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Original post made by Al Cohen, Del Prado, on Jan 26, 2009

SHARED SACRIFICE has to be the common thread in any solution to the PUSD budget crisis. At the recent Budget Advisory Meeting, I proposed that all parties be involved in SHARED SACRIFICE for the good of our education system. It was met with a positive response. The major constituents at the meeting felt that all issues were on the table to solve the crisis. There were no sacred cows.

In industry during a down business cycle, a strategic organization looks at the type of company they want to end up with. Once that has been agreed upon, the stakeholders need to determine what sacrifices need to be made. Invariably there is pain, but the pain is shared by the people who have a passion to deliver a quality product and ultimately build a better organization.

In the case of our PUSD crisis, the stakeholders are the district, the union employees and the community at large. I believe that the only tenable solution to this massive problem is for each constituency to share in the pain to ultimately solve the problem. The administration has to do more with less. The union employees need to understand that perhaps taking a reduction in their salary will enable some of their colleagues to continue to work and still deliver a quality education. The community has to realize that the prior two constituents cannot solve the fiscal problem alone. We need to step up and realize that the quality of life that we have in Pleasanton is very closely connected to our safe neighborhoods, active sports programs, academic excellence and overall concerned citizenship. These are in large part due to our great school system.

As someone who dislikes paying taxes as much as anyone, I cannot see how we can avoid some sort of parcel tax. One that is focused and limited to solve the critical programs that we would otherwise loose in this down business cycle.

SHARED SACRIFICE is a plan that we should all get behind. I invite all of the usual naysayers in the blogosphere to come out from behind their computer screens and participate in the process. Several community forums are scheduled as well as School Board meetings and it is time to really engage in a meaningful manner.

Comments (20)

Posted by ?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2009 at 9:39 am

My oldest daughter is about to start school next year. I want to be fully involved in everything, so how can I help? What exactly are you suggesting I (or we) do? Can you be alittle more specific on what the communitys' role is in this plan?

Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 26, 2009 at 9:45 am

He's talking about getting the community to pass a parcel tax. I'm not a fan of parcel taxes, but I recommend that PUSD consider structuring it in such a way that it expires after the resumption of certain previous funding levels or 4 years time if possible. They should also look at taxation based upon square footage, such as some other districts have, like Mountain View.

Posted by John Adams
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2009 at 11:04 am

I hope PUSD budget advisory meetings have changed, but I sincerely doubt it. The meetings I have attended were completely and tightly controlled by district staff. The community constituency was obviously there only to put a false stamp of community approval on decisions which had already been made.

The pain in the economy is going to get worse. A lot worse. It's not a good time to ask people for money. NO MORE TAXES!!

Posted by Parent
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 26, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Sometimes others speak for us all...

"Stacey - you are the most prolific poster on any board in the history of the internet. And you are dead wrong with many if not most of your "facts". When others post their opinions, it is repeating propaganda in your mind. Don't you think it is time to grow up? By the shear number of times you have posted your opinion, it appears you are trying to drown out everyone else's. You are the real propaganda machine!!

I respect you have an opinion that we should not pass a parcel tax. That is clear from all the gibberish posted and name calling that you have done. (Like calling all public servants pigs, in the other thread.)I think we all know your opinion by now.

Many intelligent, critical thinkers, who are not into propaganda, disagree with you for very good reasons. The fact that their opinions are not yours does not make their opinions any less valid."

Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 26, 2009 at 12:24 pm


Why don't you paste the rest of the conversation?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, 2 hours ago

I have NOT called public servants "pigs". You, sir, display yet again your poor reading comprehension by trying to put words into my mouth, just like you misread someone else's post earlier and attributed it to me. In fact, you're the one who has been throwing insult at me after insult, suggesting my kids shouldn't receive an education and I have refrained until now from addressing your rudeness.

Yes, it is propaganda she's repeating. The evidence Laura Foster is repeating comes from some PUSD publication that two other posters here have also cited. You insult me when I point out the logical fallacy of that propaganda. And then you have the nerve to suggest that I need to grow up. I don't care if you don't agree with me, but have a respect for facts. And keep the insults to yourself.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, 2 hours ago

"Many intelligent, critical thinkers, who are not into propaganda, disagree with you for very good reasons."

Better yet, here's a challenge. You claim to be thinking critically on this matter, yet you have not written ANY rational, logical, or research based argument for why anyone should support a parcel tax. Put your money where your mouth is and produce such an argument, insult free. Don't just CLAIM there's very good reasons. State them.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jan 26, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Raising top-notch students begins at home. It requires firm commitments from the parents to ensure that their children are on top of their schoolwork, getting help when necessary, and providing adequate guidance on their educational endeavors. Throwing more money at PUSD or the schools will NOT accomplish that goal.

I've researched other school districts in the Bay Area and found that districts with more money do not produce better schools (or smarter students). Demographics seem to play a more important role. I can post some numbers here but it's probably easier if you were to explore them for yourself, as they're readily available at many websites (e.g.

If every parent makes a commitment to devote a few hours each day to oversee their children with their schoolwork, this district will remain one of the top districts in the Bay Area, with or without a parcel tax. Just my 2 cents...

Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 26, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Parent from Stoneridge,

"I can post some numbers here but it's probably easier if you were to explore them for yourself"

I recommend you give a summary of some of those numbers in addition to the website link. It will help reinforce your point.

Posted by sick of Stacey
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 26, 2009 at 10:48 pm

HAAA! I completely agree with Parent above. Stacey, it's time to get a hobby that doesn't involve monopolizing blogs. It's gotten obnoxious. We know what you think. STOP posting on here!

Posted by Ann
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2009 at 11:34 pm

I value Stacey's input on this subject, she does her research and makes fact based comments.

Posted by Tim
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Jan 26, 2009 at 11:38 pm

What is the shared sacrifice? John Casey has stated he will not consider backing out his raise. The unions say they won't give up anything. But we are expected to keep paying more?
No Parcel Tax!

Posted by no disconnect
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 1:51 am

Went out to Amador tonight to hear what the school officials are having to say because I did not want to be guilty of contributing to the "disconnect to reality" that Casey accused many posting here. There was a 4 page green handout that started off by breaking down the components of the $8.7M expected deficit. Was kind of surprised to see that $2M of that is what Casey referred to as "Step & Column" increases based on experience and education-not raises he said. Guess that means we have older and better trained teachers every single year if that number only goes up.
Rest of page 1 and 2 summarize the same info the district already put out but less detail. Part I don't remember seeing before was a summary of possible job cuts. 98.6 (12.6%) certificated, 40.3 (10%) classified and 19.5 (29.1%) management team.
Pages 3 & 4 show how much could be raised with a parcel tax ($100 per parcel per year:$2.4M, etc.), what surrounding districts have in place and a timeline for layoffs and parcel tax initiative. Concludes with addresses for state legislators and encouragement to contact district staff, board and legislators.
Casey quickly went over the paper then opened things up to questions. Pretty clear the class size reduction is a hot button and parents of young kids were ready to sign-up for parcel tax committees so they don't risk losing that. Think there were fair number of teachers in attendance and some questions were related to who might get notices, who gets hired back first, administrators moving back to teaching positions, etc. Casey explained how some things could not be considered because funding comes from a different pot i.e. summer school. Overall, very civil and orderly meeting.
My impressions: district staff desperately wants a parcel tax--everyone else has one so why shouldn't we. These are the cuts that will happen if we do not help pass a parcel tax. While they say they want our ideas, there's really nothing else to discuss or negotiate. Clearly not going to seriously discuss a salary reduction. No way. And no, they don't care that times are tough and many of us in the private sector have already lost our jobs, customers, clients, etc.

While I essentially agree with Al Cohen, he may be the only one in those budget meetings who is thinking "shared sacrifice"." Unless shared means we give via parcel tax, PUSD spends.

Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 27, 2009 at 7:51 am

"Was kind of surprised to see that $2M of that is what Casey referred to as "Step & Column" increases based on experience and education-not raises he said."

Glad to see someone else say this. Overall its a good characterization of the sales pitch, I mean, forum. Casey said on the one hand there's a salary freeze and 0% increases. Then he mentions "step and column" increases. This is some sort of jargon for a raise that no one in the audience knows what it means unless you go look it up afterwards. In the administration's mind, "step and column" means something different from "salary freeze". But the fundamental idea is that someone will get paid more. It was kind of deceptive to present that "step and column" is not an increase in personnel costs by prefacing it with "salary freeze".

"Rest of page 1 and 2 summarize the same info the district already put out but less detail."

One wonders if they purposely hide details hoping that no one will follow up. When dealing with money, people need details. I'm kind of curious to know why the line-item budget isn't available online, why people have to go into the district office to look at it. It would be easier for everyone to be able to review an electronic copy at leisure instead of having to stand around and thumb through a paper copy at the office. The second problem is a lack of historical budget data. How can anyone make a clear decision about where we're headed when we don't have any real reference points for where we've been?

Posted by patron of Main St
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 27, 2009 at 7:52 am

NO PARCEL TAX! I will not pay more to support kids that I do not have! Casey, cut your salary, cut the teacher's salaries, cut the fat but do not ask me to pay for your salary and lifestyle. Many of us have taken pay cuts and job losses -- if the parents with kids want this tax so bad then pay it yourselves.

Posted by West side observer
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jan 27, 2009 at 9:16 am

The school district must make cuts, including cuts to programs and cuts in pay. When those have been accomplished and when greater rainy- day reserves have been established, then a parcel tax can be considered. Not before.

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Las Positas
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:09 am

I was at the meeting last night at Amador as well. Administration is beginning to make those sacrafices - their pay has been frozen and pay cuts are not out of the question. Pay cuts for teachers are not out of the question, either. All of this can be included in the language of the Parcel Tax initiative. There is no "give us money & we run" logic here. There will still be cuts, even with the parcel tax, however they won't be as steep & detrimental. Why should ONLY teachers make this sacrifice though? Everyone in the community who benefits from the school system (which is EVERYONE in the community!) should step up.

To those who do not have kids, and feel this is not their problem: It IS your problem. Why do you think the value of your home has NOT seen the sharp decrease like surrounding cities? It is because of the community, and as much as you don't want to admit it, it's because of the schools in our district. The schools attract more people to our city than anything else. It may not be YOUR opinion, but it is FACT. And if you choose to move to another city, guess what? You'll be paying a parcel tax!

Regarding the 4-page green form handed out last night.... that was an overview. The cuts are in greater detail (under each heading) on the PUSD website. I was handed the detailed cuts at a PTA meeting I went to, so it does exist. The district isn't trying to hide anything.

Posted by resident
a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Jan 27, 2009 at 11:51 am

That is fine if you don't want to be involved in something because you don't have children, but how about come up with a solution rather than just saying "no" to a parcel tax and cutting of salaries.
If you think that you will not be effected by the school cuts, should I remind you these children will be running your city one day.
Being exposed to high quality education/standards/schools has to start at a young age.

One last word to you -Main St. patron- Stop trying to divide the community and come up with something more intelligent than telling parents to pay for it themselves!

Posted by John Adams
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 28, 2009 at 9:32 am

Thank you "no disconnect" and all the citizens who were able to attend the meeting and report on it. Sorry to say it looks like nothing has changed. The district has decided that squeezing the community for more money is the only way to maintain their status-quo, and they are holding public "meetings" to gain approval for their plan.

Just say NO! NO MORE TAXES!!

Posted by West side observer
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jan 28, 2009 at 9:38 am

Some times division happens. Sometimes it is good. In the case of the schools, we have been one with school spending and have paid little attention to the consequences. It is not a secret that the legislature cannot balance a budget (all Democrats supported by the CTA)so why are we always surprised by the budget shortfalls? Now would be a good time to spend 20% less than we have been--setting aside 10% for this kind of rainy day which will come again next year and far into the furute (Democrats will continue to get campaign contributions from the tacher's union and continue to spend more than we take in.) And, you know what? Our kids will not stop learning just becaue there are 22, 25, 30 in a classroom. They will not stop learning if we must stop buidling sun shades in the playgrounds. They will not stop learing if parents are asked to pay for extracurricular activities incuding band and sports. They will not stop learning if parents are forced to send their children to school on a bus that they must subsidize. They will not stop learning if students take up the slack in the libraries. They will not stop learning if lawns are mowed a day or two later. And, when you really get down to it, they will not stop learning if teachers forego pay raises (or, at least they shouldn't.)

Posted by stayhomedad
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 10:04 am

West side observer, that was really funny. Although I hope that was your last attempt at humor.
Let me finish your post for you: They will not stop learning if we tear down the playgrounds, and they will not stop learning if close the library, they will not stop learning if their parents work 14 hours a day (each), they will not stop learning if we teach all of Pleasanton kids in ONE BIG MASS CLASSROOM, they willnot stop learning if we cancel all sports and extra curricular activites.... I get your crazy as you put it. Kids are resilient! But as parents, its our job to find the best way. Do you get it now... or are you going to post something ridiculous?

Posted by West side observer
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jan 28, 2009 at 11:01 am

For all of the stay at homes. Get real. There is only so much money to go around right now. There are ways to cut so that it doesn't harm our children was the point.

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