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Board to identify $8.7M in school cuts tonight

Original post made on Feb 11, 2009

While debate continues over a possible parcel tax, the school board must identify $8.7 million in reductions to maintain a balanced budget. Some items on the list of potential cuts are the elimination of class-size reduction, and reductions in the number of counselors and reading specialists.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 9:28 AM

Comments (15)

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Posted by Curious
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 11, 2009 at 9:55 am

Can someone provide an unbiased summary of how the meeting went last night? I have to work swing last night and wasn't able to attend or watch it on TV. Many thanks.

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Posted by unbiased
a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Feb 11, 2009 at 11:53 am

Last night was a show of union solidarity designed to intimidate school board and parents. Teachers overflowing the district office, giving one another high fives, they showed the teachers are still out of touch with what is happening to the rest of the world. They collectively stomped their feet and said they deserve more money not less. They seem to think that the parents of this community owe them more money and are being mean to them if anyone suggests we can’t afford it either. They won’t listen to the fact that everyone is taking pay cuts to avoid losing their jobs.

Last night demonstrated why parents must remain anonymous to protect our kids.

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Posted by Another Homeowner
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Feb 11, 2009 at 12:01 pm

It is obviously a difficult time for everyone, and it is pretty clear that those who have chosen education as their source of employment are now stunned to find themselves subject to the changing winds of our economic melt down. After all, this has rarely, if ever been the case in the past. The mantra of the business of education has always been get on the train and concentrate on your core job. If you make it past the first few years you are safe. You will never see either extreme end of the salary bell curve, but you will make a comfortable living and enjoy the union negotiated benefits of a managed health care plan and full retirement. You may argue amongst yourselves (politely please) where these two items fall on the curve, but this discussion usually digresses to a “grass is always greener” stalemate fairly quickly. The reality is (and I am in a position to know) that a career in education is neither a vow of poverty nor an entrepreneurial path to riches. It has however proven to be a steady path to an enriched life.

Now here is where the discomfort starts to intensify. Virtually everyone agrees that our government must spend in accordance with revenues, but no one seems to be able to stay elected and deliver a responsible plan for achieving this goal. In good times and bad our state and our nation has always managed to spend more than it generates. Of course the federal government owns a printing press, so they have a tool to alleviate their shortcomings, even if the currency is, in fact, nothing more than faith. The state does not have this option, and because of the extreme velocity of the financial crisis, it has few available actions other than starting to rapidly make adjustments to provided services. Passing a hasty tax to solve a miniscule portion of this problem will not do much to alleviate the ongoing discourse, but it will likely create another obligation that will never expire. Unfortunately funding derived from taxation becomes such a muddled mess that is becomes virtually impossible for the taxpaying public to decipher what they are paying for and, consequently, are backed into renewing any dated tax under the guise of averting the next service cut crisis.

The unfortunate fact is that some people are going to lose their jobs because of the current financial climate. Just as with the millions who are facing a similar fate in the private sector, whether this fate is deserved is not really a productive discussion. And while an additional property tax assessment would, optimistically, cover as much as 50% of the current proposed cuts, it would do little to solve the ongoing source of the dilemma and add additional burden to the community at a time when financial hardship abounds.

The School Board has stated that they have entered into contracts with the various unions and individuals that are employed by the Pleasanton Unified School District. And thus they are reticent to ask any contracted individual or group to reduce their own pay. And I agree with that. But the unfortunate truth is that a substantial dollar amount will be cut from the personnel budget. How many people those cuts affect is entirely in the hands of the employed group, as a whole.

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Posted by Curious
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 11, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Thanks for the comments but those aren't the unbiased summary I was looking for. Anyone else?

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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 11, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Sounds like you are really looking for a summary that meets your own biases. You appear to blow off the poster's well thought out post.

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Posted by Curious
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 11, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Not exactly, frank. I'm interesting in knowing whether they've identified the cuts. The postings above are excellent analysis/opinions. I'm just looking for some facts, thats all.

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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Curious, it's been almost a day now. All information shared last night is available online at the PUSD website.

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Posted by Disagree w/B
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Apparently I said something upsetting in making a point earlier. My sincere apologies.

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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2009 at 7:45 pm

An apology, on the Weekly blog? Now that's a first!

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Posted by Solution Women
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 11, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Has anyone asked this question. What is the percentage that every employee in PUSD would have to take to balance the budget? Maybe administrators take a higher percentage than teachers and teachers take a higher percentage than classified. The bottom line is, if we really want to keep all staff and quality programs, then someone needs to come up with these cost savings across the board, fair and equal. Come on PUSD board ask the question and give us the answers. Demand the answer and don't let these top administrators snowball you.

Figure it out both ways:
1. The same percentage cut for everyone
2. A sliding scale percentage cut depending on your job type.

Maybe if this were to occur the community may embrace a parcl tax later.

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Posted by Understand
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 11, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Its not really a big issue to balance the budget, yes, we would like to keep all the teachers and programs, but if there is no money, just cut programs (including sports) and lay off teachers and put more students into each class room. Of course its not good for education, but that's not really anyone's concern, from what I hear as far as high school is most students as well as parents are mostly concerned about their students getting good grades and into a "good" college and the learning part is really secondary.

So if no one really cares about learning and good education, just make the cuts necessary and move on. Those who are really concerned can pay for a private school education and leave the babysitting to the public schools.

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Posted by LooktoPrivateSector
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 16, 2009 at 7:19 pm

An out of control school expenses is what you get when unions are in control of education. They do not care about educational quality of the student. The leftist NEA is in control.

I am not that informed about Calif. school law because I refuse to put my kids into any public school in this State. However, if a successful private sector organization, like WalMart, were to radically reduce its budget, it would first shut down any site that had unions. (I know they don't even allow unions in the first place, however. A good move on their part.)

If it were possible in Calif, or Pleasanton in particular, fire all the unionized teachers (they may all be required to join unions for all I know) and rehire ones that are non-union. It is also what GM should have done to their all unions (or shut down plants) and then rehire only non-union employees.

Parents...dig deeper and send your kids to private school if this is possible.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 18, 2009 at 11:33 am

What many of you don't understand is that the California standards are NOT what they used to be several years ago! The standards have trickeled down through the grade levels. What used to be 4th grade standards are now 3rd grade standards. 1st grade standards are now K standards. Years ago, Kindergarteners were not expected to read by the time they they are! So, to those that say " kid was fine when we didn't have CSR...why do we need it now?" It is because your child was not expected to master these same high standards! There were other standards, yes, but not to the degree that the students must master now! Teachers are able to teach these more rigorous standards due to CSR. Please support the children...after all, one day they will be supporting us!

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Posted by Tim
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:03 pm

NO parcel tax.
"The teachers union and district administrators must look at the world around them and agree to a salary roll back that will save hundreds of jobs."

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Posted by Mother
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Feb 20, 2009 at 7:17 am

Many of you don't understand teacher's unions at all. They are a "bargaining team", so that districts don't have to negotiate the salaries of each and every employee. This saves districts money and the possibility of many issues most HR divisions have in the business world. More than anything, APT and the district administration work together to ensure fairness in the workplace. Parents would not want a new principal to come in and wipe out an existing staff and replace teachers with his or her friends. This happens in states without a union/management relationship. Education isn't like a business, yet many of you want to apply the rules of business to teachers. In "good" times, teachers do not receive bonuses, president club vacations, or other business perks. One of the assurances of devoting one's life to the education of others' children and earning positive evaluations each year is job security. Once upon a time, most Americans were treated with respect by their employers and could benefit on a secure career which was rewarded with a pension at the end. In the past two decades, corporations throw out employees about to reach pension, treat them with disrespect, and truly only focus on the bottom line... profit. I am sorry that this is happening in our society. I believe it creates the anger and resentment I hear throughout these threads.
Much of what you blame on unions: preps, staff development days, class size reduction, non-teacher workdays... have been implemented by the state or the district. PUSD teachers have not "fought, picketed, or struggled" to achieve these items. To say unions "don't care about children" is ridiculous especially when said along with "but I support the teachers". The Association of Pleasanton Teachers is just that "teachers" hoping that education will continue to improve in a state that ranks 47th in funding. California's politicians say they want a quality education, but frankly since the 80s they haven't wanted to fund it.

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