Town Square

Post a New Topic

Guest Opinion: Is Donlon-lite really the solution?

Original post made on Dec 28, 2018

Here's the fundamental problem with the Dec. 18 vote to build a separate elementary school for fourth- and fifth-graders directly behind Donlon Elementary: no one actually wants it or can speak convincingly about why this will benefit the community and provide an excellent education for our kids. No one.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, December 27, 2018, 11:29 AM

Comments (32)

13 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Dec 28, 2018 at 9:35 am

So classic. Lots of complaints, questions and negative reactions posted from behind screens and keyboards after the fact, but no solutions or parent involvement.


14 people like this
Posted by Lemons
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Dec 28, 2018 at 12:01 pm

@Parent,
Exactly. I have been following this from the beginning and the poster makes no mention of the numerous times that community input was sought by PUSD from ANYONE who would come. I am impressed by just how often the public was not only invited, but how often input was actually taken into consideration, resulting in a few different iterations of options that were considered. Of course, there is no perfect solution because the reality is that the availability of funds and competing priorities always have to be taken into consideration. Anyone who was truly paying attention to the process would know that. I'm just glad the board has decided on a well thought out course of action - now let's move forward and put those facilities bond measure funds to work! My kids are not getting any younger.


6 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 28, 2018 at 6:16 pm

This process was far less transparent than costco. Even worse, the community paid for a new school, inputed feedback via survey (which i might add did not include this abomination of a "solution") which is more expensive than avtually building a new school - someone explain that one.

This is a pure money grab. Follow the money trail closely.


1 person likes this
Posted by Kurt Kummer
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Dec 28, 2018 at 10:53 pm

Kurt Kummer is a registered user.

Avtually? Inputed? I'm pretty sure those are not real words @Pleasanton Parent. Oh, and using your real name might lend a little more credence to a post. Just saying.


7 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 28, 2018 at 11:05 pm

Kurt,
Tga k yiy fr pointng ut my speling errs. Sticking to topic may add credence to yours...just saying. Do you have any original thoughts on this "solution" or do you stick your nose in the air to any idea with a misplaced period or comma?


3 people like this
Posted by Kurt Kummer
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Dec 29, 2018 at 10:57 pm

Kurt Kummer is a registered user.

Hi @ Pleasanton Parent. (not your real name I guess.) No, I wasn't trying to make fun of your spelling errors. Just asking if you might make a more coherent argument by being a little bit more specific is all. Like what do you mean exactly by saying 'follow the money trail.' What actual facts can you cite with that question? It kinda looks to me like the PUSD asked for public comment, received almost none, and brought forth a plan they thought would work. I could certainly be wrong. Do you have a better plan?


3 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 30, 2018 at 11:42 pm

Kurt,
First my spelling, now my name? Why are you cyber bullying me? Please point out how i was supposed to understand your previous post as a request for greater specificity or a specific plan. I really dont see any meaningful response that would solicit the requested response.
But to your latest question i provided feedback through several forms - 1 voting in support of a bond measure written to trick voters onto thinking it was for a new school. 2 - providing feedback to the survey. 3 - emailing the district directly.

My request- build a new k-5 school and rezone the school lines to balance out the population sizes.


4 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 30, 2018 at 11:47 pm

Kurt,
Think about your statement, the school district asked for public comment and received almost none. Are you not surprised by that? Seems to me there would be an abundance of feedback if requested. So why not? Maybe no one got the request. Was it done at a bare minimum level. Check the box but dont really make an honest effort- yeah sounds about right.


14 people like this
Posted by Winchester Mega-School
a resident of Val Vista
on Dec 31, 2018 at 9:37 am

Kudos to Jenny Mack for standing up with valid concerns, calling out that this is not an ideal solution for our students, families, or community. Also, to the many parents and residents who spoke at the two PUSD meetings, (there were hours of public comments) many who did address other options.
This is not the best solution for our kids and it is a terrible solution for that neighborhood that will absorb the traffic impacts of a Mega-School, that by the superintendent's admission, will NEVER STOP GROWING!
Val Vista, don't be bullied, stand up and be heard!


6 people like this
Posted by Rich Bond Investors
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Dec 31, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Rich Bond Investors is a registered user.

So PUSD voters agreed to borrow the money for a new school first, and then decide how to spend it afterwards? Isn't that backwards?

You shouldn't have passed the bond measure without a much more careful plan for how the money would be used.

We investors can't wait to see you spending more bond money on replacing all those laptops. Nothing better for our bottom line than you borrow-and-spenders using one-time money to start up an ongoing expensive program that doesn't have a budget line item to sustain it!

Guess you'll be paying higher taxes soon in order to keep up the monthly payments on all those loans! Oh, and rates are going up, so when the bonds mature and you have refinance, it'll be even sweeter for us!


3 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 31, 2018 at 7:31 pm

Here is the ballot language:

"to repair and upgrade aging classrooms and facilities at local schools, provide 21st-century learning technology and facilities; improve school safety; update science labs; improve energy and water efficiency; renovate, construct, and acquire classrooms, equipment and facilities; and construct a new elementary school, shall Pleasanton Unified School District issue $279,000,000 in bonds, at legal rates, with independent citizen oversight, annual audits, all funds used for local schools, and no money used for administrations' salaries?"

Elementary schools are for grades from kindergarten or 1st through 5th grade, sometimes 6th grade depending on region.


1 person likes this
Posted by mismanagement
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2019 at 12:53 am

Adding classrooms to the existing Donlon Elementary school is not in accordance to the ballot language which says "construct a new elementary school" per the Bond language.

Adding classroom space to an existing school site means that developer school impact fees must be used to increase the capacity of the existing school.

Just what is the balance of those developer school impact fees? I hear they have been used as a legal/law firm expenditure slush fund. Apparently they haven't been used to build new schools because in the last 20 years or so since a new school was opened, there has been no school opened.


1 person likes this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 3, 2019 at 8:17 am

I think we should use some PPIE funds raised to file a lawsuit against the district for this unacceptable plan. That would be a two folded impact.

1 - diverting funds meant to supplement education to protecting it (still in alignment with PPIE charter).

2 - taking legal action on an unacceptable plan.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 3, 2019 at 3:31 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

PP, realistically we are not taking PPIE funds meant for student enrichment to take legal action. And we'd lose. This is where specificity gets us. The bond language does not say a K-5 school--it says an elementary school. They are building an elementary school--4/5 is still elementary.


9 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 3, 2019 at 3:31 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I’ve been involved in this discussion since the bond was proposed. A few others have also addressed the board regarding the need for schools and for many more years than I did. In the process we proved the district was ignoring growth, counting portables as permanent structures (thus manipulating the view of overcrowding and growth), and quietly growing schools beyond state recommended sizes and the planned enrollment provided to the city by the district for the General Plan. All of this was ignored by many superintendents and board members and the broader community.

When the bond came up, four of us – just four – showed up to request money be earmarked for a new elementary school: one former councilwoman, one former councilman and former board member, one former board member, and a community activist. Without us, there wouldn’t even be the $35MM to start a plan (currently a 4/5 Donlon school). As the board waxed and waned and voted to tear down Lydiksen first, a plan that did not add capacity, only a few of us were there to speak to the need to start a new school immediately. In the two years after the bond passage, land prices continued to soar; the district appeared shocked that students continued to flow in; more students were bumped out of Donlon, Fairlands, Hart; and those students caused domino overflow of other students from their home schools.

The district also missed being a critical part of discussing the downtown plan with the property the district/Village sits on and continues to hold onto valuable property in the Vineyard Corridor (the district is still paying for that land).

I understand the distress of the Donlon neighbors. The district waited years and did little more than add portables all over town. There was no money; there was no plan. I do not, however, see a better solution for this entire community than the 4-5 school on Donlon property. It is where the students are; it is land the district owns; it is 20 acres that can address the need without delays for negotiating land price. It is our fastest option.

As to actual education of students, Donlon will be divided in name only. Children are not going to one TK-3 school and then traveling far away to a 4-5 school; it’s the same campus. Certainly we must expect that there be no less excellence in the learning and teaching occurring in any of these classrooms.

The $61MM price tag is ludicrous. There is good reason to be questioning exactly what kind of structures are being built. There also is no reason to pay $6MM for traffic mitigation. We paid $4MM for the Vineyard straightening for a school that will never be built. The city can pay that $4MM, and with interest, it should be $6MM by now. Even with that, the district doesn’t have $61MM; it has just over $34MM. Either they will not complete other promised projects with this bond or they will ask for a new bond (already being planned for a 2020 vote).

We are not settling. We are doing the best we can with what we have. Yes, that can got kicked, and often, and hard. And now we are paying the price for having busy lives and trusting that those in power saw the issues and were addressing them. Yes, shame on us, but for not being even just a little more present.


3 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 3, 2019 at 8:49 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Nope, not acceptable. A fourth and fifth grade are not a school. You went from semi permanent portables to more permanent ones.

Building a new school supports student academic enrichment- seems like a responsible use of those funds to stop a bastardized project. Or, the powers that be can do what the ballot was meant to support a new school.

How much would you like to wager the 4th and 5th graders that would attend this nicer portable could tell you a new 4th and 5th grade building on an existing campus isnt a new school.


6 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 3, 2019 at 8:56 pm

Voters went to the polls understanding ballot language for a new elementary school.
Grades K-5.
Voters were cleverly deceived by the PUSD staff and PUSD board.


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 4, 2019 at 8:05 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sure. Then someone take the facts and give us the solution.


4 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 4, 2019 at 1:12 pm

Jack is a registered user.

C'mon people! You mean we actually have a Board of Trustees who are willing to build classrooms, and a Superintendent and Staff who will allow them to do so, and you're complaining about it? If there's a better solution that's realistic, please bring it forward... As for traffic mitigation, the City had a hand in creating this disaster, and as such should have to pay to try to fix it...


4 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 4, 2019 at 2:13 pm

Who’s surprised that we aren’t going to get the “new School” that we voted for and that we are paying for???


1 person likes this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 4, 2019 at 2:32 pm

A lawsuit against the school board is a solution to bring this mess to a halt. Cancel the bond and put a proposal or a number of proposals on the ballot and let the voters decide. It’s obvious the board is not competent so take the purse away from them.


3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 4, 2019 at 3:23 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Who is paying for the lawsuit? (Hint: it won’t be PPIE)
I doubt you can cancel a duly approved bond (voters already decided).
What is/are your proposal(s)?
Where are you getting money for, or how are you even qualifying for, a ballot measure?
Where are you getting the money for your to build your better proposal?

A lot of hyperbole out here.


4 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 4, 2019 at 3:35 pm

Jack is a registered user.

@ Pete
With all due respect, if you want to put something on the ballot and let the voters decide, how about better candidates to run for the Board? Or how about any candidate? I believe the two who were up for election last time both ran unopposed...


5 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 4, 2019 at 7:24 pm

I do not want half a loaf, although it may be better than no bread.
I want the whole loaf of bread.

Build the new elementary school K5 as the voter understood it would happen with their vote.


3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 4, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Michael, where and with what money?


Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 4, 2019 at 7:38 pm

Kathleen,
The bond money, voters approved!


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 4, 2019 at 7:50 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Michael, Voters approved $35MM. The price tag for Donlon is nearly double that, and they already own the land. If you buy land and build a full TK-5 — well there is still only $35MM.


3 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 4, 2019 at 8:42 pm

Kathleen,
Correct me if im wrong but wasnt there a state matching/supplementing contribution if we built a new school?

You cant honestly say this solution is what voters approved. If this plan was presented as part of the bond measure it would have been rejected.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 4, 2019 at 9:51 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

There is a matching system for facilities, be they schools or gyms or other projects. A couple problems—Brown has not been releasing the state matching funds; about 1/4 of the $9 billion is already approved and backlogged; we are far behind other districts with approved projects; we don’t qualify for 50% matching; and, if I’m not mistaken, Lydiksen will get what we do qualify for, if we get it.

No, I don’t think this is what voters hoped for, not even me. But there are realities: where the growth is; $35MM isn’t enough; other land options would eat the $35MM, so we’d just own another lot; we are late to resolving the problem; this solution offers the fastest response in the right area and still it’s not enough funding. Delaying only hurts students.


2 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 5, 2019 at 2:49 pm

Jack, The reason I say put it up for a vote and let the citizens decide is because people are very busy and unfortunately the people who run for the school board are frankly people who have extra time on their hands. I am not saying they are bad people and probably are very well meaning but just not real capable. No person in business would run a business like this school board runs the schools.

If we wanted a school we should have developed a scope of work, expectations, deliverables, RFQ's, etc. and then at that point knowing the cost of the project would go forward with a bond. Since we never get that I say propose some alternatives and let the citizens vote.


3 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 6, 2019 at 9:23 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

Pete,

Excellent comment.

If a public business was to have management like the school board, they'd be out of business (or fired) very quickly.

I just don't understand how seemingly educated people can be so bad at management and leadership.


8 people like this
Posted by Rich Bond Investors
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Jan 6, 2019 at 9:54 am

Rich Bond Investors is a registered user.

Re "I just don't understand how seemingly educated people can be so bad at management and leadership."

The turnover in the Superintendent position has been a big problem.

The board is a committee, so sausage has to be made.

There was also a major issue with corruption in part of the Board a few years ago.

The District staff and Union folks tend to be able to outlast change-seeking Board members.

The population of the city has also been evolving, so many voters are not aware of the longer-term issues.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Premarital and Existing Couples: Marriage Rules: Yours, Mine, or Ours?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,061 views

Three Alameda County Supervisors vote thumbs down on public safety
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 653 views

Council halts plans for 90-home senior housing on Merritt property
By Jeb Bing | 0 comments | 411 views