News


Ott says he won't seek re-election to the Pleasanton school board

'It's time to pass the baton on to the next person'

Jim Ott, a member of the Pleasanton school board since 2006, has announced that he will not seek re-election to the board in November "in order to give others in the community an opportunity to become part of this board."

"Serving in this important leadership position has been a challenge and an honor," Ott said. "But it's much like a relay team. It's time to pass the baton on to the next person."

Ott becomes the first of two current school board members whose terms expire in November to announce his intentions. Pat Kernan, the longest serving school trustee, whose term also expires this year, told the Weekly that he has not decided if he will seek re-election.

Referring to the current school budget deficit that now totals $8 million, Ott said: "It's certainly a challenging time to be on the board. But I want to be able to provide an opportunity for other people in the community to become part of the school board."

"We've had a lot of people come to our meetings who obviously have interest in our school district and have been making many contributions to it," he said. "I've had my chance and would like to see others run for a board seat and then participate directly in making decisions as well. I've had my chance and enjoyed it."

Ott, who is the chief executive officer of UNCLE Credit Union, was first appointed to the school board in May 2006 to replace board member Gloria Fredette, who resigned. He ran for election to a full four-year term of office in November 2006 along with Kernan, who was seeking to be re-elected. Since nobody else that time, the two were declared inners in the uncontested race without ever facing voters.

Ott recalled that in his first few years on the board, ample budget dollars made it possible to increase programs in the school district and to hire more counselors, reducing the ratio of the number of high school counselors-to-students significantly. Today, with a budget deficit in the current school year and a much greater one for next year, the board's challenge is just the opposite: finding ways to trim expenses without major cuts in programs and services in the schools.

"I'm not going anywhere for now, however," Ott said. "I still have another eight to nine months to serve. During that time, we'll approve a new fiscal year budget and hire a new school superintendent."

Superintendent John Casey has announced his retirement effective at the end of June, ending eight years at the helm of the Pleasanton district. An executive search organization is now interviewing prospective successors to his position, with the decision to be made by the school board in May.

Ott said he is announcing his decision now to give time to those who might want to run for his board seat ample time to prepare their campaigns.

"I wanted to make the announcement to give people an opportunity to pull their resources together and start to think about it," Ott said. "It takes time and effort to run a campaign."

Besides his executive responsibilities at UNCLE, Ott also teaches English in the evening at Las Positas College and hosts a regular book review program on community television TV30, called "In a Word."

He is a board member on the Las Positas College Foundation and the Livermore Chamber of Commerce, and has served as chairman of both boards.

Ott, who is 53, is married to Pamela Ott, director of economic development for the city of Pleasanton, and has two daughters: Melissa, 17, a senior at Amador Valley High School, and Kelsey, 14, who is in eighth grade at Harvest Park Middle School.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Jim Ott
a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 5, 2010 at 8:27 am

Thanks to the Weekly for reporting on my choice to step down from the board after my term concludes at the end of this year. I will have served some four and one half years, and I'm hopeful others who have been active in school issues in recent years will step forward to run for election.

Being on the board requires a lot of time, but it is so rewarding. Having the chance to serve our students and our community is a wonderful opportunity, and I encourage people to consider running.

In the meantime, I will be working hard for our students as we address a number of challenges and opportunites, including identifying a new superintendent and getting our budget finalized for next year.

Thanks to all of Pleasanton for the opportunity to serve on the school board.

Jim Ott





Like this comment
Posted by Jen
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 5, 2010 at 8:49 am

Thank you for your service, Mr. Ott. You will be missed.


Like this comment
Posted by Janine Mattison
a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Mar 5, 2010 at 9:22 am

We will miss you Jim! I always enjoy hearing your level headed decisions and questioning. You have made such a great contribution for our children and the City of Pleasanton.


Like this comment
Posted by WRonSutton
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2010 at 9:27 am

Pleasanton has a long history of active, parental and community involvement in the Pleasanton USD, which means that the PUSD Trustees have had to make lots of tough decisions in allocating the resources available to best meet the needs of our students, while addressing the interests of those active participants.
Jim Ott has provided great trustee leadership during that time. His experience as a businessman and as a teacher have been good for the Board and his combination of talents will be missed.
Thank you , Jim.


Like this comment
Posted by Opportunity
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 10:53 am

This is now an opportunity for some new members of the community to take up some leadership. We should have two seats with no incumbent running (I assume that Pat will not run again since he does not live in Pleasanton). I am looking for leaders who can research issues and talk with the public and not just accept all the staff suggestions. That is, I want leadership that works for the residents, not the employees.


Like this comment
Posted by David Walden
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2010 at 11:22 am

Thanks to Jim for all of his hard work on behalf of the students of Pleasanton. I don't see how Jim does all that he does for the community along with trying to keep an actual paying job:-)


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 2:22 pm

"I want leadership that works for the residents, not the employees." WELL SAID


Like this comment
Posted by der
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Jim Ott is a really cool dude.


Like this comment
Posted by Interesting timing
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Interesting timing for someone who never had to run against anyone for the office (first appointed, then no opponent in the election a few short months after that). Mr. Ott now decides it's time to leave/move on, just like Dr. Casey.

Not hard to run a financially rich school district--when times were good, that is--which was the bulk of Dr. Casey's and Mr. Ott's tenures at PUSD.

Now that the going's gotten tough financially, and tough decisions are having to be made, PUSD officials are dropping like flies.

Just a coincidence? Maybe, but it sure appears like it's, "hey, sorry, this isn't easy anymore/this isn't just deciding where to spend all the money and what new programs, etc. to add--I've got to make really hard, possibly unpopular choices now that aren't easy decisions. I'm outta here. Let someone else deal with the bad times."

Sorry, I don't share others' sentiments as stated above.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 3:24 pm

interesting timing -- I am with you on this. Ott was nothing but a yes man to Casey. He was there for the lawsuit fiasco as well as the contract extentions for senior management and approval of the excessive pay pagkage for Casey. He failed to oppose a non-resident being on the board and has made no contributions other than spending more money, digging the district into a deeper hole.
He can go be a "really cool dude" on his own time now. He has wasted enough money in this district.


Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 5, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I will soon announce my candidacy...my motto: A CHICKEN IN EVERY POT!

EDUCATION FREE FOR ALL!

WEEKLY GARAGE SALES!

BACK TO THE ABACUS!

more details later...

signed,

Marie


Like this comment
Posted by Kernan should follow Ott's lead
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2010 at 4:44 pm

I hope Kernan follows Ott and decides not to run. We need true leadership, and for the board members to be true residents of Pleasanton rather than rely on technicalities.


Like this comment
Posted by What a Coincidence
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2010 at 4:55 pm

When the going gets tough....the WHIMPS get going.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 5:11 pm

You last few posters are right. It takes a real man to sit there in your underwear and post on an anonymous blog! This is the forum that will lead our community to greatness!
Thank you to Jim and the many like him who have run for office, showed up at meetings and been true community leaders.
This is a horrible time to be running for a seat on the school board. There's a lot of heavy lifting ahead! Let's see who has what it takes to throw their hat in the ring, and then let's thank them and congratulate them for at least having what it takes to step forward...


Like this comment
Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2010 at 7:56 pm

"That is, I want leadership that works for the residents, not the employees."
Many employees are residents of Pleasanton, they are one and the same.


Like this comment
Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Get the facts, are you saying that the residents at large have the same interests as employees of the district?

The residents and the employees are not one in the same. What a stupid remark.


Like this comment
Posted by Diana
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Mar 6, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Mr. Ott, thank you for your well intended service.

That is a good first step. Next Mr. Kernan, Pleasanton's non-resident trustee, must step down as well.

Third we need Candidates that will not be more of the same.
Beware of candidates like Jeff Bowser who is a past PUSD teacher and administrator as well as the husband of a PUSD teacher, a solid Union candidate. If they are endorsed by the union, JUST SAY NO.

While I know he is not likely to do so I would like to see Steve Brozosky run again. In Steve's 18 months on the Board he was the most effective trustee Pleasanton has had in a decade. Steve has always invited potential candidates to contact him for guidance.


Like this comment
Posted by Alex
a resident of Parkside
on Mar 6, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I don't know Mr. Ott personally, but I am aware of the level of commitment and hard work this man puts in. Whether one agrees with his politics or not, Mr. Ott is a community leader who has continued to serve in the face of significant trials. I respect him for his dedication and hard work in the interest of this community--something most of us don't even begin to approach.


Like this comment
Posted by No thanks
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2010 at 6:47 pm

We need candidates who will be able to act in the best interest in the community. This means being able to analyze what Casey proposed.

While Jim is being thanked by many, do you guys not realize that he is one of the people who voted to approve the unions concessions? Let's see, the 3 furlough days do not even pay for the step and column (raises), do we really have to thank someone for his contributions?

On another post, someone pointed out how the savings from the concessions do not come close to making up the expense of the raises that were agreed to in the 3 year contract.

Thanks Jim? Yes, but for agreeing to step down.


Like this comment
Posted by No thanks
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Here is the post:

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by No thanks
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2010 at 6:52 pm

The above was the link to the post. This is the post (I am just doing a cut and paste):

"To 'parent volunteer' -

8 days of not working spread over 2 years = $2.88 million

Teacher layoffs for 2010-11 (from 'concessions') = $2.56 million

Amount of teacher raises in 2010-11 = ~$1.5 million

Cumulative teacher raises by 2011-12 = ~$4.5 million

Cumulative teacher raises at end of 3 year contract = ~$9.0 million

What was the 'bargain' you think was agreed to?

When PUSD and APT have a long-term 4 year fiscally responsible plan in place, then a 4 year parcel tax will get the community's support. The tune has remained the same, thank-you."


Like this comment
Posted by Rat Turd
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2010 at 6:53 pm

We need to request the resignations of every member of the city council and also the school board for the terrible job and I mean terrible job they have and are doing. We need a fresh start. Acually we need to find out if they can be sued personally for what they have done.


Like this comment
Posted by My 2/100
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 6, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I have low expectations of Rat Turd, and she consistently fails to live up to them.


Like this comment
Posted by Time To
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 6, 2010 at 8:49 pm

It's time for all of you who "know" what's needed to fix the city and/or the district to get out from behind your keyboard and get to work. Which of you will make the commitment to be a board member, council person or be on some board or committee? You say "we", but seem to really mean someone else. It's easy to sit and complain.


Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2010 at 1:38 am

Time to, be careful what you wish for... You just might get it


Like this comment
Posted by To "Time to"
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2010 at 7:22 am

"It's easy to sit and complain."

It is even easier to sit at those meetings and say YES to everything Casey and administration proposes without much thought or analysis.

Even my children can sit and tell you that the current proposals (concessions) are not a smart move. A smart move would be to eliminate expenses we cannot afford beyond next year so that we could be financially solvent in the long run, as well as keep the cuts away from the classroom, and keep more and more cuts from happening.

The current proposal is not very smart. Not freezing step and column, not getting rid of unnecessary expenses knowing that revenue is down and can only get worse and won't improve for a while is very dumb.

These board members are either extremely hopeful or very ignorant and cannot understand that when revenue is down you don't give raises, you don't renew 3 contracts.

And the community members who either choose to blindly believe the nonsense or simply don't understand are even worse.

Then again, there is a reason why some people (yes, elected officials have not been immune to it) have gone through foreclosure. There is something to be said about getting real, dealing with the situation and moving on, rather than continue to borrow to temporarily fix the problem which eventually gets so big that foreclosures are inevitable.

Eventually PUSD will have to do something because the revenue is not getting better in 2011-12 - so how do they intend to pay for the raises then?

Eventually California will have to get smart. As more people in the private sector either lose jobs or move out of the state, how do they expect to continue to get money to pay for all those pensions and unions? Eventually California will have to find a way to get rid of the unreasonable pension obligations which are destroying the economy.


Like this comment
Posted by To "Time to"
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2010 at 7:27 am

"you don't renew 3 contracts."

meant to say : you don't renew contracts for 3 years without leaving room for re-negotiating the terms depending on what the financial situation looks like.


Like this comment
Posted by Time to
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 7, 2010 at 8:30 pm

While I strongly disagreed with many of the posters on these forums, my point was that it is time for the posters get truly involved. Stop just complaining. Read the board packets. Go to school board/city council meetings regularly. Learn the rules and regulations these bodies work under. Speak during open communication. If you have ideas, bring them forward. Run for office.

Don’t say you don’t have time. Make time if you think you have ideas worth implementing. Become actually involved in the process. Many, if all if not all, elected officials have families and jobs.

Write letters or send emails to school members/council members, but write in a tone that you would want to receive. It’s OK to disagree, but you don’t need to attack.

Gunslinger said, “be careful what you wish for... You just might get it”. What I wish for is respectful, knowledgeable dialogue, give and take. Not “my way or the highway.”


Like this comment
Posted by Be careful what you wish for
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 8, 2010 at 9:10 am

I interpret Gunslinger's comment a little differently. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it to me means:

If the people on this blog get their way and make teachers take even more pay cuts, get rid of opportunity for raises throughout their careers, etc and don't support the schools through some kind of parcel tax, here's what we'll get: the best teachers leaving our district and moving to other cities that provide better working conditions and don't promote an adversarial relationship with educators. You won't notice it overnight, but after a few years, it'll be interesting to see that Pleasanton has become the new Dublin/Livermore.


Like this comment
Posted by Interesting timing
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Note to 'Jack,' you're the definition of a hypocrite. Please, spare me re: anonymous posters. I'm sure you're the only 'Jack' in town.

Re: "Thank you to Jim and the many like him who have run for office, showed up at meetings and been true community leaders."

Jim Ott was first appointed to his seat, then had no opponent in Nov. 2006. He never 'ran' for office. He probably would have had to this fall, though. Also, "showing up at meetings" doesn't make someone a "true community leader." You've got to be joking.

Re: "This is a horrible time to be running for a seat on the school board. There's a lot of heavy lifting ahead!"

Yep, I certainly agree. If Mr. Ott is a "true community leader," then I wonder why he isn't running? He's a teacher at Las Positas College. Think he wants to challenge the status quo and rescind automatic step and column raises? That wouldn't go over well with his teaching colleagues, I'm sure.

Re: "Let's see who has what it takes to throw their hat in the ring, and then let's thank them and congratulate them for at least having what it takes to step forward..."

Agreed. It ain't Jim Ott. When the going gets tough, the tough get going (that's leadership), and the ones who don't enjoy tough going get out (that's Mr. Ott).

Maybe he can run for Mayor.


Like this comment
Posted by Interesting comment?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2010 at 11:03 am

"it'll be interesting to see that Pleasanton has become the new Dublin/Livermore. "

Interesting comment, because Livermore was used as example of a district with a parcel tax. Yes, Livermore is a very bad school district but they do have a parcel tax and their teachers are well cared for, they get raises. So why does Livermore have bad schools? Could it be because the unions get their way at the expense of a quality education for the students?


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

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