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Foothill High principal calls state budget impact on schools 'dire'

Original post made on Feb 1, 2009

In a letter to Foothill High School students, parents and alumni, the school's principal John Dwyer said he had anticipated that his New Year's message would be one of hope and optimism for new resolutions and fresh starts.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, February 1, 2009, 11:38 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by Dave
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 1, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Superintendent Dr. John Casey is employed under a contract which ends June 30, 2010. His annual salary is $227,002, with a 12-month work calendar and 24 days of vacation. Medical and other health insurance may be purchased at his sole expense, and the District contributes $5,000 annually for life insurance premiums. At the completion of each year of the contract where he has worked at least 85% of the days, he receives a payment of $10,000 into a tax-sheltered annuity. He receives $1,000 per month as a transportation allowance and membership in professional organizations as appropriate and necessary. When Dr. Casey moved to Pleasanton, he received a $200,000 loan to help purchase a home in the community. This loan is interest free and must be repaid within 18 months of the termination of his employment. There is no provision or expectation that the loan would be “forgiven.” The current balance of this loan is $190,000.

That was the official answer from PUSD. With employment tax and perks, that sums up to roughly $500,000 (HALF A MILLION DOLLARS!) per year for a superintendent who we hire to spend OUR MONEY for us. Time to really balance the budget by eliminating these excessive spending.

Posted by Foothill Parent
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 1, 2009 at 3:51 pm

"There may even be questions about our ability to maintain a safe and secure campus. I am not exaggerating when I say that the proposed funding cuts will devastate our school."

I have kids at Foothill and I am disappointed in these scare tactics. If this budget setback causes the principle to be unable to insure our children's safety..........Dwyer should be fired!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Foothill Parent 2
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 1, 2009 at 8:25 pm

I just wish I could get him to return my phone call.

Posted by Tax Revolt
a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 1, 2009 at 10:04 pm

What Dwyer doesn't list as an option is that the entire $8.7M budget gap can be resolved by all PUSD employees taking an 8.7% pay cut. Stop the threats, stop using words like 'devastating' and 'suffering'. There is no need to cut a single job or a single program.

No on the parcel tax!

Posted by Resident again
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2009 at 2:58 am

Thank you Tax Revolt. I just read about it. This caught my attention:

Web Link

"The new $5 billion to $6 billion generated annually from this Act could be spent to reduce class size in all grades; provide adequate and up-to-date textbooks and materials; provide quality teacher training; hire additional counselors, librarians and critical education support staff; restore arts and career technical programs; and recruit and retain highly qualified teachers. None of the money could be spent on administrative costs and misuse of funds is punishable by law."

Notice how the money would be spend on non-needed items. More counselors? More librarians? More teacher training? More grades with class size reduction? My children do well in the environment currently provided, they do not need class size reduction at all levels. That is just a union's way to make a teacher's job easier, hire more teachers and spend our money. As for teacher training, we already have headaches with the teachers getting so many "work" days.

The unions are out of control, and this country needs to figure out how to get rid of them. We can do our part in Pleasanton by now supporting their nonsense.

Posted by Resident again
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2009 at 2:58 am

here is the link:

Web Link

Posted by Ken
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Feb 2, 2009 at 7:20 am

The shortfall is recent raises and future step and column.

For a Principle of a school to say, if we do not vote to give PUSD the money they want for their raises they can no longer guarantee our kids safety, they have taken the extortion threat too far!

Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 2, 2009 at 7:48 am

Rising personnel costs eat into the General Fund. If they don't have to fund CSR through the General Fund that frees it up and then CSR can never "fit" into the General Fund again.

It is my hope that the district consider a Plan B instead of hinging so much upon the idea of a parcel tax. What happens if they can't get it passed? The district will have lay off teachers and increase class sizes. The teachers left will have had their step and column increase, but they'll also have larger classes. Go union!

I thought Dwyer's letter was fair. He wasn't so obviously begging outright for a parcel tax like Casey's earlier Guest Opinion was. Web Link "Voters in both communities went to the polls in November and chose to provide budget predictability and stability through a parcel tax. Is this the time that Pleasanton should consider such an action?"

Posted by patron of Main St
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 2, 2009 at 8:13 am

While this letter may not have been begging for a parcel tax I did not see one word, not a single word, about pay and benefit cuts. Start there, leave the threats out of it. Until every person, top to bottom, takes a cuts in pay and benefits I will never consider a parcel tax. It is simply not needed. This is nothing less than extortion. I witnesses it from my own evil CEO right before he took millions in bonuses. cut my pay by 50% and stole my pension. This is different in scale only, not in substance.


Posted by Friend of Pleasanton
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2009 at 8:30 am

I don't think that personally attacking Principal Dwyer is the solution. Yes, the wording is strong, and maybe it needs to be to get our atention. More taxes are not what I wish for, but understanding what they will pay for is vital. I also understand that the gist of what Mr. Dwyer is suggesting is that we have become USED to the "Best"...the best teaching, best counselors, best activities, best opportunities, best security, etc. Pleasanton is already light-years ahead of most other districts in the state; what we already have is a dream for them. Go to the meeting, find out what is happening, then decide.... just stop shooting the messenger!

Posted by Bob
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 2, 2009 at 8:31 am

Interesting letter to the editor in Monday's Valley times from a teacher who is not towing the "everthing is essential" line. Have a look...

Posted by Tanya
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 2, 2009 at 8:38 am

Thank you Friend of Pleasaton.

We all need to be informed, attend the meetings, educate ourselves and then come together as a community to decide what we want Pleasanton to look like going forward.

Posted by John Adams
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 2, 2009 at 9:02 am

This is how the propaganda looks to me:

Parcel Tax = new stuff
NO Parcel Tax = loss of old stuff

Does it look like a bully is trying to sell us a shiny new bike while threatening to steal our serviceable old bike if we don't buy the new one?

Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 2, 2009 at 10:37 am

Thanks Dwyer. I'm now very afraid that I'm going to vote yes on the parcel tax...NOT!

The more of these threats I see, the more convinced I am with my decision to vote NO on the parcel tax. It's sad to think that I used to be a supporter of the schools and was somewhat supportive of having a parcel tax to fund new learning opportunities. Not anymore...

Posted by Parent
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Feb 2, 2009 at 11:53 am

This is not a PUSD issue. This is a global, national, state and Pleasanton issue. The district has manged to keep these cuts away from the students for a lot longer than districts surrounding us and for that Dr. Casey and his team should be commended- not criticized and personally attacked. The schools will continue to be here, they just won't be of the same quality that they have been. Just like your house will still be here- it just won't be worth as much as it was back when we had a great school district. It saddens me that when principal Dwyer is asking us to come together, certain elements of our community seem more concerned with trash talking teachers. They are not CEO's of Enron type companies, they are the people responsible for the educational welfare of our children- I will support them in any way I can.Starting with attending meetings and getting the facts- not uninformed ignorant opinions!

Posted by cassie
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Feb 2, 2009 at 12:04 pm

I don't have any problem with the way the letter was written. People tend to not pay attention unless things grab them. The parcel tax is an option, cutting some services are options, and so is letting things happen as they will. The point is that people are thinking about it now, not just letting someone else make their decisions. And that is was the Foothill principal is saying. Think now and your vote will be an educated one. The comments on this blog are alway so vindictive that I tend not to pay attention to them.

Posted by Pollyanna's sister
a resident of Heritage Oaks
on Feb 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm

What makes you suggest that anyone who has written here is "ignorant" and "uniformed?" Is it just because they don't agree with you? It seems to me that these folks have read the material and gone to the meeting and perhaps have just come to a different conclusion about the message the district is trying to put out.

Disagreeing with folks shouldn't be labeled as being critical either. The administrators chose to publish the information and these people are simply reacting to it. I believe that is what this forum is for.

I don't think that asking staff and administration to consider salary rollbacks is "trash" talking either. It seems like a perfectly reasonable idea-and remember Dr. Casey and Principal Dwyer do want us to believe that "all" ideas will be considered.

So Ms./Mr Parent try and store away your judgement for a while and pay attention to ALL the viewpoints, YOU may learn a thing or two too.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Feb 2, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Not from reading most these posts I won't!

Posted by teacher
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Feb 2, 2009 at 1:37 pm

To the 'resident' who made the comment about being tired of all the teacher 'work days', I'm curious about what days you are referring to. At the elementary level, I admit that those half days for conferences are a bit excessive. However, those of us in secondary education get 1 'work day' a year ; that was on January 26th. We used that day to complete our grading for the first semester, and to prepare our instruction for the second half of the year. That is the only 'work day' we get all year. There is a 'staff development' day, only one, which takes place in late October. This is meant for 'staff development', not 'working in our classrooms'.Often, many of us would forego that day designed by administrators, in favor of teaching our own students in the classroom. Staff development is an ongoing process that often takes place on our 'own' time, during collaboration periods, and over the summer break. I implore the public to get informed, instead of making rash statements about issues that are completely untrue. Here's a thought, strike up a conversation with an actual teacher in PUSD and ask us all your questions. You might learn something new, like many of us are residents of this community, who will be affected by the parcel tax as well. This is not an issue of 'us' against 'them'. We are a community, and it is too bad that many of us are not acting like that.

Posted by Parent II
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 2, 2009 at 1:39 pm

"Foothill High principal calls state budget impact on schools 'dire'"

And I call the massive layoffs, salary/benefits reduction, and struggling businesses impact on taxpayers even more 'dire'. Can we pass a parcel tax to help all the "Pleasantonians" who are impacted by the economic meltdown???

Posted by Parent
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Feb 2, 2009 at 2:56 pm

I was advised by some other parents to take a look at these blogs so i can make up my mind on any parcel tax issues. I was also advised that this is a place where people will emote their feelings and not necessarily provide clear logical thinking. Upon reading these entries, as well as others, I am convinced that these blogs, by and large, are for the extremes of our community.

The people I meet in religous and civic functions are much more, compassionate, level headed and clear eyed about the situation. I bid fond farewell to you folks. I hope you enjoy your netherworld that you live in and i am returning to the regularly scheduled program of the real world.

Posted by Crumudgeon
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Feb 2, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Based on the blogosphere, the parcel tax is dead on arrival.

An accross the board pay cut seems perfectly reasonable.

The tenured teachers won't go for that.

Of all the cuts mentioned, the custodian layoffs are the most disturbing.

Posted by Crumudgeon
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Feb 2, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Some hints that your taxes are going up.

Federal Gov't running an annual 2 trillion dollar deficit

State Gov't running a 40 billion dollar annual deficit

The local school district is floating a parcel tax.

The courts have ruled that all public employee pensions are guaranteed by the
taxpayers in the event they are underfunded by PERS.

Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 2, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Posted by Parent, a member of the Harvest Park Middle School community:

"I hope you enjoy your netherworld that you live in and i am returning to the regularly scheduled program of the real world."

So, you think. Who runs the schedule?

Posted by Mercury News article
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2009 at 8:35 am

Los Altos school board rejects parcel tax increase

By Joshua Melvin

Bay Area News Group
Posted: 02/03/2009 07:55:21 AM PST

Facing opposition from community members, the Los Altos school board voted Monday night not to proceed with a proposed parcel tax increase.

If it had passed in a May mail-only special election, the measure would have increased the flat rate tax collected from all property owners in the district by at least $168. The district has had a parcel tax since voters approved one in 1989. Property owners currently pay $597 per piece of land they possess in the district and that money is used by the district to cover various costs including staff salaries.

"This is not the time to go to the community and ask for money," said resident Katie Matice, referring to the recession. She and other speakers said the $260,000 cost to hold the election would be wasted.

In addition to a sour economy, meeting attendees said they were worried there would not be enough time to raise the support needed to pass the measure -- they estimated at least $100,000 would be needed to run a successful campaign. The deadline to hold a May mail-only special election is this week, according to Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters rules. Ballots would have been mailed to voters on April 6.

The district had been investigating the parcel tax increase as a means to respond to anticipated state budget cuts. Randall Kenyon, assistant superintendent for business services, said the district will likely lose $2.6 million of its roughly $42 million budget over the next two years.

If the state cuts come to pass, the district might have to lay off staff and cut programs like art and physical education, said Board Member David Luskin. The parcel tax increase could have raised an estimated $2 million.

Board Member Mark Goines said he voted against the proposal because there is no state budget yet. He said that it will be easier to convince the community to vote for a tax increase with hard numbers and added that voters are more likely to vote for a measure if they know what programs and services are on the chopping block.

Posted by Karen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:27 am

The bottom line is that PUSD and teachers will need to learn to live within their means like the rest of us in the eve of this depression.

You get what you get. Just make the necessary cuts to balance the budget. There are plenty of "fat" accumulated during the good years to trim. This is the time!

Ultimately, PUSD and teachers will need to decide where to make the cuts. They can trade in their step and column raises and COLA increases from the past couple of years to save some jobs, CSR, and other programs/services for the kids.

If we approve a parcel tax, the money can be used to free up millions from the general funds. PUSD can then use those "freed" general funds to support more raises instead of putting them back into the classroom.

Don't be fool by the usage restrictions set on the parcel tax. They can use the taxes to fund education programs and services while freeing up money elsewhere for raises.


Posted by marie
a resident of Castlewood
on Feb 3, 2009 at 12:22 pm

How about some of the administrators take a pay cut? Or maybe all the children who do not reside in this city go back to there home towns and lower our costs. If they go to school here and we have a parcel tax to help PUSD they won't be paying for it. I wanted my kids to go to PUSD so I moved here and paid the price of a house in this city.

Posted by Dan Faraday
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Salary reductions for Dr. Casey and his staff is unfair and should be strictly off limit!

Let's get something straight here:

The parcel tax is NOT used to bail out our honorable Dr. John Casey the Great. Dr. Casey doesn't, and I repeat, DOESN'T need your stinking bail out. Whichever way this thing folds, Dr. Casey will still keep his (upto year 2010):

Annual salary of $227,002
24 days of vacation
$5,000 annually for life insurance premiums
$10,000 into a tax-sheltered annuity.
$1,000 per month as a transportation allowance
$200,000 interest-free loan to help purchase a home

So it's neither here nor there for him. Whatever tax is approved goes toward step and column raises for our wonderful administrators and teachers and maybe, just maybe, PUSD may consider tossing the community a bone by not eliminating CSR.

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