Youth-driven, anti-vaping campaign backed by Pleasanton school board

Also: Private tutoring policy, Measure I1 bond sales, district energy audit

The Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday night that aims to snuff out flavored tobacco and e-cigarette use among students.

The resolution was presented by a group of local youth and asked the trustees to "call on our entire Pleasanton community to join in support of ensuring student health by refraining from the marketing and sales of tobacco, flavored tobacco and vaping products to young people throughout the city of Pleasanton."

It also encourages to "take all practical and necessary steps to discourage students from smoking including forbidding the use of tobacco products and vaping devices on campuses ... by providing student education and family information on the dangers of tobacco and vaping use."

Pleasanton is the latest Tri-Valley community to try to stem youth vaping.

Livermore recently passed a city ordinance to ban the sale of flavored tobacco, restrict vaping paraphernalia sales and implement a city tobacco retailer license program. That ordinance is now being challenged by Bay Area e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL Labs, which collected enough signatures for a referendum petition trying to overturn the Livermore City Council's decision.

In April, PUSD staff reported that early intervention programs for some students caught vaping have experienced some success. None who completed the family workshop for tobacco, alcohol or drug offenses during the 2018-19 school year had reoffended for vaping. Reduced suspensions have also been attributed to the workshop.

The district has increased tobacco and vaping education at campuses as well over the past year.

Megan Sloan, a student board representative, said during the discussion Tuesday that "there's always talk on campus" about vaping and that it even happens in local middle schools. "It's really demoralizing when you feel like people aren't making choices that are good for themselves," Sloan said.

One reason some students are taking up vaping, according to Sloan, is to manage anxiety and stress.

"Everything is connected," she said. "Kids are numbing, that's what it is. Kids are numbing because they're stressed ... and I think that's hard to look at, in addition to the fact that they're actually using."

The board roundly supported the resolution.

Trustee Joan Laursen stated she was "happy to support this resolution as a positive step in this effort, but also encourage us to continue working with the city to either strengthen enforcement and actions against businesses selling to our students or talking about whether this is something we want to ban, the sale in our cities (of flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes)."

In other business

* Near the beginning of the meeting, Trustee Steve Maher asked to pull and review a consent agenda item concerning teachers tutoring students outside of class.

The policy, one of multiple PUSD policies and regulations currently undergoing review and revisal by the district human resources department, bars teachers from privately tutoring their own students for payment.

Julio Hernandez, assistant superintendent of human resources, said the policy is meant to avoid conflicts of interest and "ensure district resources, public resources are not being used for personal gain" by teachers or local private tutoring businesses that hire them.

Teachers are not prohibited from tutoring for payment outside the district and may offer their services through private businesses, but with limits.

According to district documents, "teachers may not accept any kind of remuneration for tutoring a student enrolled in any of their classes or directly receiving services by the employee as part of their assignment in the current/upcoming school year or at any time during the previous six months."

The policy also stipulates teachers "must perform this service outside of school facilities and make their own arrangements with parents/guardians for the fees to be charged" and that they "may not use any Pleasanton Unified School District generated materials, assessments or student information as a part of their tutoring enterprise."

The board voted unanimously to pass the recommended policy.

* Pleasanton students presented their research and recommendations to the board about energy use at all 15 PUSD campuses.

During summer, 32 high school and college interns from the local nonprofit Go Green Initiative used energy benchmarking tools from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and PG&E to examine energy use for every PUSD school and facility site. The entire 106-page report was summarized in a presentation containing data on nine specific findings.

All PUSD schools are eligible for Energy Star certification, and three of them -- Hearst, Lydiksen and Walnut Grove elementary schools -- had perfect scores. Students urged the district that evening to pursue the certification, noting that Dublin Unified School District has already done the same for most of their campuses.

However, the interns also found 96-year-old Amador Valley High School to be the least energy-efficient campus, which led to them "recommend installing an energy management system for each school and hiring a sustainability director for the whole district to reduce energy usage and costs" by using the savings from any energy efficient upgrades that are added.

They also suggested conducting an energy audit of Village High School and the district administrative headquarters in addition creating site-specific goals for the short term to avoid oversight of any school. Their final recommendation was to have PUSD move toward using 100% renewable energy.

* An update on the second round of Measure I1 bond sales was also heard Tuesday; last week the district sold most of its scheduled $90 million in general obligation bonds within several hours, according to district officials, who partly attributed the district's strong credit rating and high property assessment values to a "very favorable bond market" recently.

According to PUSD documents, "geopolitical tensions and economic worries within the past year led investors to seek the safety of U.S. treasuries and municipal bonds."

Taxpayers have been treated favorably by economic conditions so far: the bonds "ultimately achieved a very low all-inclusive interest cost of 2.64%, and a net payment ratio of 1.37 to 1," which, according to the district, is "far below the legislative cap of 4 to 1."

With two other school bond measures set to expire in the next year or so, the district is currently in the process of surveying residents about a potential new $120 million school facilities bond measure that would sustain the current tax rate. Polling started last week and ends Sept. 6.

* The board ratified the appointment of Kathleen Townsend as the new vice principal at Fairlands Elementary at the start of the meeting. Townsend, who previously taught kindergarten at Donlon Elementary, is taking the place of Heidi Deeringhoff, according to the district.

Last month, Deeringhoff was named the successor to former Fairlands principal Shay Galletti, who moved into the role of district director of elementary education earlier this year. Townsend starts her new job next week.

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4 people like this
Posted by Josh
a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 28, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Ban E- cigarettes is a bad idea, I use them and I am 47 years old, the shop I go to never sold to under age and they have signs al over the window regarding the age which is 21 and over, these kids are buying these products online, it is so easy to purchase them from any web site. I will fight the city if they are going to ban them

Like this comment
Posted by Anjulee Lowery
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Aug 28, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Vapes should only be sold to adults . They to me have been proven better then smoking my friend had Ă  lung xray done by a none vape believing Dr. Then ayear later same Dr did a follow up x-ray he told her that her lungs had improved 100 percent from last year. After watching my husband for for 4, ugly years don't bad adult Vapes and parents be parents don't leave them laying around.

2 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 28, 2019 at 7:40 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

Too bad there wasn't a "youth driven" anti marijuana campaign. Vaping/e-cigarettes is the least of their worries.

1 person likes this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 30, 2019 at 2:48 pm

Nice to see them pass the tutoring resolution. That was a major ethics problem that I was surprised wasn't prohibited at a state level. Common sense.

Funny how times have changed. Amador used to restrict smoking by telling kids to go stand in the painted square by the theater to smoke. That blew my mind even then.

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