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New elementary school discussed at council/PUSD board joint meeting

Original post made on Apr 12, 2017

Development was a predominant subject at a special joint meeting of the Pleasanton City Council and the school board Tuesday night.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 4:06 AM

Comments (42)

Posted by RU Kiddingmii
a resident of Valley Trails
on Apr 12, 2017 at 10:06 am

RU Kiddingmii is a registered user.

This school board is unbelievable. Firstly they cant even hire a decent Superintendent without some secret past or character flaw. Then they spit in the face of public opposition and pass a resolution giving all schools sanctuary status. Now, they are going back and fort as to where (unnecessary) new schools should be built, AFTER they already decided that they should explore building on a site they already own.

NO ONE in Valley Trails wants a school. The school district initially owned the property then sold it to the church. There have been SEVERAL times in the past that the site was available for a school and the PUSD passed. The ones advocating for a new school in Valley Trails need to mind their own business and realize that, either they are no longer on the city council (and their 15 minutes of fame has passed) or are in over their heads.

No one likes a busybody. Especially when they cant make up their minds. Even the person who constantly drones on and on about the schools time after time is on record stating that the site is too small and does not meet the minimum size for a school. Get over it and move on!!!!!

Posted by Ed Student Dad
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 12, 2017 at 10:10 am

I'm a dad of two kids who will hit high school in the next 2-4 years, so attended last night's joint city council and school board meeting to better understand some of the issues I'm hearing about at the high school level. I really appreciate the cooperation and good conversation I saw between the city council and the school board. Great stuff!

Based on my understanding of the conversation last night, I'd like to add a little color to the reporting that the annual demographers report shows student enrollment will decline over the next decade and recommends that no new high school is needed.

1. The demographers report breaks the projections into two primary time frames. The first is a long-term view called the "maturation view" and the next is a ten year view.

2. The maturation view has no specific time frame, but assumes all land in Pleasanton is developed per current zoning. For the maturation view, the projection is that there will be around a 15% increase in TK - 12 student enrollment (I thought I remembered just under 30% from the presentation last night, but in looking at the raw data in the report, it looks like 15%).

3. The 10 year projection shows a decline (~3%) in the next 10 years, starting a couple of years out. However, this 10 year projection only includes planned development. Beyond that, the 10 year projection includes no assumptions for further development. You can see on p. 18 of the demographer's report that assumptions for new housing decrease rapidly in the first 5 years and are actually zero in the last 5. The first two years' numbers are probably the most accurate given development lead times. Considering that, my take is that this projection is probably good for about 2-3 years, not the 10. The logic of the demographic report excluding the out years is that since we don't know what development will be in the out years, it won't be included. I'd be much more comfortable with a reasonable estimate for the out years rather that just assuming no development. Or, if we are going to make a no development assumption, the projection should only go out as far as we have strong assumptions for development so as not to be misleading.

4. Combining points 2. and 3., the view is that student enrollment will decline after the next couple of years and then crank back up afterwards as we work towards maturation (or full development). This doesn't seem like a reasonable view based on historical growth and a smell test. That's because the projections ignore development in the out years of the 10 year view.

5. The demographers report recommends no additional middle or high schools. This is based on the assumption that what we currently have is what we want. Based on data showing 115 portable classrooms across the district, high schools well over planned enrollment (2,200 and 2,600 at Foothill and Amador respectively, per U.S. News & World Report, vs. the planned for 2,000 per Pleasanton high school), and reports of students not being able to get classes they want at Foothill (Spanish and Biology), it seems to me that revisiting our standards would be appropriate.

My concern is that once this data and recommendations are put out, they become accepted as fact and I believe there are some flaws in the methodology and underlying assumptions. Additionally, my understanding is that this modeling has projected declines in student enrollment in the recent past and Pleasanton has in fact seen increases, contrary to the model. This puts Pleasanton in a reactive vs. proactive mode in terms of maintaining quality education for our kids, school rankings, and property values.

Some suggestions to make sure that doesn't happen again:

1. Review past performance of this model and methodology vs. actuals and adjust as needed
2. Benchmark our projections vs. comparable cities in the Bay Area, including a detailed look at their assumptions, methodology, and accuracy of past models
3. Put in growth assumptions for the full 10 years based on city planning, understanding that there will be a +/-
4. Pressure test this vendor's modeling by building another, independent model

Posted by RU Kiddingmii
a resident of Valley Trails
on Apr 12, 2017 at 11:31 am

RU Kiddingmii is a registered user.

@ Ed Student Dad - great points. Thank you for taking the time to analyze and summarize all the data as well as your feedback about the meeting. It was helpful, and I am sure no small task.

Your points and conclusion serve to reinforce the shortcomings of the PUSD Board. If you are able to deduct all of these facts and see flaws in the data, then one would hope that those who serve in leadership would be able to as well. However, clearly that is not the case.

The other question that begs to be answered is: if there is a need for (2) more elementary schools, based on "increased" enrollment, then why would there not be a need for secondary schools? Where are the primary students going to attend once they complete grammar school - are they not going to advance??

Furthermore, our PUSD Board may be educated, however they (seemingly) lack common sense and the ability to interpret data. They have, however more than mastered the art of overspending. I wonder how much this consulting group is being paid for flawed data.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 12, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

RU Kiddingmii, There is more than just data to consider. We have ignored the needs of our students for years and addressed growth with the addition of portables to every campus except Hearst, Mohr, and Village. That is the initial problem to solve and that requires a new elementary school. It is also clear that unless we believe very large middle and high schools are acceptable, there will indeed be a need to address that issue as well.

It is fine that you have a plan of your own for Valley Trails. The rest of us, however, are trying to solve for the entire community, its children, their teachers, and for a quality educational environment.

Posted by Jay
a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Apr 12, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful comments Kathleen. We clearly have a need for elementary school and need to carefully look at all options. Hate to think our kids on north side would need to be bused or driven to Neal. it is not too late to consider this site for the good of our kids and the community.

Posted by Perry Mason
a resident of Castlewood
on Apr 12, 2017 at 2:02 pm

Perry Mason is a registered user.

@RU Kiddingmii - you hit the nail on the head. This site has been languishing for a long, long time and those poor Valley Trails neighbors have been in limbo for a lomg time too. It is not fair to pass this project up for the pipe dream of some, that will never see the light of day. I remember when that site was first built and also when the school board sold it and also know that the board has passed on it numerous times, including recently. In other wirds, that bus of opportunity left long ago!

Likely the same people want to roadblock this project are likely the same bunch that complains about the high density housing projects looking so out of character for Pleasanton. Here we have a reasonable, well designed, great in-fill project and the nay-sayers are still not happy.

How could the PUSD board allow the schools get to this point in the first place? Where was all this concern years ago? Typical lead from behind mentality. Oh yes, and lets not forget just how well they maintain the schools once they are built, which is why they needed the ridiculously expensive bond measure last November.

Lastly, the property in question is not even available, and less than a 1/2 mile from Donolin ... so, why are we even talking about this?

Posted by Lou
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 12, 2017 at 2:19 pm

The predecessor Pleasanton Elementary district sold the Valley Trails site decades ago. PUSD sold the Del Prado site 20 years ago. Now the neighbors around Neal are again working to stop Neal from being built. If Ayala and Brozosky wanted the Valley Trails location to be the school they should have spoken up 15 years ago. It is too late to go back and forth on this issue. Neal should have been opened in 2004 as it was originally planned. More delays. More nonsense. More ineptitude.

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Valley Trails
on Apr 12, 2017 at 5:55 pm

Funny that Valley Trails was open to building a school 10 or so years ago when I moved into Valley Trails and the HOA was hell bent on stopping a potential 300 unit development on the land. I'm in favor of a school and would welcome it.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 13, 2017 at 6:25 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Valley View and Vintage Hills are .7 miles apart. Walnut Grove and Alisal are .9 miles apart. Distance isn't what matters; it's students. At the start of the year 74 students were sent to other schools, not always the closest to their home. No one will expect students to go across town to Neal. Either boundaries will be redrawn entirely (grandfathering makes this easy) or Neal would be a magnet school . . . STEM or STEAM. There are questions about that approach. There are other creative ideas not being explored.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 13, 2017 at 6:27 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Forgot to say that past decisions were made based on information and the people in charge than. Let's not cripple a new discussion based on old news.

Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 13, 2017 at 8:23 am

All the naysayers need to spend some time in our classrooms and see that our kids are being "stacked and packed" just like all the residential building that's going in this town, not happy with any of this. Get rid of the outdated portables and the overcrowded classrooms before all this overbuilding becomes fully occupied, take your blinders off the storm is coming and just sandbags aren't going to help our kids!

Posted by Classic bait and switch (at the last minute)
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 13, 2017 at 8:34 am

The renewed discussion aka the "new discussion" on the Valley Trails site and as to whether the PUSD should repurchase land for many tens of millions of dollars after the schools sold it in the first place to a church serves no purpose than to delay any building on the Neal location. And this is a couple of weeks prior to a housing development being approved at the Valley Trails site by the city.

The city manager is quoted that the previous superintendent nixed the idea of Valley Trails. Given the superintendent seems to change every six months, the PUSD is in constant chaos, re-looking at each and every issue and decision it has made in the last two decades. That is why there is no high school off of the location near the city operations center off of Busch road and Neal remains empty.

I concur with the previous poster that this "new discussion" is nothing more than a politically motivated move to 1) halt the construction of Neal and 2) stop the housing development at Valley Trails by Kay Ayala and others affiliated with her (perhaps Steve Brozosky).

Posted by Same old same old - good luck!
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 14, 2017 at 10:14 am

I have lived here for 17 years and agreed to move here because Of many many promises made by the school board. All I can say is good luck! You can pretty much go back 18 years ago and read minutes from those meetings and it's the exact same. The school board will bring up building a school - blah, blah, blah - discussed at nauseum for years and nothing will get done. I can't tell you how many times they have listened to the demographers. (Which say the same thing - really not sure why we pay them). They promised to build another school when elementary enrollment got to 10,000. Nope didn't happen. Also when I moved here I asked for 8 years of board minutes and believe it or not they gave them to me and when I read through it was eye opening. They actually knew the right thing to do they just never did it. Every year they increased the enrollment max at the the high schools from 1,500 to 1,800 to 2,000 and then realized they kept increasing to whatever the enrollment was and stopped. Based on what they said there should have been a 3rd high school built too. I agree elementary school should have been built in 2004 but too much opposition from parents at other schools thinking their school wouldn't be remodeled and also former teachers got up and spoke in opposition - everyone look to their own interests. All I can say is good luck and glad my kids are in college now or at private school. it's an endless roller coaster here!

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 14, 2017 at 11:53 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

This has been disheartening. It turns out the district, by direction of the board, signed an agreement with Ponderosa in October 2016 to accept fees in lieu of considering the site for an elementary school. This is on April 18th agenda. The board signed an agreement BEFORE Ponderosa had the land rezoned (3-2 vote on Wednesday I believe) and BEFORE City Council approval (don't know when they will discuss).

From the packet for April 18:

14.2. Report and Discussion Concerning Availability of 6900 Valley Trails Avenue (15 Minutes)
Micaela Ochoa
The annual public Joint Special Meeting of the Pleasanton City Council ("City") and Pleasanton Unified School District (“District”) Board of Trustees (“Board”) took place on April 11, 2017. During that meeting, the City provided its Community Development Department Update report on, among other items, the status of notable development projects within the City’s jurisdiction, which included Ponderosa Homes II, Inc.’s (“Ponderosa”) proposed 36 units, single-family residential development project (“Project”) at 6900 Valley Trails Avenue (“Valley Trails Property”). As part of this discussion, questions were asked about institutional zoning and the Valley Trails Property at 6900 Valley Trails being considered by the District for a new school site.

In the days following the April 11, 2017, meeting, the District’s Administration looked into this question further. During the Board’s October 10, 2016, Regular Board Meeting, the Board approved a Mitigation Agreement between the District and Ponderosa in order to mitigate the impacts of Ponderosa’s proposed Project at the Valley Trails Property. Under the Agreement, Ponderosa agreed to pay the District $775,400.00 in mitigation fees pursuant to the Agreement. The October 10, 2016 Agreement stipulates specific language that would prohibit the District from pursuing the property.

Accordingly, in furtherance of honoring the direction that the Board previously made in October 2016, the Administration will formally notify the City that the District is precluded from pursuing acquisition of the Valley Trails Property, and continues to support the Agreement in accordance with the District’s obligations under the Agreement.

Recommended Motion:
The Administration recommends that the Board of Trustees receive an update regarding the 6900 Valley Trails Avenue property, and provide direction to the Interim Superintendent as noted above to notify the City that the District is precluded from pursuing acquisition of the property.

The agreement with Ponderosa can be found here: Web Link Attachment to Item 11.7

Article 4, Article 5, and Article 6.2.1 are where the district signs away any flexibility for the future in exchange for $700K--money that, ironically, likely pays for portables. The district's law firm, Kingsley Bogard, who employs Pat Kernan, former board member, did not serve the district well in signing off on this agreement. I would question whose interests they did serve. I have stated this before, this firm needs to be fired. They have been entrenched for more than 30 years and their advice, or in this case, lack thereof, is hurting students.

Whether this site is ideal for a school or not, the district acted prematurely, prior to the bond vote, and without in-depth board discussion of district needs and all possible solutions for addressing them. Unbelievable.

Posted by Lou
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 14, 2017 at 12:20 pm

There is a state law passed in 2003 that prohibits schools from purchasing or siting schools near freeways. I know I heard about this for years in city General Plan meetings. It is in Ch 9. Ask any former planning commission member and they should know all about it. It is due to air quality. Ayala should know all about it too because she was on the city council when the governor enacted the law. The Valley Trails site is off the table. The asphalt plant was moved to allow Neal to move forward. No sites near 580 or 680 can be a locations for any schools. Schools must not be within 1/4 mile of air pollution sources. Time to move forward.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 14, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Interesting factoid that's never been raised before, but there are possible mitigations.

Hazardous Air Emissions and Facilities Within A Quarter Mile

(See Education Code Section 17213(b) and Public Resources Code Section 21151.8(a)(2).)

"The LEA shall consult with the administering agency and the local air pollution control district or air quality management district to identify facilities within a quarter mile of the proposed site that might reasonably be anticipated to emit hazardous air emissions or handle hazardous materials, substances, or wastes and shall provide written notification of those findings.

"The LEA shall make the finding either that no such facilities were identified or that **they do exist but that the health risks do not or will not constitute an actual or potential endangerment of public health at the site or that corrective measures will be taken that will result in emissions mitigation to levels that will not constitute endangerment.** In the final instance the LEA should make an additional finding that emissions will have been mitigated before occupancy of the school.

"These written findings, as adopted by the LEA governing board, must be submitted to the Department as a part of the site approval package. Often this information is included in the Phase I site assessment and in the adopted California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document. (See CCR, Title 5, Section 14011(i).)"

As the Board was willing to at least give this a second look, it is clear they never heard about this *possible* limitation before. So, "Lou", why now?

Posted by Lou
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 14, 2017 at 1:02 pm

SB 352 was passed long ago. It has been discussed at many many city meetings. Don't recall seeing any school board members or staff from PUSD even though 4 or 5 were held at PUSD. Guess they are too 'busy' to show up at PUSD schools and the PUSD central office. I guess we have a situation where the school leadership is so far removed from reality that they feel their role is more along the lines of tossing out superintendents and principals and other political power plays that involve flushing fees down the toilet on lawsuits concerning warped HR actions, accusing Signature of fraud and deceit, suing law firms for negligence - all funds that could have been used long ago to construct schools.

Posted by RU Kiddingmii
a resident of Valley Trails
on Apr 14, 2017 at 1:03 pm

RU Kiddingmii is a registered user.

So...lets summarize this whole issue:
1. The PUSD is confused and, although may be educated, lack the most-basic knowledge.
2. Regardless of this error and countless others, they still are placed in charge of millions of dollars.
3. The outside consultants are wrong, or give misleading data, yet they continue to be hired time after time.
4. The PUSD falls short in their selection of the last few Superintendents (wonder when we will read about the clandestine departure of the current - "Acting" Superintendent - anyone want to start a betting pool?).
5. The current overcrowding and lack of planning can be directly traced to the past and current PUSD Board- they own it!
6. As I stated in a previous post, it is too late (no matter what the City Manger stated at the PUSD 4/11 meeting), as Ponderosa has a signed mitigation agreement! Too bad so sad!!
7. The PUSD Board is more focused on their non-education based agenda (i.e. Sanctuary schools, etc.).
8. PUSD fails to properly maintain their facilities and have a 'run to failure' mentality. But then again, why bother to spend money on maintenance when you can cry poor mouth and squeeze the taxpayers?
9. Where does the PUSD spend their maintenance dollars? It is clear they don't use them as they should?
8. See Items 1-9 for the reasons why I have always sent my kids to private school!

It is clear that many supporters/posters of this ridiculous proposal failed to check their facts and their posts are emotionally-based, rather than fact-based. You all need to wake up and, instead of spending your time writing inaccurate posts, you should be spending your time recalling the PUSD Board! How does that Kool-Aid taste by the way??

Posted by Perry Mason
a resident of Castlewood
on Apr 14, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Perry Mason is a registered user.

@Lou & @RU GREAT, @Same Old, @ Classic Bait & Switch, @Ed Student Dad - great points and FACTS!

For those "neighbors" / posters that cant figure out why a neighborhood would be againtst a 300 unit high density project several years ago, but now support a 36 unit single-family medium-density project, then I cant help you. It defies logic, unless those folks are a product of our PUSD and the Common Core program that emphasizes "new math"...

Its time to MOVE ON!

Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 14, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Time for action and acting adult. Build the school we have been studying, talking, arguing, etc. Lets do it! We have land and a big need. Whats holding us back?

Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 14, 2017 at 7:15 pm

@"What's holding us back". --------- 1. Big developer dollars. 2. City council and planning commission that can only see those big developer dollars. 3. PUSD is run by a bunch of incompetents that could care less about the quality of our schools, the overcrowding,and the obsolete portables that we pack our kids into every school day!! The city and PUSD will keep bleeding us for more money, they will keep making promises and nothing will change.

Posted by Classic bait and switch (at the last minute)
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 14, 2017 at 8:04 pm

The unification of the Pleasanton school districts has been a disaster since 1988. For 29 years, PUSD has been stuck in some sort of time warp.

Murray (used to have Donlon and Lydiksen that were constructed in 1967/1968), Pleasanton Elementary and Amador Joint Union High district should have never been combined in the first place. First, the High School district condemned large parcels of land in south Pleasanton, setting the homes of the families that lived there on fire and burning the buildings of the landowners and bulldozing them like some sort of military occupation force. And this was for a high school they said they needed right away. After terrorizing the land owners and forcing them from their land, the land set vacant for decades.

Similar things happened with land near Hansen Park, Valley Trails, Dublin Canyon Road and Crellin Road...eminent domain to strip the land from landowners saying they need to build a school right away, land sits empty, then the district sells it for a profit.

Once it combined in 1988 to form Pleasanton Unified, it started on a path of selling off each and every vacant parcel it had in place. This started with the high school site in South Pleasanton.

Once the Neal "points of agreement" plan was put into place, the PUSD never even formalized the agreement with a formal construction agreement. I think this was on purpose because the plan all along was to string along the public, keep the Neal land vacant, then eventually sell it to developers.

This is all part of PUSD's corrupt game they have played for decades.

Posted by Lou
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 14, 2017 at 9:09 pm

What you have to realize is that PUSD is not in the education business nor are they in this for the kids. PUSD is about lawsuits and process servers and courtrooms. This goes back to 1978 when the local school district decided to sue the voters and the State all the way to the California Supreme Court over the passage of Proposition 13. You can look up the case filed under the then Amador Valley Joint Unified name. It is no wonder PUSD puts over $100,000 to $250,000 in legal expenses and settlements every month into the pockets of lawyers. PUSD is the epitomy of fraud, waste and abuse.

Posted by Tom Gaffey
a resident of Valley Trails
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:37 am

I come at this discussion from a unique angle, I have lived in Valley Trails for 31 yrs, I attend the EFC, and on the last go around for development, 10 years ago, I recused myself from the process because I was a consultant/sub-contractor for one of the developers seeking the property. I don't know where the 300 number came from, probably scare tactics, the largest number of units was by Regis Homes who proposed 52 units. This process has been a long and difficult one, with the current plan being the best yet, agreed to by the EFC, the neighbors and Ponderosa. With homes in VT now selling for a cool million, what do you think the fair market value of 9 acres would be, 12-15 mil? probably that would wipe out 30-50 % of that 35mil construction cost. One of the biggest questions in all this has been traffic, I'm betting that 36 homes won't come close to 600-700 students being driven to class.

As far as the pollution goes I'll leave that to the lawyers, However I am an electrical contractor and frequently install back up generators, if the unit I'm installing is over 50 horsepower and within 1000 yds of a school it must have a particulate filter installed, see any filters on those thousands of cars and trucks on 680?

Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:40 am

BobB is a registered user.

These new houses seem like a perfect addition to the Valley Trails neighborhood, as Tom Gaffey says above.

And for everyone with the various complaints about the schools; They aren't that crowded, and they aren't bad at all. Sure we could probably go back to class sizes of 20 for K-3, but that's a matter of hiring teachers, not building another school. As far as the use of portables is concerned, I think they are fine. Looking at Vintage Hills Elementary or Pleasanton Middle school, I see plenty of open space and play area. Have you people seen some of the schools in foreign countries that have better outcomes and higher test scores than ours? My kids have been in Pleasanton schools for the last 10 years, and they are thriving.

I'm mainly seeing a lot of belly-aching here. Some people just want to oppose everything. Lets get the houses built, and while we're at it, install some more cell phone towers.

Posted by another thought
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:56 pm

One of the main arguments I heard for building a new school is because we have over 100 students in portables already. What if we removed the portables and constructed real buildings on their place? We obviously already have the land for the portables so replacing with buildings should not take significantly more land. You could even take some of the lawn area at the schools without noticing much impact. If it gets too crowded at lunch time, you can do two lunch periods for different grades. That would still be cheaper than hiring lunch staff and monitors at another school.

I have to admit that my kids have already gone through the school district (successfully). I don't what 'overcrowded' elementary schools mean so could use some education on that, Since elementary schools don't have kids going from class to class, it seems that if you have enough classrooms and possibly going to two lunch periods of lunch/recess is too crowded, that problems are solved. Perhaps somebody can enlighten me on what the impact is to the schools we have today.

I am not against a new school but want to understand what the real problems are to see what alternatives we have in solving them. I am a software engineer that needs to understand the problem before knowing if a proposed solution is really the best solution.

Posted by Pete
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:46 pm

The decline in Elementary Schools is entirely PUSD's fault. Staggered reading and the removal of reading specialists sent enrollment into a tailspin.

To give you an example, the enrollment at elementary schools before the Ahmadi disaster and now vary greatly. Mohr was 714 students before the arrival of Ahmadi, but now is 592 because many of the parents in both existing and new developments (Cameron Place, Ironwood) removed their children from public schools entirely or did not enroll them at Mohr in the first place. The PUSD has lost over $1 million in State funds annually because of their complete mismanagement of this particular school.

After all, who wants to send their kids to school where they find their wives and female kids who are teens have their Facebook profiles continuously scanned by District personnel like the principal on a regular basis? And what do you say to your kids when staff that are at the school act in unpredictable angry and malicious ways toward children (one was just censured by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing after PUSD did nothing *for years*).

That is where you have a decline from 719 to 594 enrolled kids at an elementary school location. Parents remove their kids from the District like I did.

And before you ask, yes I did complain and the PUSD did absolutely nothing. As did many other parents. Parents moving into the neighborhood did not even enroll their kids there given the many issues there.

Posted by Classic bait and switch (at the last minute)
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 3:17 pm

The District has sold their land for profit for years. I was also reminded at the Farmer's Market this morning about the Mission Park saga - - - when they petitioned the city to put the commercial buildings School District operational headquarters in 1973 behind the houses on Mission right smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood. That also used to be school property.

BTW-The current enrollment for Pleasanton Unified by school is here - Mohr and Alisal are the only elementary sites with less than 600 students.

Web Link

If you click TYPE 'by Socioeconomically Disadvantaged,' you will also see the PUSD has suddenly mysteriously quadrupled or more the number of students falling into this category for certain grades over last year. They have classified a very large number of 6th and 9th graders as "Socioeconomically Disadvantaged" at all middle schools and the high schools.

Are they doing this to scam the State for more money due to their falling enrollment numbers? Or are they doing this to make their test scores look better? Did they cook the books and code kids' test score on the SBAC to make them seem economically disadvantaged when they weren't? THis would aim to show improvement in the "achievement gap." The Pleasanton Weekly should definitely examine this very strange statistic.

In my opinion, I do not believe these statistics at all. Instead, I would be more inclined to believe they are trying to scam the State or improve their appearance in their SBAC test scores by classifying people that aren't truly socioeconomically disadvantaged to be socioeconomically disadvantaged on paper only.

Here are the stats for how PUSD has suddenly increased the number of socioeconomically disadvantaged students they have reported to the State from last year to this year:

2015-2016 2016-2017
AV 9th grade 52 244
FHS 9th grade 30 215
HPMS 6th grade 24 150
PMS 6th grade 38 162
Hart 6th grade 29 157

Very mysterious. Again, the numbers are so suspect, how could anyone ever trust their numbers? And given this, how could anyone ever trust a demography report showing projected enrollment?

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 15, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Here is a history graph of enrollment since 1996. Web Link Enrollment growth has held relatively steady between 2007 (14,864) and 2016 (14,778), and grown since 2000 (13,283).

Another, there are at least *1,000* elementary students in portables. Some are rented portables; some are portables with facades slapped on them to make them look permanent. At this web site: Web Link it indicates classrooms should be 960 sq. ft. with class size reduction in grades 1-3 and kindergarten classes at 1,350 sq. ft. No indication that I saw for rooms with 30 or more students, like fourth grade through middle and high schools. It also states acreage:

Elementary-450-750 students; 9.6-13.8 acres
Middle-600-1,200; 17.4-23.1 acres
High-1,800-2,400; 44.5-52.7 acres

The charts also spell out field space and types necessary. We are at all the higher end of those enrollment numbers, and I will make a wild guess that the "portables" are not 960 sq. ft. I'll have to look to see if I have site acreages for our schools.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 15, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Here is enrollment per site in October 2016 and acreage plus portables.

School, Enrollment, Acres--Portables

Alisal, 574, 10.01--9 portables
Donlon, 824, 19.5--7 portables
Fairlands, 774, 8.22--13 portables
Hearst, 678, 11.03--No portables
Lydiksen, 657, 11.1--1 portable
Mohr, 592, 5.43--No portables
Valley View, 652, 9.52--15 portables
Vintage Hils, 616, 6.58--15 portables
Walnut Grove, 749, 11--2 portables
Hart, 1,243, 18.8--11 portables
Harvest Park, 1,189, 21.5--10 portables
PMS, 1,283, 25.25--16 portables
Amador, 2,648, 40.2--10 portables
Foothill, 2,148, 43.2--6 portables

*Without* portables, nearly every campus is too small. Add portables and you take away acreage, making the spaces even more cramped.

It should especially be noted that Fairlands has 13 portables on 8 acres; Valley View has 15 portables on 9.5 acres; and Vintage Hills has 15 portables on 6.5 acres. Only Mohr is smaller, and it has an additional 5 acre park they use. Amador should be more than 53 acres to fit its enrollment; Foothill should be closer to 50 acres. Hart also is 5 acres too small.

Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Apr 16, 2017 at 9:12 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

From BobB - "And for everyone with the various complaints about the schools; They aren't that crowded, and they aren't bad at all. Sure we could probably go back to class sizes of 20 for K-3, but that's a matter of hiring teachers, not building another school. As far as the use of portables is concerned, I think they are fine."

This is exactly correct.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 16, 2017 at 9:56 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Dan, despite black and white facts to the contrary?

Posted by JustHere
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2017 at 10:16 am

When schools are designed they have a max capacity in mind and no portables. So, if you have a school with many portables, that school now is past design variables. Did the MPR become larger, did the gym become larger etc etc. Portables are great for temporary bubbles (less than a few years) and not so great as a permanent solution.
I suspect put to the votes they will overwhelming approve a new school. Because, after all, this comment area is always wrong when it comes to big issues and this area is in no way a pulse of the voters. Look at Costco, Lund Ranch and so on and so on.....

Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Apr 16, 2017 at 10:18 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

Kathleen today: "Dan, despite black and white facts to the contrary?"

Kathleen on Mar 27th, 2017:

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 27, 2017 at 6:50 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"And if Ms. Ochoa wins the day? Will you and others publicly, in person, apologize? Especially when none of you have bothered to talk to her? Dan, weren't you railing at me about innocence at some point?

Take time to look beyond the BLACK AND WHITE you think is right; there is a lot of gray in this world."

Emphasis mine.

I guess in THIS particular case, there is no gray?

And find the correlation between test scores in our district and portables...that's all that matters.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 16, 2017 at 10:40 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Let's see, the case you cite has not been settled, and we don't have all the black and white facts, just assumptions by others. In the issue of portables, classroom size, class size, campus size: those are the facts in Education Code.

As to test scores, I'll let you get individualized data for every one of our nearly 15,000 students and sub-divide it by who is in a portable and who is not. Test scores are not the be-all and end-all of student:teacher learning experiences.

Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Apr 16, 2017 at 11:39 am

DKHSK is a registered user.


"There is a lot of gray in the world"

Except when Kathleen has an opinion regarding expenditures. Then "black and white" suffices.

"I'll let you get individualized data for every one of our nearly 15,000 students and sub-divide it by who is in a portable and who is not."

No thanks, I'll take the aggregate. And scores are going nowhere but up. PUSD is rated 19th best district in this state, and that's WITH portables.

"Test scores are not the be-all and end-all of student:teacher learning experiences."

For a good many parents, it sure as heck is, and I'm one. It is THE priority. Portables do nothing that impede this and you have ZERO evidence to suggest that they do.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 16, 2017 at 11:48 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

So Dan, why do you think scores are going up?

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 16, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"As with everything else, as long as the average citizen thinks schools are doing well, ignorance or apathy will continue to be pervasive. We need to inform ourselves about the condition of our school buildings -- and appreciate the important difference a facility can make in educating our children." Web Link

"Research limitations/implications
– An experimental study on the impact of portable classrooms on teaching and learning is needed. Analysis of current studies indicate that the impact of portable classrooms on teaching and learning is not as negative as assumed. Still, the negative effects of deterioration or lack of maintenance cannot be underestimated; making implementation strategies, maintenance schedules, relocation plans, and plans for ultimate replacement vital." Web Link

If portables are okay and there's no reason to replace them or fix current facilities, we just handed the district $270M for nothing.

Posted by JustHere
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Test scores alone are not the entire story and for most parents it is but one aspect to consider.
And with or without portables, don't think most students even notice or care. Pretty sure it would not effect test scores. Teachers effect test scores. Students effect test scores. The lesson plan effects test scores. The environment, well open question whether or not a few thousand feet of playground gone effects much at all.
They must have to hire qualified teachers, and perhaps, hire a superintendent who actually stays for a while.

Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Apr 16, 2017 at 2:48 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

"If portables are okay and there's no reason to replace them or fix current facilities, we just handed the district $270M for nothing"

No Kathleen, YOU just handed PUSD this bond.

If I'm paraphrasing you correctly, you indicated that although these $'s don't go far enough wrt to permanent structures by saying "its a good start". As I remember, part of the funds goes to repairs.


Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Apr 16, 2017 at 3:04 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.


"why do you think scores are going up?"

Because we have PARENTS residing in this city who are invested in getting their children the best education they can. Most are successful and educated and expect the same from their children.

I've said it before: you could take only the families living in this city and move them to the worst district in Alameda county, and that districts scores would go through the roof in no time at all. It wouldn't matter who the teachers are.

I'm surprised you even asked this question.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 16, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Dan, correct with one piece you forgot. We have had dedicated, well-educated parents for many years, and good rankings along with that. The increase here, and in neighboring districts, is due, in part, to growth and the changing demographics of our community that came with that growth. I don't want to ignore teacher contributions or the possibility of better curriculum or the changes in testing (for which we only have two current years' data).

Also, there are problems with how districts get ranked ("PUSD is rated 19th best district in this state"). Every rating group has their own criteria. " forgoes authentic school ratings in favor of a highly biased calculation that relies on mindless excel spreadsheet data dumping and online surveys. Rating schools takes a lot more finesse than the system they have set up. Not that its competitors are much better . . ." Web Link

Niche criteria: Web Link All eight areas include some form of "and survey responses from students and parents." It's better than nothing, but it isn't ideal.

Of course, I don't know where you got 19th from, and I'd want to know how we rank nationally, at a minimum.

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