School board meeting to be broadcast at 8 a.m. today

Board faced packed assembly as it considered $8 million in cuts for coming year

Last Tuesday night's Pleasanton school board meeting will be broadcast for the last time on TV30's Channel 28 starting at 8 a.m. today.

For those planning to record the broadcast for later viewing, TiVo's or other recording devices should be set for at least 4 hours of recording time.

Another school board meeting is scheduled for this Tuesday (Feb. 9) starting at 7 p.m. and again in the Amador Valley High School multipurpose room. Although that meeting also will be Webcast live on the school district's Website, TV30 will once again videotape the meeting for later broadcast.

The meetings are being held at Amador because of the large number of participants, too many to be accommodated in the board meeting room at the school district's headquarters where live community television broadcasts can be aired.

The school multipurpose room was packed for last Tuesday night's special board meeting where many parents and academic program advocates spoke passionately about services and programs they can't imagine losing as the board considers making at least $8 million in budget reductions in the 2010-11 school year.

If the option of a seventh period is taken away from high school students, band parents say the successful music programs will likely be decimated. If physical education specialists are cut, others said it would only overwhelm the classroom teachers that would be required to cover the subjects. The elementary schools were also represented by many parents who say the youngest students are facing disproportionate cuts.

Some of the items on the potential cut list include elimination of reading specialists and the Barton program; class-size reduction; counselors, PE, music and science specialists.

PUSD's projected shortfall was recently upped to $8 million to account for risky assumptions in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget. Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services, said she plans to account for $6.9 billion of the $19.9 billion deficit with new, ongoing and unrestricted federal dollars.

The rest of the district's shortfall is based on $1.3 million of one-time dollars spent on programs in the current year, $2.3 million in rollover costs and $3.3 million in decreased state funding. In looking into the 2011-12 school year, the district anticipates making further reductions of $1.8 million in rollover costs.

Responding to those who have said to use reserves for this "rainy day" crisis, Cazares said to use the $3.6 million in reserves would be a "delay tactic, not a solution." The funds would need to be replenished and the action could lead to the county having control over the board and district spending, making cuts as it sees fit.

Cazares said that the current crisis isn't necessarily an unforeseen "rainy day" whereas like the instance of mold in Hearst Elementary School was unexpected and unforeseen.

Superintendent John Casey told the audience not to panic yet. There is still time to gather funding and save programs, he said, but the board still needs to identify the $8 million in possible cuts to be prepared. The district is currently in the process of developing surveys to send to parents, asking them for their priorities and how much they would be willing to donate to save the programs. Employee concessions are also being considered, he added.

A parent group also may form another fundraising effort, similar to the I Love Pleasanton Schools campaign that took place over the summer.

Long-term solutions being considered include developing a foundation and endowment; petitioning changes in legislation, such as changing the majority threshold of a parcel tax to 55 percent instead of two-thirds; and a parcel tax. The Budget Advisory Committee has created specific subcommittees to explore various revenue-enhancing solutions.

Resources outlining the potential cuts, the impact of the previous year's cuts for the 2009-10 school year and a draft of the surveys to parents are available on the school district's website,

-Emily West

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Like this comment
Posted by P-town Dad
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:40 am

Was there any discussion of reducing expenses in areas that don't directly affect children, such as district expenses or salary freezes or reductions?

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:43 am

Where did you get the details on this? They are extremely biased in their reporting. The markets are crashing today as Greece, Spain etc. are being decimated on sovereign debt risk. U.K. and U.S. are coming up.We have no choice but to cut salaries, pensions etc.

Like this comment
Posted by Describer
a resident of Laguna Vista
on Feb 4, 2010 at 9:17 am

I say salary cuts across the whole district 15% would save a lot of programs. Several corporations did this, saved jobs and ended up making profit in the end. I am a teacher in waiting and want to volunteer my salary (I have support!) PUSD and several other districts said no thank you!!! Well, this type of volunteer could give this district high quality service for free!!! They said NO!!!
I have my credential and Master's to boot!!!

Like this comment
Posted by HonestMom
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Feb 4, 2010 at 2:35 pm

HonestMom is a registered user.

Yep: Problem at this point is the teachers union refusing to budge on wage concessions. The NEA and state teachers union would rather let the kids suffer than face reality and offer up some wage concessions and reduce some ofthe expesnive programs. At some point things will start to come crashing down thanks to these unions.

Like this comment
Posted by mannyman
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 4, 2010 at 2:36 pm

mannyman is a registered user.

"such as district expenses or salary freezes or reductions?"

How are these not directly affecting students? If these do not, please tell we what expenditures the district has that directly affect students?

Like this comment
Posted by mannyman
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm

mannyman is a registered user.

Just curious as to why its the teachers responsibility to take a pay cut to save educational programs?

Like this comment
Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Feb 5, 2010 at 8:41 am

SteveP is a registered user.

Teachers are not the only one's responsible, it's everyone on the district's payroll. Labor is one of the biggest expenses (if not the biggest), along with benefits.
You will get the biggest bang for the buck by addressing cuts to the largest expnses items on the district budget.

Like this comment
Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 5, 2010 at 8:51 am

Sandy is a registered user.

To answer P-town dad, "Was there any discussion of reducing expenses in areas that don't directly affect children, such as district expenses?"

There are a number of district expenses included on the cut list.
- $72,000 reduction in district office professional services
- $450,000 reduction in site and district office classified support positions (2 each at Amador and Foothill, one at each middle school, and 3 in the district office)

On the negotiable items, if work days are reduced for teachers, they are also reduced for classified staff and for management (including the superintendent and assistant superintendents). I don't think it would be a stretch to ask management to commit to those furlough days now, before negotiations with the unions are completed.

I don't know what fraction of the $450K per day of work days is attributed to management. There are only 44 management positions left, and next year the total will probably only be 41, since the cut list also includes the reduction of 3 management employees at the sites (1 elementary VP and 1 each at Amador and Foothill.) (I do think that eliminating those positions will impact students directly, but others might disagree).

The other negotiable item that would impact district staff would be the outsourcing of the warehouse and graphics departments (projected savings $250,000). That will affect students indirectly, if teachers cannot get worksheets and such copied as quickly, but it would probably not be all that noticeable to parents or students.

So, that would add up to $772,000 in savings from cuts in district expenses and an unknown fraction of the $450K per day saved if work days are reduced.

Last year, management (including district office salaried employees and site principals and vice principals) made voluntary concessions as well, even though the unions did not (after the failure of measure G). With the fundraising from ILPP (which I believe raised about $450,000 in July and August) and the voluntary concessions and other late-in-the-game cuts in district expenses, $1.3 million in programs were restored for the current school year, including about 15 FTE in jobs.

So last year the voluntary concessions must have been pretty significant, if only 44 management team members generated somewhere between $200,000 and $400,000 in total (that's my estimate, the number is not broken out anywhere in particular). That works out to somewhere between $4,500 and $9,000 in concessions from each management team employee, on average.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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