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PUSD, It is too soon

Original post made by Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills, on Dec 21, 2019

“To repair and upgrade aging classrooms and facilities at local schools; provide 21st century learning technology and facilities; improve school safety and security; update science labs; improve energy and water efficiency; renovate, construct, and acquire classrooms, equipment and facilities; and . . . shall Pleasanton Unified School District issue $XXX,XXX,XXX in bonds, at legal rates, with independent oversight, annual audits, all funds used for local schools, and no money used for administrators’ salaries?”

“To upgrade/construct classrooms and facilities to support science, technology, engineering, math, arts/music and accommodate growing student enrollment; improve safety/security systems; replace aging roofs, plumbing/electrical/HVAC systems; and improve access for students with disabilities; shall Pleasanton School District’s measure be adopted, authorizing $XXX,XXX,XXX in bonds at legal rates, raising approximately . . . with independent oversight, audits, and no money for administrators?”

Can anyone tell the differences in the ballot language of these two measures (I left out a couple tipoff phrases)? The essential difference is one was for $270MM and the other is asking for $323MM. Otherwise, it is not obvious what schools will benefit or really how they will benefit. Safety and security have included fencing. Upgrade how? Construct where? Growing enrollment is supposed to be covered by developer fees. Why does it only indicate “administrators” do not receive money? Why does one say salaries and the other does not?

If the new Measure (M) passes, we will have approved $593MM in a three-year period—and estimated to be $1.2 Billion to repay with interest. That, for a guess of 85,000 residents, is just over $14,000 for every person. It also doesn’t include anything the city might want to pass for a new city center.

Add to this the insult of another flier in our mailboxes, paid for by the district, called a “notice to voters” rather than what it really is, another campaign piece. (The last one was a four pager.) At best, the consultants are bending the law by referring to the first as an information piece seeking community input. The consultant’s contract calls for spending an estimate of $70,000; and at the time of my Public Records Act request, only four emails were received (no information was provided on whether they supported the new measure or not). I do not yet have details on the newest mailer.

I want to be sure I provide access to the district’s list of facts. A link to the Measure I1 resolution can be found on the district web site: Web Link
with project updates posted here: Web Link

The resolution approving a new bond (Measure M) can be found here: Web Link
It is item 12.1 on the linked page. The resolution is 2019-20.18-Updated.

More importantly, this new measure is too soon—way too soon. The community took a leap of faith three years ago. The district and board should not be asking for more at a point where there is little to show for what has been done so far, where most of the current bond money is still unspent, when there is not one square inch of new classroom space (capacity) added, and the items given priority have not addressed more important concerns.

The bond approved in 1988 was followed by a new bond in 1997—nine years apart and with plenty of completed projects to prove the district’s intentions were being met. I will vote no on Measure M. No matter how one chooses to vote, I hope everyone who does vote is armed with all the facts, not just the puff pieces (IMHO) being sent.

Comments (16)

19 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Dec 21, 2019 at 8:49 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

Thanks, KR, for all that info. I usually don't follow links but I think yours are probably safe. I agree with you when it comes to PUSD most of the time but what is more important is that I trust you. Please run again.

20 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 21, 2019 at 8:53 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

I agree with all of this.

It does not matter the wording of the flier received by us, it is a violation of law to advertise a bond for public schools. The word bond is stated in the flier.

23 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 21, 2019 at 9:22 pm

Flightops is a registered user.

Thanks KR for keeping us up to date on more of the shenanigans being pulled by the PUSD and their consultants, its good to have a bottomless pit of taxpayers dollars to use for the sole purpose of getting more taxpayer dollars, where does it stop?? Where is our new school??

15 people like this
Posted by Richard Michael 909-378-5401
a resident of another community
on Dec 22, 2019 at 11:00 am

More whining and complaining! Have you demanded that the district make its web site (a public forum) equitably available for opposition "information?" That's required by Education Code 7058. But guess what? You have to act to get your equitable space. Same with the "information" mailers, another public forum. What about the "information" meetings scheduled at school facilities? Why bother, action takes work!

Why are you complaining about the ballot statement? Did you demand that it comply with the law? (Elections Code 13119, 10403 & Education Code 15122, 15272) Of course not, that would require taking action. (Search for: comment richard michael to see my previous comments.)

You could omit the identifiable details from any of the 894 school bond measures over the past 10 years and you wouldn't know what school district or what work would be done. That's by design. It's a sales pitch. That's why 90% of school bonds pass.

You let Pleasanton Unified repay previous debt with the previous bond money. That's a multi-million dollar felony. Have you filed your complaint with the district attorney? With the Securities and Exchange Commission? With the FBI? With the IRS?

No. Instead you cavil about details that won't change the mind of any persuadable voter.

Wake up Kathleen!

11 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 22, 2019 at 11:51 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Thanks Michael. I appreciate your passion. I am not, however, angry. I also am not against all bonds (I supported the last three). I am not seeking or war or even a battle. I am trying to ensure my community has information and knows what my concerns are about this bond at this time.

For your information (I think others already know more or less), I was a board member here many years ago, and I worked “inside” the system in a couple districts. I know this consultant, his work, and his strategies.

As you point out, the language is always vague, intentionally. Not many read the resolutions (otherwise I imagine voters would be demanding change). The language in the resolution, more importantly, absolves anyone of accountability. That is despite reassuring voters with an oversight committee (rubber stamp committee, really, who have to choice to approve precisely because the language about the projects are so vague).

Here is the language in the current bond resolution: “Therefore, the Board cannot guarantee that the bonds will provide sufficient funds to allow completion of all listed projects. Alternatively, if the District obtains unexpected funds from non-bond sources with respect to listed projects, such projects may be enhanced, supplemented or expanded to the extent of such funds. Some projects may be subject to further government approvals, including by State officials and boards and/or local environmental or agency approval. Inclusion of a project on the Bond Project List is not a guarantee that the project will be completed (regardless of whether bond funds are available).”

Our board is wasting thousands of dollars on consultants and an election rather than spending it on those they serve. They wish to take money from our piggy banks to put it into theirs, where it will sit because they do not have the capacity to do all the “projects” at the same time.

All we have to consider is what the district has done with the money we have provided so far. They have not delivered on key concerns—like roofing repairs (which should have been handled with maintenance funds) and adding school capacity. My vote is no, and I will continue to explain why as long as there is someone listening. They have time to meet their commitments and come back to voters. They can wait.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 22, 2019 at 12:53 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sorry. That should say thank you Richard.

9 people like this
Posted by zolli
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 23, 2019 at 1:58 pm

I agree it is too soon for another PUSD bond to pass. All this bond money will create a "deep pocket" syndrome. Money that might be budgeted for school facilities and improvements will now be spend elsewhere. Vote No on the new school bond measure M.

6 people like this
Posted by Richard Michael 909-378-5401
a resident of another community
on Dec 23, 2019 at 2:02 pm

I take no position on individual bonds or taxes. That's up to the local voters.

Having honest ballots is the starting point. Cheaters, whether the county clerk, the trustees, the staff, or the advisors, have no authority to abuse the ballot (and the measure) for their benefit. According to the legislature, that's a crime.

2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 23, 2019 at 6:47 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

With apologies, I got the wrong link in the post for the updates: Web Link

6 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Dec 23, 2019 at 7:04 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

Did I pay for that Measure M postcard that I just got in the mail? I guess I did...can't be right, doesn't seem legal to me. Is it legal? Maybe, I don't know but it certainly isn't ethical.

7 people like this
Posted by [email protected]
a resident of Stoneridge
on Dec 25, 2019 at 2:53 pm

I did receive a Proposition M flyer in my mailbox, a day prior to Christmas day. A deceptive piece of content mailed at the time when people are most considerate and most generous. PUSD should not be asking money from Tax Payers repeatedly and should better learn to live within their means. If administrators of PUSD can not balance the School District budget, they should resign and leave the job to more astute and capable administrators.

3 people like this
Posted by Rob
a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 26, 2019 at 10:26 am

$600MM is a lot of dough. You could build 4 high schools

8 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Dec 26, 2019 at 11:05 am

James Michael is a registered user.

Rob...You're exaggerating, its only $593MM ;>) and always remember ITS NEVER ENOUGH.

4 people like this
Posted by Rob
a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 26, 2019 at 11:10 am

James Michael - Very true

2 people like this
Posted by Tina
a resident of Mission Park
on Dec 27, 2019 at 1:23 pm

I don't know why anyone is surprised. PUSD only asked for about half the money they needed, because they didn't believe we would pass a higher bond (and they very well may have been right). Money is needed for all the repairs needed for our schools. I don't agree with the district or the board very often, but I don't know where else they would get the funds except another bond.

3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 27, 2019 at 3:47 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Tina, I am not against another bond. I am against another bond now. They cannot do all these projects at the same time, which means they will collect and bank our money well before they need it.

JM, with predicted interest, it’s more like a total of nearly $1.2 Billion.

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