 2010 at 5:56 pm

We get your point, resident. Move on.

Unfortunately, the way you choose to communicate your ideas alienates people, as it is quite antagonistic.

Yes, there probably is abuse of sick & PN days. No, a teacher shouldn't have to choose a completely different career path just because they want to attend their child's school performance. Be reasonable and mellow out!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 10, 2010 at 6:20 pm

To add some levity, my children are embarrassed about me doing this. I bought one of them a t-shirt that says: "More people have read my shirt than your blog 000002"


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2010 at 7:01 pm

"We get your point, resident. Move on."

I will not take orders from you. You are free to stop reading my posts.

"Yes, there probably is abuse of sick & PN days"

Regardless of what you think of my posts, it looks like you agree with the overall message.

For those who want to read the fact sheet:
Web Link

It is titled "Putting Children's Education Ahead of Special Interests and Protecting Classroom Spending: Education Reforms in the 2010-2011 Budget"


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Posted by Need a similar document for teachers
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 10, 2010 at 7:21 pm

On the Pleasanton School District website there is a document that talks about the cost of students' absences.
Web Link

They emphasize that children should be absent only if they are sick.

A similar document should be created for teachers' absences. The document should include the amount of money it costs the district, as well as recommendations for when the district thinks it is a good idea for a teacher to be absent. In the document for students, it is stated that when students are sick, they should not go to school. But they discourage elective absences.


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Posted by Need a similar document for teachers
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 10, 2010 at 7:25 pm

On the Pleasanton School District website there is a document that talks about the cost of students' absences.

Web Link

Click on 'BAC Elective Absence Flyer'

They emphasize that children should be absent only if they are sick.

A similar document should be created for teachers' absences. The document should include the amount of money it costs the district, as well as recommendations for when the district thinks it is a good idea for a teacher to be absent. In the document for students, it is stated that when students are sick, they should not go to school. But they discourage elective absences.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Oh I get it. We encourage parents to participate in their child's education unless they are a teacher. Then their child takes a back seat to some other child. WHAT? Are you kidding?

It is irresponsible for a teacher to take a personal use day to participate in his or her own child's educational experience? I am stunned! Is it irresponsible for that same teacher to take a day to take her class on a field trip? Kids who don't attend then need a sub, especially true in secondary school. Is it irresponsible for a teacher to leave the classroom to coach, say football? (sub needed) or band review? (sub needed) or school business at the district office, (sub needed) or comp civics, (sub needed).

Teachers get ten day a year. Most accumulate them in case of catastrophic illness. Some get used if you have a young child who has an extended illness. Some times teachers take a day to get caught up on the mounds of grading,(which is done particularly in secondary classes. I suppose sometimes a teacher takes a day to. . well, that would be none of your business.


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Posted by Need similar document for teachers
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2010 at 9:55 pm

"We encourage parents to participate in their child's education unless they are a teacher"

There are different ways to participate in your child's education. You can do so without missing work. Not every working parent chooses to miss work to attend a school related activity.

"It is irresponsible for a teacher to take a personal use day to participate in his or her own child's educational experience?"

Yes because their job requires their presence. A teacher who is not at work needs to hire someone to take their place. Other jobs do not have this requirement. The absent teacher and the person hired to do their job that day are both paid.

"that would be none of your business."
It is because my tax money pays for a teacher's salary. We are indirectly the teachers' employers and as such, we have a say in what is acceptable and what is not. Most companies would have a problem with an employee's unnecessary day off if that meant hiring someone else and paying both the employee and the extra person they have to hire.

I am now 100 percent convinced that a document is needed for teachers: one that explains the cost of teachers' elective absences as well as what the school district considers a non-elective absence.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 10, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

This discussion really takes away from the bigger picture of total district costs and expenditures. I think it is fair and valid to question how the rules are set up in who gets hired as a sub and how they are paid. Focusing on the minutiae of reasons for absences is a distraction. All that needs to be done from an employer perspective is to allow X number of sick days and X number of "PN" days and leave it at that. It is up to the employee on how to spend those days.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 10, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Forgot to add, if the employee needs more days, it would be normal for an employee and employer to try to negotiate something that would work for both.


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Posted by Need similar document for teachers
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 10, 2010 at 10:25 pm

"This discussion really takes away from the bigger picture of total district costs and expenditures. I think it is fair and valid to question how the rules are set up in who gets hired as a sub and how they are paid. Focusing on the minutiae of reasons for absences is a distraction. All that needs to be done from an employer perspective is to allow X number of sick days and X number of "PN" days and leave it at that. It is up to the employee on how to spend those days."

If that is the conclusion, then it is fair to say that students too have the right to be absent when they want to. They should also get 10 days when they can be absent.

If the same standard for teachers' elective absences is applied to students, then as long as a student performs, gets good grades, scores high on tests, then the student should not be told if an absence is considered elective or not.


Right now, teachers have the right to have elective absences but students who have too many elective absences in the school's opinion get a nasty letter about it.

We cannot have different standards here. Teachers should lead by example if what they want is for students to stop their elective absences which cost the schools money.

Teachers already get the summer off. That is plenty of time to be involved with their children without taking time off from work. Perhaps it is true what others say and teachers are highly paid. All that time off and on top of that elective absences during work days.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 10, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Did you know that in 2003 (iirc) the State Legislature changed the ADA calculation? In the past, an excused student absence did not negatively affect the dollars received per ADA (as opposed to an unexcused absence). The Legislature changed that. Now any absence negatively affects District revenue. That's the State for you. They waste money on the outdated and inefficient education system but pull tricks like declaring excused absences as unfunded in order to cut expenses. What are parents going to do about it?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 10, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

One question for the district would be to find out whether or not they budget according to expected actual ADA revenue instead of what they think they're entitled to. If the enrollment is X number, do they budget as if X number will be 100% in attendance or only 80% in attendance? I would think that there is an average annual expectation for attendance with which to estimate (like how the district knows that their step and column increases typically average to around $1.6MM each year). In the first case, they would always have a shortfall because of faulty assumptions. In the second case, an increase in attendance would yield a surplus.

It is actually good that the District is trying to educate the community on the effects of absences because that is one way of increasing their revenue. It is bad that the State changed the rules on absences.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2010 at 11:15 pm

"You assume that the teacher is also married to another teacher. A spouse could take care of the child."

Resident - you assume their is a spouse. What if the spouse died, or just a single parent? What if the spouse is in the military, perhaps at war. Of what if the spouse is just traveling on business or the spouse just can't take a day off without getting fired?

You apparently are in an ideal situation where you and your spouse are both working professionals in very flexible jobs who never travel and make very good money. That is great for you, but the rest of us may not have it as well. So until you can see the point of view from someone who's situation in life is not perfect, I don't think I want you determining who can and can not take a personal day.

Its seems off that all these people are upset that someone would take a personal day to see their child's assembly because it hurts the children in the classroom, but have no problems calling for the same teachers to take a pay cut.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2010 at 11:24 pm

"If the same standard for teachers' elective absences is applied to students, then as long as a student performs, gets good grades, scores high on tests, then the student should not be told if an absence is considered elective or not."


Its truly bizarre that someone would compare a teacher's absence to a students. I guess that's why there are so many screwed up kids in this town.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2010 at 11:27 pm

"Perhaps it is true what others say and teachers are highly paid."

Teachers SHOULD be highly paid. You post almost makes it sound like an insult that a teacher could be highly paid.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2010 at 5:50 am

Need similar document

Teachers don't take the summer off, they are only paid for days worked. They do NOT get paid vacations.

Your child's performance and behavior often is a reflection of what is going on in the home. It affects a teacher's work environment, as well as those of the other children, sometimes positively, when you are integral to your child's educational experience, and sometimes negatively, when a family is having personal issues. Does that allow the teacher to make judgments on what is personal to you?

Because it is tax dollars does not give you the right to make individual personal judgments. Where are you getting these entitlements? (That is rhetorical, in case you are wondering.)


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Posted by Need similar document for teachers
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 11, 2010 at 7:45 am

"Teachers don't take the summer off, they are only paid for days worked"

However you want to look at it. If their summer is not paid, then they are being paid for 10 months of work. When you divide their yearly salary by 10 it is easy to see that they get a good salary.

"Your child's performance and behavior often is a reflection of what is going on in the home."

I agree. That is why it is not required for a parent to be present at school. What you do at home is much more important than being present at a school activity. Well adjusted children do not need their parents at school with them. It is nice for the parents who can attend their kids' events, but it will not be detrimental in any way for the kids whose parents cannot attend. Well adjusted kids do well because of how they have been raised.

"Because it is tax dollars does not give you the right to make individual personal judgments. Where are you getting these entitlements? (That is rhetorical, in case you are wondering.)"

Where do teachers get the entitlement to be off from work in a different manner than the rest of the workers in this country? Most workers in this country would not be allowed to take elective time off if that means their employer has to pay for another employee for that day.

Two teachers knocked on my door last spring, lobbying for a parcel tax. I think I do have the right to make judgments. When the people that indirectly work for me knock on my door asking for additional money to avoid layoffs, and yet those same people think nothing of elective days off which cost money, I think I have every right to make judgments.


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Posted by Need similar document for teachers
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Jan 11, 2010 at 7:48 am

"Teachers SHOULD be highly paid. "

They are when you consider that they only work 10 months and get plenty of time off during the 10 months they are supposed to be working.

It should not be a problem then to go without a raise during this economic downturn. Step and column is not necessary until we get out of this recession.


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Posted by Need similar document for teachers
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 11, 2010 at 7:51 am

"Its truly bizarre that someone would compare a teacher's absence to a students"

A student's elective absence does not affect the other students. The teacher's elective absence affects all the students in that teacher's class.


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Posted by Need similar document for teachers
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 11, 2010 at 7:57 am

"Did you know that in 2003 (iirc) the State Legislature changed the ADA calculation? In the past, an excused student absence did not negatively affect the dollars received per ADA (as opposed to an unexcused absence)."

I am not aware about ADA calculations. The school district's document that talks about elective absences states that if a student is at school for any part of the day then the school gets the ADA money for that student for that day.

The school district discourages elective student absences in order to avoid the loss of the ADA money.

If the school is so concerned about the decreased revenue due to a student's elective absence, they should also be concerned about the increase in cost due to teacher's elective absence.


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Posted by Need similar document for teachers
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 11, 2010 at 8:22 am

Comparing again a student's vs. a teacher's elective absence:

Per the school district's elective absence document:
It costs the school district $51.54 for the day of the student's elective absence.

I do not know how much it costs the district for one teacher's elective absence, but I read somewhere that a substitute teacher gets paid 100+ per day.

A teacher's elective absence costs the district more than a student's elective absence.

The school district makes a big deal about a student's elective absence. Why don't they do the same for a teacher's elective absence given that the teacher's elective absence is more costly?


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2010 at 9:53 am

"Where do teachers get the entitlement to be off from work in a different manner than the rest of the workers in this country?"

What manner does your job provide time from work?

All companies I've worked for have similar time off policies to teachers (the last couple combined personal days, vacation days, floating holidays, etc.) A couple companies I worked for had unlimited sick days other had an annual allotment/accrual.


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Posted by By the way
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2010 at 10:26 am

By the way- We should really look into what special education students are costing a district. I am not a teacher in Pleasanton, but another district, but I know that happens in Pleasanton as well. We have a student that is emotionally disturbed. We do not have a specific ED class because we do not have enough students for that. Therefore, because we cannot meet his needs, the district pays for private placement. Now the district is being asked by the parent and his lawyers to pay for a placement in New Mexico that costs 100,000 per school year. I work in a small school district and this is going to really hurt us.
I know that Pleasanton has several cases where the district pays for students to go to school somewhere else- sometimes in other states or facilities with huge costs. I know that every child should receive a free and public education, but the cost of this one child at the expense of the well being of so many others doesn't make sense.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2010 at 10:38 am

By the way - while its a reasonable idea, there is not much point. Most all of the special education expenses are federally mandated (but of course underfunded) so there is very little room for a school district to make any changes in the cost.

Its definitely a difficult situation as the costs for special education continues to increase and the total funding to the schools decreases, it's the average kid (the majority of the students)that suffers.


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Posted by wondering.....
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Jan 11, 2010 at 4:26 pm

How do the districts pay for subs and can someone who really knows what they're talking about get on here instead of a bunch of people who THINK they know what they're talking about with NO FACTS?
Someone from the district?
Do they factor the cost of substitutes into the budget each year? What portion of the budget is that?


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Posted by Do you see why?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2010 at 4:30 pm

After reading all this, it is clear that those who want to keep the status quo will use the most ridiculous arguments and attack those who point out the need for change.

Those who want to simply get more money instead of reducing expenses have argued and argued their point without understanding that they sound ridiculous.

A teacher's right to days off for fun at the expense of students and the school district's finances? What is so hard to understand? Teachers days off COST MONEY, and it is something that needs to be looked at. On top of their salary and benefits, teachers' have days off which cost money because students cannot be left alone. This teaching job is different than other jobs. Other jobs with paid days off do not require the additional expense of a second temporary employee to take over work duties.

Do you now see why most choose to remain quiet? Why we never go to board meetings? Why we do not even confront the teacher when the teacher is out of line?

Most will continue to speak with their wallets.

Do not be surpised if fundraising efforts fail and parcel taxes are defeated again. After all, not all of us agree with keeping the status quo.

Enough is enough. SPENDING IS OUT OF CONTROL, the administration just gave themselves nice contracts, teachers do not understand that their perks and raises will not be tolerated anymore now that money is tight. Times have changed, we are in a RECESSION, everyone needs to tighten their belts. Teachers and administrators should not be immune to the current economic situation. No raises, cut UNNECESSARY expenses, roll back salaries if needed, trim staff at the admin level, and stop the generous administrative perks.


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Posted by Article about substitues
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Found this article/opinion about substitutes, the costs and implications, and proposed remedies. It was written by the superintendent of another school district.

To view the article/opinion:

Web Link

Title: "School district practices that encourage teacher absenteeism - Personnel Management"

Written by: by Evan Pitkoff

Text of the article, written by Evan Pitkoff:

"Instruction suffers when teachers are absent from their classes. A substitute teacher generally cannot maintain the continuity and quality of instruction that the regular classroom teacher can. It also is costly because both the regular and substitute teacher get paid.

While most teacher absences overwhelmingly are legitimate and we do not want sick teachers coming to school, teacher absenteeism is growing. According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, the typical student spends the equivalent of one full year during the K12 experience under the supervision of substitute teachers. District and school policies are partly at fault for allowing this to occur.
What follows is a list of ways in which school districts enable teacher absenteeism and how these practices can be remedied.

* Personal days. Most teacher contracts allow for absence for personal reasons. Unfortunately, these days are often taken as an entitlement rather than for reasons of urgency. Personal days generally expire at the end of each school year, encouraging a "use it or lose it" mentality, and many teachers choose to use them rather than lose them.

Remedy: Personal days should be limited, monitored and re-titled "emergency leave days." Use contract language such as "emergency leave absence is used solely for circumstances in which absence from service is necessary and unavoidable." Teachers should be required to provide a bona fide reason for their absence.

* Generous sick leave provisions. Some research suggests the greater the number of sick days available, the greater the number of sick days taken. The number of days often is dictated by state statute, and most states allow for greater amounts of sick time than in business and industry. The result is that educators have a higher proportion of absenteeism.

Remedies: Seek to reduce the number of sick days allowed each year. Most state legislators, however, would consider this a "hot potato" issue that they would not want to touch for fear of losing financial support of the teachers' unions. At the least, limit your allocations to the state-mandated minimum.

* Sick leave banks. Typically, teachers participate in this program by annually donating one or more unused sick leave days to the district bank. Participating teachers who are ill and have depleted their sick leave accumulations then use or borrow sick leave days.
Sick leave banks result in higher short-term absenteeism. They send the message to some teachers that they can use more of their sick days than needed each year because it really is not necessary to have an accumulation of days in the event of a catastrophic illness.

Remedy: Eliminate sick leave banks.

* Conference leave. It is ironic that often districts attempt to improve the quality of instruction by taking the regular classroom teacher away from the classroom to attend a training workshop, thereby reducing quality instructional time.

Remedies: When possible, schedule district staff development opportunities outside of the mandated number of instructional days. Evenings, weekends and after school are good times to hold workshops without reducing student and teacher contact time. Educational service centers and consultants who conduct in-service activities must change their availability to accommodate the needs of school districts.

* Lack of awareness of absenteeism. One day here and one day there adds up, but often school employees are unaware of the cumulative effect of their absences.

Remedies: Talk to individual teachers upon their return from absences. This can be an opportunity to show concern for the teacher's health. It also is a way to confront those who abuse sick leave privileges.
Provide individual monthly reports that track absences by the month as well as cumulatively. Some districts include this information on employee pay stubs.
Make attendance part of the teacher's annual evaluation, and reward excellent attendance.

* Lack of direct communication. Often teachers need only to leave a message on an answering machine to report an impending absence or report their absences to an aide who handles the substitute assignments for the district. Nowadays, even temporary employment agencies have become involved in providing substitute teacher services. These agencies have a vested interest in seeing higher absenteeism rates.

Remedy: When teachers are required to speak directly to a principal to report an impending absence they are less likely to be absent.

* Paying the salary difference. Some districts allow teachers to be absent from school with pay for personal reasons when the teacher has no remaining personal days if the teacher agrees to pay for the substitute. The district in this instance is providing a salary incentive for absenteeism.

Remedy: Do not allow teachers to be absent simply because they will cover the lesser cost of the substitute teachers.

* Vacations when school is in session. When school closings abound in the winter due to inclement weather, many districts will reduce the number of days of spring vacation to avoid a late ending of the school year. In this circumstance, some districts allow employees who already made vacation plans for spring break to go on vacation, leaving an army of substitutes and combined classes in the schools. This does not provide for an optimal instructional environment in the school.

Remedies: Districts should make their schedule and potential weather-related calendar policies clear and available for all school employees in advance. Teachers should be warned to have trip cancellation insurance available for vacations that could potentially conflict with school being in session. Teachers should not be allowed to take vacations during the time when school is in session.
Evan Pitkoff is superintendent of the Newtown Public Schools, 4 Fairfield Circle South, Newtown, CT 06470. E-mail: pitkoffe@newtown.k12.ct.us
COPYRIGHT 2003 American Association of School Administrators
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group "


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Posted by "old tenured" 30yr old
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 12:43 am

Are you telling me that your employers do not offer sick days, or personal necessity days? That is not figured into your pay? Why would it be different for teachers? Why would our needs be any different? Are you the gatekeeper qualified to tell me it is ok for me to be at my dying father's bed, but not with my sick child? Is this how your employer does it? Where do you get the right to say I can't be there for my sick family members?

Your generalizations about having a "fun" day off are just another attempt to insult and degrade the professionalism of those working in this district. I have not heard any of these comments before the information about parents taking kids out of school for vacations came up. You want alternatives to solving the budget issue but when it is brought up, the defensive slander begins.

Have you thought to ask how many average days teachers in this district have accrued? I'm at 53 days. I know some with over 100 days. Your attitude and insolent comments are unforgettable.


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Posted by To Old Tenured
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 6:38 am

Did you read the article posted above? It was written by the superintendent of a different school district, and it addresses all the concerns a lot of people have about teachers' elective time off.

Maybe the Pleasanton School district board of trustees should read it and get a clue.

Here are a few interesting portions of that article:

""Instruction suffers when teachers are absent from their classes. A substitute teacher generally cannot maintain the continuity and quality of instruction that the regular classroom teacher can. It also is costly because both the regular and substitute teacher get paid."

"While most teacher absences overwhelmingly are legitimate and we do not want sick teachers coming to school, teacher absenteeism is growing. According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, the typical student spends the equivalent of one full year during the K12 experience under the supervision of substitute teachers. District and school policies are partly at fault for allowing this to occur."

"* Personal days. Most teacher contracts allow for absence for personal reasons. Unfortunately, these days are often taken as an entitlement rather than for reasons of urgency. Personal days generally expire at the end of each school year, encouraging a "use it or lose it" mentality, and many teachers choose to use them rather than lose them."

"* Generous sick leave provisions. Some research suggests the greater the number of sick days available, the greater the number of sick days taken. The number of days often is dictated by state statute, and most states allow for greater amounts of sick time than in business and industry. The result is that educators have a higher proportion of absenteeism."


It looks like the concern for teacher absences extends beyond the Pleasanton School District.




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Posted by Gary Schwaegerle
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 12, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Gary Schwaegerle is a registered user.

It Great to see so many people get invloved with compassion & concern for Our Schools & Children - Gary Schwaegerle


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Posted by "old tenured" 30yr old
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:12 am

"Personal days. Most teacher contracts allow for absence for personal reasons. Unfortunately, these days are often taken as an entitlement rather than for reasons of urgency. Personal days generally expire at the end of each school year, encouraging a "use it or lose it" mentality, and many teachers choose to use them rather than lose them."

And this is a researched fact here? You miss my point, the instances of abuse with those I work with are far and few between. How many have multiple days saved? So many are quick jump to thinking the worst of teachers without any facts.

To think of the times I and others I work with have struggled through working under issues such as premature labor, broken bones, hospitalized family memebers, home emergencies, and for what?! This kind of judgement? So take these PN days away! Is this going to take away any future emergencies I may face?

The audacity of this community telling me that their family is more important than mine is ubelievable.