News


2 with long history in Pleasanton school system join 2 incumbents in school board race

Grant bows out, opening 3 seats to be filled

Two candidates with a long history in the Pleasanton school system have joined the race for election to the school board on Nov. 8 where they will compete with two incumbents for the three seats on the board.

Retired Hart Middle School principal Steve Maher and former Pleasanton school board member Kathleen Ruegsegger, at one time an executive assistant to superintendents in both the Pleasanton and Palo Alto school districts, are seeking election to the board.

Board members Jamie Hintzke and Valerie Arkin declared their candidacies for re-election earlier. Board member Chris Grant plans to step down after serving nine-and-a-half years on the board.

Ruegsegger formally filed election papers with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' office on Monday. Maher was meeting with the registrar's office personnel Wednesday to complete the filing process.

Maher was Pleasanton's longest-serving principal when he retired and had both taught and served as principal at more schools than anyone else in the district - ever. During the six years since his retirement he has continued to serve as a interim-principal in four schools in the district.

He holds a Master's degree in Education and a teaching certificate from Cal State University. He taught at Fairlands, Alisal, Vintage Hills and Donlon elementary schools, and was principal at Vintage Hills for three years, Alisal for five years, Donlon for six, and at the new Pleasanton Middle School from 1996 to 1999, when he moved to Hart.

He also coached girls' varsity basketball and championship teams at Foothill High School for seven years. His wife Tina, also retired, was a senior administrator at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. They have three daughters. Lindsay and Kelly are teachers and Shay is a principal.

Ruegsegger moved to Pleasanton from Denver in 1985 and became immediately involved in activities at Walnut Grove Elementary School and Amador Valley High School, which her three children attended. She became co-chair of CASA (Community Against Substance Abuse), secretary of PLACE (Pleasanton Legislative Action Committee) and a member of the Walnut Grove school site council and president of the school's parent organization.

She also worked for unification, followed and lobbied regarding education legislation and for myriad fundraisers.

When school board president Earnestine Schneider died in August 1990, Ruegsegger was appointed to fill out the remaining 14 months of Mrs. Schneider's term and until 1993.

Ruegsegger said that as a school board member, she will be able to leverage her nearly 20 years of experience working as a staff member in K-12 education and her three previous years as a Pleasanton school board member.

She believes the district can maintain its current excellence by increasing its connection with the community's ambitions for its children. She supports transparency and specificity in district reporting and communications and will seek more collaboration between the city and district to find shared projects that maximize tax dollars while greatly benefiting Pleasanton residents.

She recently addressed the Pleasanton board pointing to the need for at least one new elementary school, noting their inclusion of 62 portable/relocatable structures as permanent classrooms.

"This is a pivotal time to serve as a trustee with a new superintendent and key staff members in order to expand the momentum of the past year," Ruegsegger said. "This is a role I can easily step into, and I have the time to dedicate to the shared expectations of the governance team."

She added: "There must be broader communication in order to maintain our status as a leader in K-12 education, bringing together students, teachers, and administrators with our entire community. The point where we reach for the next level of excellence, from curriculum to facilities, is while we are already at the top."

Ruegsegger's three adult children attended Pleasanton schools, and she currently has a grandchild in the district. Starting from her active involvement at Walnut Grove 30 years ago, her experience includes the three years on the PUSD board and 16 years' experience working in the Pleasanton and Palo Alto K-12 public schools.

In 1998, Ruegsegger was hired by the Pleasanton district as executive assistant to work with newly-hired superintendent Mary Frances Callan. Four years later, she left Pleasanton to take the same position in the Palo Alto school district when Callan accepted the offer to become superintendent of schools there.

Callan retired in August 2007, but Ruegsegger stayed on, retiring from the Palo Alto school district in October 2015.

During that time, she worked with five superintendents, their key staff experts and more than two dozen board members, all of whom provided a variety of perspectives.

Arkin, who was first elected to the school board in November 2008, is one of three school board members whose terms expire this year. With Grant leaving, only Jamie Hintzke also is seeking re-election.

"As a parent of three children who went through Pleasanton's public school system, and as a long-time school volunteer, I understand the need to keep parents completely informed about decisions that will affect their children and that are being conducted using taxpayer money," Arkin said.

"During my two terms on the board, I am very proud of the great progress that we have made in improving the communications conduit between the district and the community," she added. "It is still a work in progress, but I will always continue to lobby for greater advances in the arena of communication."

She said high academic achievement is her priority as a school board member.

Hintzke attended Pleasanton public schools in her youth as have her two children. She is employed by the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency as a community relations coordinator and also works as program manager for the Alameda County Emergency Medical Services CPR program for seventh-graders.

From 2009-12, she served on the Alameda County School Boards Association as the vice president of education. She has also served as a trustee on the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program board, the California State PTA Board of Managers, as president of the PTAs at Alisal Elementary and Harvest Park Middle schools and on the Pleasanton PTA Council.

Hintzke is currently president of the Pleasanton school board, a position she also held in 2014. While on the board, she has lobbied for greater district transparency, tight financial control, a higher level of executive staff accountability, increased public and student involvement in district decisions, intervention programs and improved methods to better serve the needs of all students.

She said her priorities include ensuring that students reach their greatest potential by providing learning that is innovative, irresistible, creative, relevant and rigorous.

Grant said he is leaving the board because his professional responsibilities at Kaiser Permanente where he works have increased each year over the past decade and also because he believes change on the school board is good.

He was board president twice during his tenure and served on multiple committees, including the Excellence in Education Committee, of which he was a founding member. He was first appointed to the board in 2007, then elected to the board in November 2008, and re-elected in 2012 as were Hintzke and Arkin.

Comments

48 people like this
Posted by Diane Lanning
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 17, 2016 at 9:27 am

Steve Maher has my vote! Best administrator ever. He loved the students at his schools and they loved him. Better yet, he had their respect. SO happy he's running. He's exactly what the school district needs.


27 people like this
Posted by watching
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Aug 17, 2016 at 9:39 am

I am thrilled with these two candidates. Hintzke needs to go.


43 people like this
Posted by Momma
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 9:40 am

I love Mr.Maher, what great news!!!!
He is so great with kids and parents and I thinking working in the district and in so many different roles and at different schools he really understands what Pleasanton schools need. This is so great!


28 people like this
Posted by Union stooge
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 9:47 am

Maher epitomizes the downfall of the Pleasanton Unified School District when it went from a decent school system to what it has become....teachers surfing the Internet in class with parents forced to send their kids to tutoring centers, now at least 2 per shopping center, to get some semblance of an education, while the union-protected teachers coast and refuse to teach and work behind the scenes to cause chaos, dysfunction, and drama. Now we have science "teachers" that at the middle school level have the students read and do Cornell notes of entire textbooks as busywork rather than teach. Whoever heard of any decent teacher requiring students to basically summarize page by page of textbooks in a stenography exercise rather than actually teach? Then there are the other science "teachers" that have kids color, recreate drawings in class, watch Pixar and Dreamworks animation and Disney movies at the elementary, middle school and high school level, while teachers monitor their Twitter and post on their Facebook accounts. And don't get me started on the decline of the math programs in Pleasanton.


34 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Parkside
on Aug 17, 2016 at 9:55 am

Stooge: Your comments appear to indicate you didn't have personal interaction with Mr. Maher...however, each to his own. Understand, the state school system and the unions are unfortunately major factors within which local administrators must navigate.


Mr. Maher is indeed a brilliant, accomplished administrator. He has an uncanny abilty to know virtually every student at his school by name, and show them kindness, caring and role modeling. He was loved by students and parents alike over the course of the almost 20 years we crossed paths. He will bring a wealth of experience and innovative thinking to the board who faces tremendous challenges from the State and from our fast growing student population.


13 people like this
Posted by Union stooge
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 10:02 am

Rose, you seem to be describing Jim Hansen not Steve Maher. Steve Maher does not have those characteristics you describe, but Jim Hansen does. Maher's tenures at permanent and interim principals in this District have been troubled. Union teachers come first in Maher's world but students come first in Hansen's world.


Posted by Kim
a resident of West of Foothill

on Aug 17, 2016 at 10:05 am


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17 people like this
Posted by Vinelander
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 17, 2016 at 10:23 am

Union stooge you are way off base. Steve Maher was a great teacher and administrator. We are lucky that he has chosen to run. It is a thankless job - as you posts show. Stooge you need to get a life and get off Town Square. Stooge - maybe you need to run for the board as you seem to have all of the answers.


22 people like this
Posted by HereWeGoAgain
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 10:30 am

HereWeGoAgain is a registered user.

Well I know Maher's last minute decision just cost us an expensive election when the money could be used for something important, like oh, maybe our students.


47 people like this
Posted by HereWeGoAgain
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 10:32 am

HereWeGoAgain is a registered user.

One other thing. Doesn't he have kids who are employees in this district? Won't that be a conflict of interest? What if he has to vote for something that the union or teachers don't like?

The district already has great union representation, I think Maher would have been more helpful running for union president.


13 people like this
Posted by D
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 17, 2016 at 12:38 pm

D is a registered user.

HereWeGoAgain,
Won't this be part of the November election? How is costing us anything extra?

(Even if it did, I'd be in favor. Steve Maher is worth it.)


19 people like this
Posted by D
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 17, 2016 at 12:49 pm

D is a registered user.

I wholeheartedly disagree with "Union stooge". My daughter had a *horrible* teacher at a school he was principle of. Steve Maher had her put on "mental health leave" immediately when presented with the documentation my daughter one other student had kept, and then fought for months to get her fired. She ended up coming back after a year. Not ideal, but at least it saved my daughter from having to be in her class. He was a pleasure to work with and incredibly supportive in a very difficult situation.

Regarding science teachers, they were outstanding during our tenure at his school which was near the end of Maher's career. Maybe they went downhill after that, but it wasn't his doing.


20 people like this
Posted by HereWeGoAgain
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 3:04 pm

HereWeGoAgain is a registered user.

There doesn't have to be an election if there are only the number running as there are seats. Costs us a bucket load to have an election.

I have heard since the last election that Steve was thinking of running. I don't know why he would wait til the very last minute to run.

I think Steve, while being a nice guy has some serious conflict of interests. I would have rather seen him as Union President.


23 people like this
Posted by HereWeGoAgain
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 3:06 pm

HereWeGoAgain is a registered user.

D it's great your daughter didn't have to put up with a bad teacher, but what about all the other kids that followed. Mental health leave is a great band aid but doesn't solve the problem.


17 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 4:46 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

I don't know why Steve waited until the last second to enter the race, but I heard two years ago he would run, so does it really matter if he filed today, last week, or last month?

Steve may have a conflict of interest, but so do others.[Removed because it contained inaccurate information] Jeff Bowser's wife works for the district, so he would always recuse himself from contract votes when they came up, even though the district legal advisors told him he did not have to. [Removed.] And all board members have or had kids in the district, that is a conflict of interest. Almost ANYONE who runs will have a conflict of interest, and actually I think that is good, in a way. That insures the member will care more and have a deeper vested interest in the district.

Steve is very well liked in Pleasanton, I believe he will be the top vote recipient in the election.


34 people like this
Posted by Bay Area Native
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 17, 2016 at 5:23 pm

Bay Area Native is a registered user.

Mr. Maher testified under penalty of perjury that he did not recall hiring Jon Vranesh and also did not recall giving Mr. Vranesh satisfactory performance reviews. I don't believe him.

As interim principal at WG he sided with the union and exacerbated the divide. I agree he is very well liked by many but there are also many with very strong negative opinions of Mr. Maher based on their personal interactions with him.

PUSD has come a long way in the past two years. When Mark Miller replaced Jeff Bowser the tone of board meetings changed dramatically.

We need trustees who will take the time to listen to all stakeholders. Mr. Maher dismisses opinions that conflict with his view while smiling and telling you he agrees with you. He always sides with APT regardless of what is best for students. Electing Mr. Maher would be a huge step backwards and a return to the divisiveness when Bowser was on the board.


15 people like this
Posted by HereWeGoAgain
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 6:00 pm

HereWeGoAgain is a registered user.

Never heard anyone ever say before that a they were more concerned about the financial welfare of a sibling than a spouse. What about a child on the PUSD payroll? Does a child rank higher than a spouse or sibling? The ranking system is new to me.

As for Bowser I think voters spoke loudly in the last election when he was the first incumbent in the history of Pleasanton not to be re-lected.

Seems to me Steve waited to see if he would be running against all incumbents before he decided to run. Wasn't very fair either that Grant waited til the last minute to say he wasn't looking to be re-elected.


3 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 6:40 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"Mr. Maher testified under penalty of perjury that he did not recall hiring Jon Vranesh and also did not recall giving Mr. Vranesh satisfactory performance reviews. I don't believe him."

So you think he's a perjurer?

"As interim principal at WG he sided with the union and exacerbated the divide. I agree he is very well liked by many but there are also many with very strong negative opinions of Mr. Maher based on their personal interactions with him."

No one from the Vranish situation is happy. Ask those who were parents during his time at Hart, you will find very few who will give him a negative review.

"Electing Mr. Maher would be a huge step backwards and a return to the divisiveness when Bowser was on the board."

I couldn't disagree with you more. Bowser and Hintzke had a lot of friction, so once one of them (Bowser) left, things got more peaceful. Maher is not a guy who causes much friction, he listens and is fairly soft-spoken. You may not like him or you may disagree with him, but adding him will not be a "huge step backwards."


4 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 6:47 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"Never heard anyone ever say before that a they were more concerned about the financial welfare of a sibling than a spouse. ... The ranking system is new to me."

It's my ranking system, not yours. You can rank anyhow you want. But the point is that Bowser [removed] and Maher all have or will have conflicts of interest. Hintzke never got the flak Bowser did, and either it should have been fine for both, or both should have had a conflict of interest. I think they rank equal, and I don't have a problem with Bowser having a wife on the payroll, [removed] Maher having a child (or three), or Arkin, Laursen, Grant or Miller having kids in the district. EVERYONE has a conflict of interest, let's not try to rank which ones are more significant than others.


2 people like this
Posted by D
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:17 am

D is a registered user.

HereWeGoAgain, there will not be a special election for school board. It will be just one more vote on an extensive ballot, since it's a general election year.

Steve Maher fought hard to get my daughter's teacher fired. If he had his way she would have been gone in a flash but unfortunately the district and it's lawyers have the power. I imagine they decided that the legal costs were not worth it since she was due to retire in just a few years. That's the beauty of tenure.


Like this comment
Posted by HereWeGoAgain
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2016 at 7:39 am

HereWeGoAgain is a registered user.

School board has to pay to be on the ballet. Call them and check if you don't believe me.


3 people like this
Posted by HereWeGoAgain
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2016 at 7:41 am

HereWeGoAgain is a registered user.

I think there is a huge difference between having a kid in the district and having a kid on the payroll but that's must my opinion.


4 people like this
Posted by HereWeGoAgain
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2016 at 7:43 am

HereWeGoAgain is a registered user.

If an administrator fights to get someone deservedly fired but they don't succeed does that make them an ineffective administrator?

And how do you know he was fighting to get someone fired? Because he told you? Seems to me issue should be private.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 18, 2016 at 8:35 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

D, you are correct that this is a general election. However, HWGA is also correct. Candidates pay for their ballot statement (about $1,800) to be printed, but the district pays for other election costs, just as they will for the bond election.


1 person likes this
Posted by SmartyP
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 18, 2016 at 10:07 am

SmartyP is a registered user.

Just the Facts-
I appreciate factual information but you need to verify some of the information you are posting. Board member Jaime Hinzke does not have a family member who works for PUSD. Conflict of interest is an absolutely an important factor when it exists. Please retract this erroneous information.


Like this comment
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

@ SmartyP:

At one of the meetings during Jeff Bowser's term, it came time to vote on the new contract for the APT, the teacher's union local in Pleasanton. He stated that he would be recusing himself from the vote because his wife was a teacher, even though the legal team for the district stated there was no reason he couldn't vote. He stated (and when I say he stated, I am paraphrasing, because this was years ago and I do not remember exactly word-for-word what he said) that he didn't feel he needed to recuse himself, especially because he wasn't the only one who had a relative working in the district, but that he would recuse himself nonetheless. This was clearly pointed at Hintzke, who I had come to learn at that time had a sibling working as a teacher in PUSD. Hintzke did not deny this, actually had no comment or reply.

Hintzke may no longer have a sibling working here, but it seems clear to me she did at that time. If this is false, Hintzke is welcome to post a reply here stating that, and I will be more than happy to apologize. But I am very much under the impression she had a sibling working in PUSD at that time, and she never recused herself. I do not have a problem with her not recusing herself, I don't feel Bowser needed to either.


Like this comment
Posted by Dark Father
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 18, 2016 at 6:35 pm

Dark Father is a registered user.

Jaime's brother, Roger Yee, was a teacher in the district. He taught at both Amador HS and Pleasanton Middle School. Jaime was on the board when Roger was working as a teacher for the district.

This is not to pass judgement or to comment on whether or not Jaime should have recused herself, merely to point out that GTF is not incorrect in claiming that there could have been a (perceived) conflict of interest.

Web Link

DF


10 people like this
Posted by Jamie Yee Hintzke
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 18, 2016 at 9:43 pm

Jamie Yee Hintzke is a registered user.

Perceived Conflict of Interest?

Bowser and I do or did not have a legal conflict of interest. However,
my brother used to work for PUSD - he was a temp and was never a permanent teacher. I did vote to lay him off in the spring of 2010. His wife worked at Amador and left PUSD last year. She was never active in the union.
The difference is Bowser's wife is active in the teacher union. She served on the executive board the entire time Bowser served on the school board. Bowser was in every closed session discussion about contract negotiations. I believe he always voted on the teacher contract but would make a disclaimer. His wife never sought a promotion during the his time on the board. One other big difference, is I do not share the same household, bank account or retirement fund with my bother or sister in law.
I have no relatives working in the PUSD.
If anyone would like to discuss this matter further, I happy to meet with you in person or you may phone me. My cell number is: 925 876 2380.


11 people like this
Posted by SmartyP
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:17 pm

SmartyP is a registered user.

I am paying careful attention to this election. PUSD has not been moving in the right direction for many years and the best possible candidates need to be re-elected/elected.

While Mr Maher Seems like a nice person, it is absolutely a conflict of interest for him to serve on the Board. Had he worked in another District it would be completely reasonable to expect him to make objective decisions, however, this is not the case.


1 person likes this
Posted by SmartyP
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:33 pm

SmartyP is a registered user.

Vine lander,
I'm concerned by your unkind remarks about posts by Union Stooge. While you may not agree with this poster, this forum is better when posts are respectful. If this site is not moderated well, it is not helpful as a forum for an exchange of ideas.


12 people like this
Posted by Working Parent
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 19, 2016 at 9:49 am

Working Parent is a registered user.

Hintzke and Arkin have my vote 100%. In my observations of their performance thus far they are always looking out for our students first. I personally had an issue I had to elevate to the Board as I couldn’t get it resolved at the lower level. They were prompt in their correspondence back to me and each of them met with me one-on-one to understand my concerns in more detail and help to get it resolved. That speaks millions on their dedication to the District and students that they took time out of their busy personal schedules to meet with me given the very large number of students (and issues) in our district.

For our two new candidates who I do not know but appear very qualified, this is what I am looking for:

Prove to me you will put students first as your background and ties make me suspect where your loyalty stands. Being nice and friendly is good, but I need someone strong that will go to battle for our students if necessary. In my mind the Board’s role is to provide balance to the PUSD Unions which are too strong. While 95% of our teachers and staff are a true blessing to our District, the Unions also protect the 5% “bad apples”. As a parent who has experienced firsthand the impact to my child due to a poor teacher, I want a Board member who will stand up for our children who don’t have power. I also want you to represent PUSD and spend within your means and push back on nice-to-have projects or large raises/benefits we can’t afford.

Good luck to all of the candidates and thank you Mr Grant for your service.


7 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 19, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Working Parent, as I've stated before, feel free to contact me. kruegs@mac.com or 925.461.9198 I have commented out here for a long time. Most recently I spoke at board meetings to get the new elementary school included in the bond, so I definitely want what is best for the community's children. I also want to be sure you understand that my district position was one of the few deemed to be non-represented. But I am pro-teacher too and agree that we can attract, retain, and deserve the best teachers the Bay Area has to offer. The learning experience has two key components, students and their teachers. We are failing if we aren't using our resources to support their success.


15 people like this
Posted by Jake Waters
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 20, 2016 at 11:47 am

Jake Waters is a registered user.

I am a Maher fan. He has shown great compassion for the kids and I respect him immensely.


Like this comment
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Two points of clarification on Jamie Hintzke's post (up six posts from this one):

Bowser's wife was not "on the executive board the entire time Bowser served on the school board". At the end, and I believe at the beginning, she was not on the executive board. But she was most of his four years, so I don't want to split hairs, Hintzke's point is basically true.

"I believe he always voted on the teacher contract but would make a disclaimer." This is not correct, as I sat in a meeting where he recused himself, just as I stated above, I won't repeat the whole circumstance. He may have done it more than just that one time, but I can only confirm once.

"The difference is Bowser's wife is active in the teacher union." Board President Hintzke, I have to disagree with you on this. If the union members were to get a raise, for example, all teachers (even if they opt out of the union) will get a raise. Spouses, brothers, sisters-in-law, all will benefit, whether they are "active" in the union or not. The only difference is the "active" union people give a little - or a lot - of their time, and they certainly don't get paid for it (except the president who is on full-time release).


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

Couples: Drop Your Keyboard!
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 5,285 views

 

Nominations due by Sept. 17

Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com are once again putting out a call for nominations and sponsorships for the annual Tri-Valley Heroes awards - our salute to the community members dedicated to bettering the Tri-Valley and the lives of its residents.

Nomination form