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School district eyes ways of making up potential $7.7-million shortfall

Original post made on Feb 17, 2011

Budget issues continued to dominate Pleasanton school board discussions at a special meeting Tuesday night, with board members acknowledging they face tough choices as they try to cobble together a budget with uncertain state revenues.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 17, 2011, 7:26 AM

Comments (18)

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Posted by Capsized by Illegals
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2011 at 10:55 am

The first thing the Pleasanton School District should do to help the budget shortfall is to call ICE in to determine how many of the children in the Pleasanton schools are illegals, or the children of illegals. Then they should contact some media outlets that would actually cover the issue to put heat on ICE to actually deport the illegals. Once all the illegals are cleared out then they should look to see how many positions could be eliminated because of few students and all the money wasted on things like ELD and special aids needed to service the illegals.

This is just a precursor of what is to come. By 2014, virtually all the schools in the Tri-Valley will be "failing" schools, even though most of them are in the top 10% in the state. No Child Left Behind is a very ill-conceived law that needs to be overturned. The best thing that could happen to schools is to enforce our immigration laws and to get the state and local governments out of running schools. That's a function that is much better done at the local level.

By the way, when is the City Council (dominated by the 3 stooges) and the City Police going to do something about all the illegals in Pleasanton. It took the Feds to smoke out the illegal immigration scam going on at Tri-Valley University (Wow, the dolt Napolitano actually did something!)

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"Cazares noted, for instance, that the district would have to set aside money to pay for the raises when the freeze is lifted, which would include both the new raises and back pay for the time they were on hold."

Freezes can be implemented by negotiating a new salary schedule: i.e., adding steps. The district wouldn't have to set aside money.

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Posted by Shortage
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm

The idea of later "making up" previous freeze is so intellectually dishonest and wrong. THAT kind of BORROWING ON THE FUTURE (aka CREDIT ), is what GOT this country in trouble on everything ! IF PUBLIC employees don't want to be part of a REAL solution...forget it ! Let things FALL where them must, so we call SEE, FACE UP, and find SOLUTIONS ! Postponing is not DEALING with a problem.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm

"The APT also wants to discuss solutions to the rising costs of medical benefits; currently, teachers get a higher-than-average salary but pay for their own health insurance"

Contributors to this blog have said that health insurance costs them about 20k a year. I wonder where this thinking is going? What about people who are covered by a spouse?

I'm not against this, I think all teachers should have health covered rather than the higher salaries that only help the teachers covered by their partners work, but are they really going to be able to reduce salaries by this amount? Will this ultimately help or hurt the budget?

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Posted by Rick
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 17, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Just because something is "the norm"(step and column), that does not mean you should keep doing it.

Some examples of outdated human activity: Slavery, Smoking, Segregation, Dinking and driving,

When one discovers that certain behaviors are unsustainable or unhealthy, it is time change course.

Now we have discovered that revenues have dropped and will not rise enough to cover the cost of step and column raises. Why don't we eliminate them? It is a simple solution to a simple problem.

Unfortunately the PUSD board does not look forward when confronted with problems. They hope, in vain, for the good times to return.
As Don Henley said "Those days are gone for ever, I should just let em go".

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Posted by Jen
a resident of Walnut Hills
on Feb 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm

I'm just curious what the solution is for the problem that Step and Column tries to address: Most teachers have little desire to become an administrator, as it is a completely different job that often removes you from working with kids (unless the kids are in trouble). So, how do we:

1) give incentive for our teachers to stay in a profession for the long haul when there's no opportunity for a promotion (would you?) and
2) give them incentive to continue their education, which costs quite a bit of money out of their own pockets?

If your answer is merit pay, then I wonder what would measure merit? Surely not test scores for a myriad of reasons (many of which were touched upon in Race to Nowhere) Also, would merit pay cost the district less anyway? Aaaaand, if it does cost the district less the assumption is that aggregately teachers would be paid less, so what incentive would teachers have to sign a contract that would essentially ask them to jump through whatever hoops are in place in said merit system for LESS pay?

Food for thought...

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Posted by What a con job!!
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 17, 2011 at 6:05 pm

"Cazares noted, for instance, that the district would have to set aside money to pay for the raises when the freeze is lifted, which would include both the new raises and back pay for the time they were on hold."

What a con job!!

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Posted by Love to teach
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm

I think the district has made a huge savings by having teachers start at a low salary, taking 20 years to reach the top of the schedule. If all teachers started at a comparative salary, then the last 20 years of my employment would have cost a lot more. Not to mention the "merit" pay I would have received with my test scores rising annually, parents requesting my class, multiple extra committees and clubs I chair. Why would my bonuses be reflective of the economy since my "profit" is shown is student success, which is not a factor of the economy. Google showed a profit, their employees have bonuses this year- same with our district- our scores went up, so we would be getting a bonus this year, correct? But of course you can't compare the two, since they don't work the same way. So I wonder, why many insist they salary schedule be the same?

I think about the retiring teachers each year, at the top of the salary schedule, and the new teachers that fill their place- lower on the schedule. Have you recognized this factor of a salary schedule?

Tell me, what would the cost savings be, over a teacher's career, if you got get rid of our salary schedule?

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Posted by Linda
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 17, 2011 at 7:16 pm

The issue is much simpler, the State has frozen salary, PUSD must freeze salary. If PUSD continues to increase salary they must take the money from our kids or get it from the taxpayers who have had their salaries reduced and lost jobs.

PUSD's explaination of why they will not freeze S&C is a smoke screen. The freeze could and should be negotiated.

The economy does not support a salary tax.

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Posted by Maja7
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 18, 2011 at 10:27 am

"Cazares noted, for instance, that the district would have to set aside money to pay for the raises when the freeze is lifted, which would include both the new raises and back pay for the time they were on hold."

What? Really? Back pay for the time their salary was on hold? If wages are frozen, when you thaw them out, they don't immediately get a backpay. Pleasanton teachers are well compensated just compare what they make to other districts that have less parent involvement and funding. It especially angers me since I'm seeing people outside my kid's elementary school handling out info on "E" (the parcel tax) & collecting donations (Stop & Drop). Looks like the donations are just going into the teacher salary bucket!

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Posted by Start Afresh
a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm

No mention of the public comment that the entire budget challenge and more can solved with ten furlough days and the federal revenue? No layoffs would be needed. Why put the district through unnecessary drama?

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Posted by Lauren
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm

In the private sector, a salary freeze is a salary freeze. People don't get pent-up non-raises that then result in a lump sum big payout once the salary freeze is over.

I've never heard of having accruals for "deferred raises." This sounds like District doubletalk to me. What nonsense!

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Posted by Sam
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 23, 2011 at 10:46 am

Thank You PUSD Board members Bowser, Laursen and Grant for taking your leadership responsibilities seriously, making the tough decisions to protect the interests of the "entire school community". With so many unknowns with regard to future budget, State Funding, your vote allows the board to be able to make better informed decisions in the months ahead! And still allows you to bring back programs if the dollars are there!
Thank you all for your leadership!

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Posted by PUSD "Leadership?"
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 23, 2011 at 11:09 am

Actually Sam, those three board members did absolutely nothing. Did you even see the meeting last night? Maybe not. They didn't prioritize the "cut" list, didn't select and prioritize which programs to cut and try to keep. They just voted to cut everything. Hardly leadership. They didn't make any "tough decisions." Maybe they didn't even read the cut list in order to prioritize the items.

The 3 didn't even try to retain the reading specialists and summer school remediation programs for students at risk of failing math and reading.

Now we know why Pleasanton Middle School has been put on probation. It looks like the 3 board members that cut the intervention programs are not at all interested in serving the children of the District that require extra help.

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Posted by Eva L
a resident of Ironwood
on Feb 23, 2011 at 11:55 am

Last night, Trustees Larsen and Bowser went MIA on saving our critical reading programs from the blue sheet cut list. What a disappointing performance from our newest board members who told the voters they actually know something about education. LOL. Fortunately we still had leadership from Trustees Hintzke and Arkin to stand up strongly for making sure all our kids can read. Last night's packed board meeting highlighted two themes from parents and students: our kids need music and our kids need reading. Cut anything that's left over after those basic life skills are met. Yet a board majority voted to blow it all away. I really miss Trustee Pat Kernan who would never have tolerated such cowardice.

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Posted by optimistic mom
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

The votes last night were the beginning of a decision making process, not the end. To say that board members voted to "cut everything" or "blow it all away" is misleading.

I will read the next Weekly article about last night's meeting carefully, because I don't think that any of us can capture what happened accurately in a forum post.

After all, the meeting was something like 5 hours long!

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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2011 at 12:29 pm

You can watch it, I did. Lots of time spent on 7th period, band issues, which are getting resolved and it does sound like a fantastic program that just needed a bit of creative thinking to keep.

Elementary cuts include a shortened day a week, cutting a PE period, cutting reading specialists, cutting summer school for at risk kids (but keeping it for English learners), increasing class sizes, cutting workforce.

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Posted by PUSD "Leadership"?
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I hope you are joking when you say that you have to rely on a newspaper article to tell you what happened rather than be able to accurately summarize yourself what happened at the meeting. The Board was supposed to cut $3.1 from the budget and were given a 2 page list of potential cuts exceeding $3.1 million. Bowser, Laursen, and Grant voted to cut *all* the programs ("everything") listed on the 2 page list. You can find the 2 page list posted at the PUSD website or the Patch.

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

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