News


STEAM preschool proposal approved by school board

Discussion of possible parcel tax postponed to another meeting

A proposal for a STEAM Preschool was unanimously approved by the Pleasanton school board Tuesday night during its board meeting.

The STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) Preschool will be located at the school district's Bernal site.

Kids Club director Traci Peterson provided trustees an update about the preschool, which included an overview of a visit to Napa to see how a teacher there uses technology in their preschool program.

According to the staff report, the start-up costs of the STEAM Preschool could be funded through two different sources. The first source is the fund balance in Fund 63 (also known as the Kids Club Fund), which would serve as a loan to the preschool program to be repaid over time with interest.

The second source is a grant from the city of Pleasanton. Staff said the city has approved a one-time appropriation of $250,000 from the Lower Income Housing Fund for a potential grant to the school district to be used for new or updated facilities for underserved children in Pleasanton.

"Our thinking at this point is that we could use these funds to update the Bernal campus preschool facility and guarantee subsidized slots for underserved children," staff reports said. "While the City of Pleasanton has approved the funds, we must work with the City to access the funds."

Tuesday's proposal also included a timeline of what will be happening in the next few months in relation to the preschool, such as hiring staff, creating a curriculum committee, and renovating the Bernal site.

Mary Ellen Huey expressed her approval for the STEAM Preschool saying, "There are a lot of little children (in the community) that deserve the opportunity and the respect and the support of our school system."

In other business:

* Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation executive director Susan Hayes announced the organization will be giving the school district $515,000 for the 2015-16 school year, with funds raised from the recent PPIE Run for Education and Giving Fund.

A formal presentation of the check to board members will be at another time.

* Trustees unanimously approved the resolution to recognize Teacher's Appreciation Week on May 4-8, Day of the Teacher on May 5, and Classified Employee Week on May 18-22.

* Amador Valley's and Foothill's We the People Comp Civics team was recognized during the recognitions session of Tuesday's meeting, which included a certificate presentation by a representative from Assemblywoman Catharine Baker's office.

* A possible poll for a general obligation bond or parcel tax will be discussed at a future meeting due to the board running out of time during Tuesday's meeting.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for April 28 at 7 p.m. in the district's boardroom, 4665 Bernal Avenue.

Comments

17 people like this
Posted by Am I missing something?
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 15, 2015 at 8:26 am

I am completely baffled about this STEAM preschool. Shouldn't the district be focussed on trying to solve this common core mess especially in the Math department before taking on another project. Also who is allowed to go to this preschool? Is it just underserved kids? Who is evaluating applications for that! If the city has $250k to throw around how about getting teachers instruction on how to teach common core?? I think this is one project that should definitely be put on the back burner. If someone has better insight as to why this is such a great thing (besides PR for the district) do share!


3 people like this
Posted by Julie
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 15, 2015 at 8:26 am

The report on the potential City funds specifically indicated the 250K can only be used for capital improvements. Not operating costs.


12 people like this
Posted by Brian Puerling
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2015 at 1:48 pm

If you think putting money towards an early childhood program is considered "throwing money around" you should pick up a book about the significance of early childhood as the foundation for learning.


22 people like this
Posted by Hallie
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Since when is technology appropriate for pre-schoolers? Make the "t" stand for "tumbling". Then they can fingerpaint, do somersaults, stack blocks, sing and bang on xylophones, and count how many jumps it takes to cross the playground. There's your "STEAM" curriculum right there, and it's what all pre-schoolers should be doing anyway.


19 people like this
Posted by Am I missing something?
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 15, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Brian I am definitely not saying that preschool isn't impt. I whole heartedly agree it is. As Hallie said I am not sure this is the right way to go by starting to stress
Kids out at the age of 3 or 4. I could definitely be wrong and maybe every kid is fine learning engineering at the age of 3. However, I picked my preschool for my kids based on the art projects they included as I am not super creative. And hem learning their numbers and letters and writing them. I am very interested to see the "curriculum" they talk about and more interested in how these kids are going to be picked to be in this. I have a feeling that is going to be another problem. I am just not sure this is the best use of money right now. There are LOTS of capital improvements necessary now - if you have ever seen a basketball game in Amador gym where the ends are tile and kids are slipping from the condensation - you know what I'm talking about. The list is endless and I don't agree with how they are planning on using this money but everyone is entitled to their opinion. If they were planning a preschool for disadvantages kids or even a DI preschool for kids to learn English I would probably support that a lot more than another way for a few kids to try and get ahead. How about making sure everyone is ready for kindergarten.


5 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 15, 2015 at 6:45 pm

You have got to be kidding me. Another bond or parcel tax? Come on


13 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 15, 2015 at 7:21 pm

WHAT!!!! I'm wondering if the Pleasanton school board members are also the same people on the Bart board of wonderful decision makers???? Just a thought. How about teaching "all" our kids to "walk" before they can run!! Get back to basics people, would this pre-school be available to every kid under 5 years of age in Pleasanton or just a handful of lottery winners?? Looks like another parcel tax/slush fund on the making.


8 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 15, 2015 at 7:21 pm

WHAT!!!! I'm wondering if the Pleasanton school board members are also the same people on the Bart board of wonderful decision makers???? Just a thought. How about teaching "all" our kids to "walk" before they can run!! Get back to basics people, would this pre-school be available to every kid under 5 years of age in Pleasanton or just a handful of lottery winners?? Looks like another parcel tax/slush fund on the making.


16 people like this
Posted by PUSDparent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2015 at 6:14 pm

When my kids were little, we took them to the Children's Discovery Museum, the Academy of Science and the Lawrence Hall of Science to 'play' with blocks, water, air, technology etc...all while experiencing the very basics in science and math concepts. I always thought this is how preschool should be! Learning through play.

PUSD shows time and time again that it is not passing up opportunities to bring this kind of learning to our community- especially for kids whose parents may not be able to take them to the kinds of places I did with my children. ("guarantee subsidized slots for underserved children")

Stacking blocks, doing art, tumbling are all STEAM concepts. I found an example of STEAM curriculum from Boston - Web Link

It is great to see this kind of program being offered for families who choose this kind of preschool, that we actually have choices in our community to fit our diverse opinions about learning.


2 people like this
Posted by MC
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2015 at 9:18 am

It's STEM, not STEAM....
Great weblink provided in earlier post...


1 person likes this
Posted by Am I missing something?
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 20, 2015 at 9:46 am

Actually it was STEM but now it's STEAM - they added ART to the mix.


8 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Apr 20, 2015 at 12:33 pm

This is from the Independent:

"Once the pre-school begins operation, projected annual revenue would be $724,000; expenditures would total $682,000.

There would be a lower fee for children of lower income families. Some 12 slots out of the proposed 40 would be reserved for them.

Projected market-rate fee is $1300 per month, but no lower-level fee has been determined. By comparison, the monthly fee average of 10 full-time pre-schools in the Valley is $1280, says a staff report. The lowest fee is $960, the highest $1530."

So let's use their numbers and make some predictions:

$1300/month x 40 students x 12 months = $624,000

This is actually the most optimistic expectation that all 40 students pay $1300/month for 12 months. If the lower income students pay less, or if the school is less than all year, the total is even less.

Anyway, according to the article, expenditures will be $682,000/year. So who is paying the additional $58,000/year??? And where did they get the expectation of $724,000 in revenue per year? (I really want to say something about Common Core math here, but why bother)

I can already see new taxes to pay for 40 students in an unneeded program. If anything, the tuition should be set so it covers all school expenses.


2 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 20, 2015 at 1:05 pm

$1300/mo!!! Not even the 1%ers could afford that.


5 people like this
Posted by ?
a resident of Amador Estates
on Apr 20, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Yes, it is VERY important that we have even MORE government funds directed at schooling to manage the lives of our kids since schools have more "parental rights" than real parents do.

For example, we need to offer more government-funded Pre-School programs to teach these pre-schoolers all about the "wonders" of transexualism, anti-Americanism, the joys of Common Core indoctrination, etc. BTW: let's make sure Michelle O's delicious nutrition program is extended to these pre-schoolers too.

Utopia.


5 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2015 at 3:43 pm

They're coming to get you, question mark person! It is scary! Very funny.


2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Actually $1300 is the average rate for the premium preschool programs in the Tri valley, except when you compare Steam staff education requirements to say Quarry or Montessori, there's a huge discrepancy. I'm sure there are many qualified early childhood unit qualified teachers. But let's be honest if you are going to ask for the same tuition as other preschools that require teachers to have a minimum of their bachelors in education and offer extra curriculars such as dance and music on campus, they'll never reach their 40 student enrollment or projected revenue. PUSD really did not do their research between schedule offering, tuition rate and staff comparisons. Maybe this is why I only see 2 student playing outside the school...


4 people like this
Posted by Jtjh
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 1, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Am I Missing Something wrote:

"If they were planning a preschool for disadvantages kids or even a DI preschool for kids to learn English I would probably support that a lot more than another way for a few kids to try and get ahead. How about making sure everyone is ready for kindergarten."

I completely agree. Certainly, the state-of-the-art academic-sounding name indicates that the pre-school is marketing itself to the parents whose children already have every advantage. I hope that annual reports will be made public, stating exactly how many of the "reserved" places eventually go to children from low-income families. And the upper limit for the income to be classes as low. Otherwise, it's easy to envisage a situation where it will be claimed that there were too few applicants for these places and they were therefore allocated to others who could easily afford the fees.


9 people like this
Posted by More Political than Practical
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on May 1, 2016 at 9:08 pm

Sadly, this initiative appears to have been poorly thought out. Will the school district give an update on how many students were projected, versus how many are actually enrolled? Prior to funding, this program was pitched as being a vital and needed addition to local childcare by the district's childcare leader. Many raised a brow, wondering whether "STEAM" was the right focus for pre-school kids and also whether their lofty projections had a prayer of coming true. Now, as pointed out above, we see 1 or 2 kids playing outside. I heard a total enrollment number of 8! As a taxpayer, that smells of poor planning. Was STEAM pushed as a political agenda, at the expense of good decision making? Was there really a gap that needed to be satisfied, for childcare? Or was it a PET project from the board and administrators?

What does the income statement for the preschool on a fully loaded basis? If you allocate the overhead and startup costs to resurrect this failed site (three times failed) how poor of a decision was it? What's the next step? Maybe give subsidized childcare to PUSD district office staff to fill up the empty building?

Maybe the 8 kids enrolled could just sign up and join the dozen or so teens at the multi-million dollar "Culinary Academy" and we could fire the STEAM staff...? Sounds like "poor leadership" is on the menu.....


4 people like this
Posted by STEM- NOT "STEAM" Why not "STEAMBOAT?"
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2016 at 11:08 am

Our country needs more technical people, who can help use compete in the world, invent, research.

The whole idea of STEM is to help with that:
Science
Technology
Engineering
and Most important Math.

ARTS is nice, but not really a part of the technical slant that America needs.

For STEAMBOAT, adding an "A" for ART, why not the other letters?

B for BASKETWEAVING - a Traditional liberal arts course for non technical people.
Develops finger co-ordination, wastes time and resources

O for ORIGAMI - folding paper in artsy ways. Fits right in - make paper cranes, not real ones

A For Artsy Crafty This is a kindergarten, after all!

T For TRAGEDY, if the purpose of STEM is defeated or diluted.


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