News


Proposed $5.8-million culinary center at Village High tied to school district bond measure

Construction wouldn't start until after November vote

Hopeful that a proposed bond measure will gain voter approval, the Pleasanton school board agreed Tuesday to commit $3.4 million of the new bond toward paying for a multi-purpose building at Village High School for district-wide culinary classes.

The board decided the building will be funded initially from the district's Sycamore Fund, which is fueled from the past purchase of district property. If a bond is successfully passed, the district will use bond money to reimburse that fund.

The multi-purpose building is expected to cost $5.8 million with the state chipping in $2.4 million of that total.

However, no construction will start until after November -- when a bond measure could conceivably be up for a district-wide vote.

Micaela Ochoa, deputy superintendent of business services, said the board will have to schedule a separate vote if a bond measure fails to win voter support and if it still wants to pursue the project.

All of Tuesday night's votes were 4-0, with Chris Grant absent since he was with his family because his father-in-law passed away earlier this week.

In other school news:

-Earlier in the school board meeting, teachers and school employees cheered when Harvest Park administrative secretary Pauline Schroeder was honored as the 2016 classified employee of the year.

Schroeder has been a district employee for more than 20 years, and she's held her job at Harvest Park since 2007.

"Pauline is an extremely hard worker with a very positive attitude," interim superintendent Jim Hansen said. "She is the glue that holds the school together."

-The board also heard an overview of the district's second interim 2015-16 budget, which is part of the typical process used to update a school district budget. The major highlights of the budget were an increase of about $1.6 million in district revenue and an increase of about $1.3 million in expenditures.

The increase in revenue was partially due to donations, and the increase in expenditures was partially due to an increase in the district's required contribution to employee retirement funds, per a statewide mandate.

Overall, the district is projected to end the 2015-16 school year with about $16.7 million, and about $7.7 million of that is undesignated.

The budget update included a projected ending balance of $15.4 million for 2016-17 and $15.2 million for 2017-18.

Comments

5 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Mar 9, 2016 at 12:20 pm

We would have to look at the money carefully, but it's hard to argue with education paths directed at trades. Quite a few of the kids at Village are pretty bright. I'd aim them more for electrician, auto, bookkeeping. Restaurant life is rough. Really rough.


Like this comment
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 10, 2016 at 9:13 am

The consulting group is already calling on the bond measure and how to get it approved.

They want $33 dollars for every $100,000 your home is worth. It more like an additional property tax on the rich. The guy said Pleasanton hasn't had a school bond since 1997


5 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 10, 2016 at 9:28 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Whatever amount they are asking is $xx of *assessed value,* which is not the same as market price (or what "your home is worth"). And yes, it's been nearly twenty years.


12 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Mar 10, 2016 at 9:29 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

$3.4m for a big kitchen?

I don't think so.

Dan


8 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 10, 2016 at 9:32 am

Kathleen,

The point is that is too much money in this economy and that they were trying to figure out what words to use to "sell" the bond measure rather than a business case that is logical for the money. More political slight of hand.


3 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 10, 2016 at 9:34 am

The only thing good in it is that it would exclude seniors, retirees, and handicapped.


21 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Mar 10, 2016 at 9:53 am

My son was a graduate of Village, and the catering program was a path to goals, and engaging in the real world. This is an excellent program. A small program like Village can't add all worthy vocations, but I'd like to see this funded.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 10, 2016 at 10:00 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pete, bonds do not provide exemptions. Bonds, in this case, are a property tax for school facility construction. Parcel taxes (not used for facilities) can provide exemptions to seniors and the disabled (not retirees that I'm aware of, unless you are a senior), but this is not a parcel tax.


6 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 10, 2016 at 10:10 am

They should figure out exactly what they need and come to us rather than figure out how much money they can get and how to sell it and then figure out how to spend it. Ridiculous.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 10, 2016 at 10:28 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

They have a facilities master plan: Web Link There is a wish list of needs/wants that totals about $500 million. You can review it to see what they were thinking about three years ago. If they run a bond, assuming there is enough support, there will be a list of projects they will tackle.


20 people like this
Posted by Negeligence & Misconduct
a resident of Amador Estates
on Mar 10, 2016 at 10:32 am

Our arrogant school board is at it again and they want you to pay for it. Due to mis-management they have to a
Give back ~$2m back to the state because of an failed audit. Now they are asking you to pay for it.

Let's run the list

Board hies an interim supt, deputy supt, and Asst supt HR without job experience and pays them the same as the experienced people who left.

Give teachers, support staff and management a 3.4% raise

Hide a big raise in addition to 3% to top managment as a payback for support

Board lays off 40+ teachers to pay for raises and pension increases slashing programs for students

Did you know that PUSD has over $150m in unpaid pension liability? Due to their mismanagement the state is forcing PUSD to increase their pension contribution from 10% to over 19% for all of their employees. That is adds $10M to the annual budget. Where will this money come from?

Way to go school board: teacher layoffs to pay for pensions and pay raises

The board has also hidden the real reason for the bond: COPs sold in ~2002 @ ~$17m to pay a school they never built : Niel Elementary near Ruby Hill. Rather than build the school they sued the developer, lost and had to pay the developer's $3m legal fees. COP debt is looming. Board be transparent and honest: the bond will go to pay for current debt, not new programs.

The board also collects developer fees above the state maximum not to house the new students but to pay the COP debt.

The bond funds will never reach the schools.

Not to mention that the union president Janice Clark is running off principals to settle personal grudges.

Keep your tax dollars in your pocket.


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 10, 2016 at 10:55 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

N&M, You make some good points, and some of your points are completely off base.

1. The state has increased contributions for *all* districts for both STRS and PERS. I would have to look into the unpaid liability you are talking about, which is different than the pension plan increases.

2. What deputy superintendent? The superintendent turns out to be the best pick to be an interim. The HR person has experience in HR and it's with our district.

3. We can't say we want the best and then not pay for them (and I have strong feelings too about those who don't deserve a raise). What raise was hidden?

4. Layoffs, sadly, are an awful annual ritual. Once the budget settles (and that involves the state), many and sometimes all are rehired.

5. Bonds cannot pay for programs; only facilities.

While I have my concerns and have actually talked to the district staff and board members, how long do we punish current administrators for the "sins of the previous." Until the schools fall down? If we want accountability, its going to take holding the governance team accountable and by speaking up other than anonymously on the PW.




4 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2016 at 11:12 am

What would a worthy, measurable and open enrollment culinary school create...? How about, first aid, health benefits, cleanliness(food borne,appliances etc), manners, how to survive, handling money, relationships/thinking, surviving w/o technology, finding work, starting over after failure, faith, time management, laws, car/home repair through fellowship, hospitality...and of course...cooking for all occasions with confidence to meet those needs for family and friends...for ever.


11 people like this
Posted by rrr
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 10, 2016 at 1:04 pm

The $500MM facilities plan is a wish list done with the instructions "if money were no object, what would you want." Well people, money is an object. That study was poorly run and there are no metrics on the roi on any of the improvements or even what the gains will be to our students.

The culinary expansion at Village was something that was contemplated since previous high school improvements went to foothill and amador and the village staff said they should get something also. This is essentially a new multi-purpose room but they are selling it by calling that a culinary center. I think we should be doing more with the ROP program and/or Las Positas which is nearby, or order to build some trade skills for our students who have other plans than a 4 year college. As great as the village culinary program is, I think we would be better off building a tech center than a new culinary center and train our students in the tech world. We are putting all our eggs in one basket with the culinary program. We should be expanding that to other things instead of focusing on a single program.

As for us not having a bond for some time, that is not correct. The school board approved a bond without an election by doing some cash buyouts which were essentially issuing new bonds without approval. Not to mention the COPs, as mentioned previously, for the neal school and the day care center at the district office.

While I agree that we cannot keep punishing our district due to previous incompetence, the new administration should be redoing a bond survey that is realistic and useful, instead of using the flawed previous plan.


8 people like this
Posted by working parent
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Mar 10, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Totally agree with the comments. PUSD really messed up in the past with the last bond, but that was a long time ago. I am open to support our schools, but the problem is they haven't proven fiscal responsibility.

Sorry, if hypothetically I gave my kid some money and he blew it.I wouldn't give him a bunch more money. If he really needed some,I would give my kid a small amount first, which he can spend on his most critical items. If he does that job well, I will give him more at a later date after he has proven himself.

Secondly, I don't have a boat load of cash sitting around so the schools can spend it on whatever wish list item they want. I would love to own a brand new BMW but I drive a 10 year old Toyota. The school needs to narrow their scope to the top items only. Ever heard of the golden goose story?

I answered the phone survey yesterday. Pretty weak unfortunately and didn't get to the real issues people are having with the bond. They did ask me to rank my support on certain issues, but the items were extremely broad categories with lots of generalities (and didn't mention a kitchen). All it take is someone to disagree on funding one of the items and they won't vote for the bond. They also mentioned "none of the money would go to administrators.." Hmmm..didn't mention teachers & staff at all.

Specific to the kitchen, I also support helping the trades, but it shouldn't be just Pleasanton, but a joint effort with the neighboring districts as well. Why do we have to fund 100% of it. Also agree that we should focus on trades that people can actually make a living at. Catering support is very low paying, I would prefer we focus on higher paying employment opportunities. What about a joint sponsorship with some High Tech companies to split the costs instead?


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 10, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

They won't be asking for $500 million. And the list is a wish list. They will, and should, be very careful and very specific of what they present for a vote.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 10, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I should add, bonds cannot be used for compensation for administrators, teachers, or classified staff. The only thing they can do related to personnel is to hire a Bond Manager who mainly oversees construction and can be who works directly with the oversight committee (at least that's what I've seen elsewhere).


7 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 10, 2016 at 3:09 pm

I have said it before and will say it again that I will not vote yes on anything until I see a 5 years cost reduction plan tied to numeric and repeatable kpi's and not until I see an itemized list of project listed as A rank got to have for safety and competitiveness and B rank others. This landscaping and soft scaling listed is nonsense. Do the people in the district realize that it is common rift now to get zero in terms of a pay increase in the private sector? We have basically a dead economy with two full quarters of zero growth?


7 people like this
Posted by Kim
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 10, 2016 at 3:42 pm

It's been 20 years since the last bond but we are still paying for that one. About $24 for every 100,000 in assessed value. The new bond will be on top of that.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 10, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pete, I would be interested in how *you* would reduce the budget without hurting students. I am not saying it can't be done, but you are making demands without offering suggestions. I agree there should be a definitive list of projects of must haves/nice to have. I would like to see your data on the "dead economy". Unemployment is at 3.3%, enviable compared to counties in the rest of California and other states. Web Link I wouldn't use this as an argument to spend money; just interested in your source.


14 people like this
Posted by Zenmonkman
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Zenmonkman is a registered user.

Okay ... let's assume you want more trade in schools. I get that. But, culinary is close to worthless from a career standpoint. It's sexy, I get that. It's fun to think of fine dining, and of course, making your "foodie" lifestyle a profession.

Every single documentary I've ever seen on this subject, and let's say I've seen more than my fair share, the chef's are saying, "I don't see my kids, I work all day and night, my business subsists on selling paired wines ...., etc". This is NOT a career or even a trade.

Let's put our thinking cap on and maybe offer C++ programming, Java Script, Artificial Intelligence programming, robotics ... tech is going to be where the dough is at and where the jobs are growing ... Food???? Come on Folks!


7 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 10, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Kathleen,

With all due respect. I wrote an entire cost reduction plan on here weeks ago from everything from capital, to shared services, to ISf to benefits reductions to zero based budgeting and not going to do it again. My sourced is the CBO who just released the results of the 3 and 4th quarters which were restated to show almost no economic growth. We have 96,000,000 people not in the workforce which is an all time high and higher as a percent of population.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 10, 2016 at 4:51 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Thanks Pete, I happy to look for that post. As for the CBO, California is different and I gave you a link to how unemployment, here, currently is relatively low. Not to diminish those who are seeking a job and can't find employment or even those who are underemployed.


18 people like this
Posted by Glorified Home Economics Gone Wild
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2016 at 4:54 pm

If students want to go to a post-secondary "culinary school," they can do that. There are plenty of for-profit schools that specialize in that, but most get poor reviews because the kids end up in poor paying minimum wage jobs as cooks and hostesses in the low paying food service field.

In the meanwhile, the delusional school district believes that they can have a "culinary school" be a pathway for student success as television chefs on the food network cable tv station. However, what it is in reality is a glorified "home economics" curriculum which went out of fashion in the 1960s.

Spending taxpayer dollars (that the school board doesn't even have yet because no recent bond has been passed) on a "culinary school" at the K-12 level is a poor decision.

And the price tag is outrageous. What are they planning to do? Hold televised Iron Chef competitions at the location at Village High?

I'll be voting no on any bond put forth by PUSD. Also, to prepare the kids for the future, the last thing we need is to go back in time and spend resources on bringing back "home economics" in the school curriculum.

It's not the 1950s folks.


5 people like this
Posted by Are you kidding?
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 10, 2016 at 7:43 pm

Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


2 people like this
Posted by increase
a resident of Rosewood
on Mar 10, 2016 at 8:35 pm

Increase the property tax will result less home buyer which lowers our home value.
Yes, the bond can not use to pay pension...But I have a question here, if there's no money to spent at all? I assume there will be some money but not enough. Will the insufficient money which originally should allocate to these project goes to pension.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 10, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I am fairly certain you will not lower your home value because buyers value good schools. Bonds can only be used for facilities. Either a vote by Pleasanton citizen passes the bond and we build/improve facilities or it does not pass and the district can do nothing. There is no money if a bond doesn't pass.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 10, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

So to put this to numbers, if the bond asks for $50 per $100,000 of assessed value, and the assessed value of your home is $500,000 (not the market value or what you would sell the home for), you would pay $250 annually for school facilities to be built or improved. None of that $250 can be used for compensation or pensions.


8 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Mar 10, 2016 at 10:14 pm

There are no $500k homes in Pleasanton. With all of the additional taxes and fees tacked on every year and to give another $500 to the school district? I want to know exactly where that money is going, every single penny. I'm not willing to give the district a blank check. $5.8 million for a culinary center when teachers are getting layed off and my kids middle school classes have 34 kids? Nope.


5 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 10, 2016 at 10:37 pm

Kathleen et al,

Come back with facts and things we really need. A wish list is just that a wish list. No logical person based on the past history of this district will vote yes.

Let me ask you this question. Kathleen you have a lot of things around your house to fix Give me $10,000 and I will tell you what I will spend the money on later. You want to sign up for that? .....neither do we.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 11, 2016 at 9:00 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

If you recall the parcel tax questions, I asked for specifics. Didn't get them. Voted no. So, even I would not support a bond without specific projects: upgraded science labs middle through high schools; Amador gym; etc. I feel opening the schools to the community (not just parents) with specific projects listed and problem areas made visible to educate the community on the needs would have been a better first step. It might be a good second step.

I am one person, and while I know board members and staff read these blogs, they do not know if you are one person or many people. And that's fine, but if the governance team doesn't hear from you directly (email, call, stand up at a meeting), there is a fair chance not all of them are listening. So I'm asking for people, pro or con, to speak up beyond the PW.

Eric, $500,000 was just an example. A bond cannot pay for teachers. Class size reduction, a very expensive program, is probably never going to reach beyond third grade under the best of circumstances (and a few high school subjects).


4 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Mar 11, 2016 at 9:33 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

Here's another question: How on earth can a glorified kitchen cost $3.4m?

Take a look at Zillow and see what $3.4m can buy in terms of structure.

If I've said it once, I've said it 1000x: government (city/state/fed) cannot properly negotiate nor spend our money efficiently. They are just not competent enough to do it and save the taxpayer.

This was driven home 10 years ago when I saw the costs of the (then new) restrooms at Lions Wayside Park. If I remember correctly it cost between $350-500k, maybe more?

The process as best I can tell - and someone can correct me - is that they have a public budget for the project, then they call out for bids and the lowest one wins against that budget. Why on earth would anyone looking to build a project first tell someone how much they have to spend on it, especially if you are a public entity?
Give them the plans, let them bid, check their costing against market costs, make adjustments accordingly and renegotiate.

Come back at them again and again until you get the lowest cost possible. Simple!

Bottom-line: our elected and appointed officials have no business (or apparently experience) in negotiating anything, and in the end we all pay more than we should.





3 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Transplant
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 11, 2016 at 9:45 am

Pleasanton Transplant is a registered user.

I will vote for a bond measure to update the infastructure in our schools. The schools need a good facelift and both high schools are in desperate need of updated gymnasiums. It is embarrassing.

My children have graduated from PUSD, but I know the value of having great schools. I want to keep Pleasanton a fantastic town and by keeping our schools great will do just that. It will take some investment from the community.

I am tired of the complaining - if unhappy with how the school district is being run, I encourage people to go to the school board meetings, voice your opinions, ideas and suggestions. I have been to the meetings and usually there are only a few people in the audience. Better yet, throw your hat into the race for school board member. Unless you are trying to change what you feel are injustices within the school board, you have no right to bitch and moan. DO SOMETHING. Invest your time.

That is all....


4 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 11, 2016 at 9:52 am

res1 is a registered user.

The district has the whole bond and parcel tax backwards.

They ask the public through surveys how much money the taxpayer is willing to give to the district. Then they have a measure for that amount.

They should be prioritizing projects where they can demonstrate the value of them. Then have a bond measure for that amount. Tell us how much you need to be world-class. I would rather pay more for projects I believe in and will enhance our education than approve a lower amount knowing the money is not going to good use (i.e., we just want more of your money).

On the 'culinary center' it looks like the board already approved it and took money from the facilities fund (sycamore fund) which they 'could' reimburse if a bond passed. First, not sure on the legality of issuing a bond for past projects. Being they approved the taking of $3.4M, The culinary center/Village MP room would not be near the top of my list of capital projects. This was a bad decision of the board. The Village culinary program is less of a culinary school than a responsibility training. Teaching kids how to be responsible in a job and teamwork is great but this training is not going to make a student a chef. A tech training center would be a MUCH better investment in our student's future. This decision gives me less confidence that giving the district more money in a bond would be a good investment. I had high hopes that things were going to get better quickly from our past bad administration.


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