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School Budget Cuts - an alternative

Original post made by Simple Solution, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Jan 31, 2012

An idea:

There is going to be a huge impact on our schools because of school budget uncertainty in CA.

Current Proposed Reductions: 75 jobs lost for $5,356,148 in budget cuts.

A Different Proposal: 0 jobs lost or pink slipped in March. Virtually no cuts to kid's programs:

Agree to cut the school year by two weeks ONLY if the Nov taxes do not come through - 4.5 million, approx $400,000 donations via PPIE/PSEE (we received 446k from these two last year, this is realistic), car allowance reductions (as per district proposal) 64k, defer 50% OPEB contribution – 337k, reduce categorical programs using tier 3 flexibility – 50k = $5,351,000.

Let's work around the pink slips and the cuts to programs with last minute saves. It's hard on everyone and it would be good to have a year off from the fighting for favorite programs.


Comments (26)

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 31, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

The length of the school year is mandated by the state. The district can't just cut it without the state saying, "OK".

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Posted by Simple Solution
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Oh, you're right :( Things are never simple are they?

Looks like we can cut one week now. Another will probably be allowed given the comments made last year re. the trigger cuts but I guess this can't be counted on. So back to the cuts . . .

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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Even if you could cut one or two or three weeks, where is the academic/learning focus in that? Besides, it may save jobs, but it's still a cut in pay for teachers and classified staff, not so much for administrators and certainly not the district office.

If you start at the classroom and work toward the DO, what would you keep; what would you cut? And I think you have to answer those two questions separately for K-5, 5-8, and then 9-12.

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Posted by Not so Simple
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Simple for you, but maybe not to a teacher who you are asking to take another round of pay cuts on top of no cost of living raises for years even though health insurance is skyrocketing..
Why should teachers take a huge cut in pay and take on the added stress of teaching the state mandated curriculum with 10 less instructional days. Already, teachers have "supply" (graphics, paper, pencils, art supplies......) budget of $250.00 a year, so many of the supplies are purchased out of pocket or with the donations from parents.

These are things the state/federal government should do:
Stop mandatory testing in the lower grades-many experts see these test results as unreliable given the age of the children.
Only test in 3 grade levels like many states. Many states test fourth, eighth, and tenth graders.
Stop the grading of the writing sample from all fourth graders (hand scored and very expensive)
Stop sending costly consultants to schools thrown in program review because No Child Left's all nonsense. NCLB is just beginning to ruin our school district.
Give districts local control over their monies.
Lengthen the text adoption cycle from 7 to 10 years.
Disband County Offices of Education (another drain on local monies)
There are so many other ways, yet most of the suggestions from the community are only to cut pay and days off the school year.

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Posted by Simple Solution
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I hear you "not so simple". I think everything you raised would be great to change and helpful! I know how difficult it must be to teach this curriculum in this heavily regulated and tested environment that in my opinion does little to enhance real learning. These items will take time and political will though and won't be done in time for 2012/13.

I was just trying to think of a fix for next year that could be offered as an alternative to the proposed plan because 75 pink slips are due to go out in March. My husband was out of work for a year - it was really tough - and I feel for people who might lose their job. I honestly just wanted to help and appreciate the job you do.

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Posted by All for cuts
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Cut the 10 days. Classrooms waste at least 10 days each school year doing worthless cr** anyways. Teachers will just have to work hard to squeeze the mandated material into their timeline. And while you're at it, cut those cushy management jobs. Car expenses, gas allowances, new iPads, cell phones, assistants, STRS, etc. Don't let the district's whining fool you, there are lots of cuts which can be made without hurting the kids- the KIDS which should be everyone's top priority.

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Posted by Marie
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 31, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Just thinking outside the box: With the current state of the budget, shouldn't PUSD look at all mgmt positions that work more days than the school year and determine if that is absolutely necessary. Students and teachers are there 180 or so days yet many mgrs, asst supt, and the supt work more. Don't know what the balance should be, but options other than just looking at a couple days reduction for all should be considered.

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Posted by Newton
a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Feb 1, 2012 at 7:11 am

@ After cutting the ten days, "Teachers will just have to work hard to squeeze the mandated material into their timeline."

You're joking, right? When do union thug teachers ever work hard? They spend most of their time oozing their Stalinist glop about collectivist projects like turning students into Democrats. Ew, yuk. And yuck, too.

It's simple. Give us control over our community. Fire the union. Give control to the kids. Put the smarter ones in front of the classroom, and make the dumber ones do the janitorial work. And if the union refuses to go, we'll all home school our kids.

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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 1, 2012 at 8:08 am

All for Cuts: Cutting days of school is not a sound solution; it's just a threat from Sacramento to get more money. We are already behind as a nation in many subjects, let alone the length of the school year. I still don't understand why anyone believes that shortening the school year will eliminate parties, movies, and less than educationally sound field trips (Oakland Zoo comes to mind). There is a balance between making every school day count and engaging students in the environment where they are spending 30 waking (hopefully) hours a week. You know, all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.

And Newton (Mittens, etc.), could you try to contribute something constructive for a change? You seem smart enough to actually point out the flaws in cutting the school year.

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Posted by AnnaS
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 1, 2012 at 8:52 am

“Every nation has the government it deserves.”
I don't understand why taking control of our schools back to the community is not a constructive idea. Our school are better than others not because teacher unions send there better teachers, but because the community values good education more than other communities.
I, personally, instead of agreeing to pay more taxes, which will end-up in big pockets of Sacramento bureaucrats, will volunteer my time and/or will pay to the teachers of my choice, so they can teach, when school doesn't pay.
In Israel, people once did just that and, when unions realized that they may lose schools altogether, they stopped their strike.
If Sacramento will worry about losing their offices, they may decide to stop using our kids as hostages to make us pay more taxes.

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Posted by Newton
a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Feb 1, 2012 at 10:53 am

I like where AnnaS is coming from. This is a matter of cuts or constructive cuts, and I'm in favor of the ladder. We don't want Jack becoming a dull boy. Any historian will tell you that. History shows also that most kids will respond to janitorial tasks or leading in the classroom. Builds responsibility and leadership. Short of that, I'd much rather have AnnaS teaching my kids than some union creep. See for example Israel.

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Posted by Wish it was simple
a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Feb 1, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I wish it were that easy. I have been informed that there isn't even the week of the school year to cut. We have 180 of instructional days, plus five teacher work days so we don't have any room for just cutting the school year. Also, you cannot count on PPIE for the $400,000. PPIE's deadline for tax deductible donation collection for the 2012-2013 school year is this Sunday, February 5, and is far short of the money raised in prior years. The budget cuts this year amount to more than teachers losing their jobs. Class size is expected to increase, we are probably going to lose our counselors, library and technology support. I just wish our kids didn't have to suffer from the cuts.

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Posted by simple solution
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Wish it was simple - I think you're right that we have 180 days in Pleasanton, but I thought the state changed the requirement to 175 days a couple of years ago because of budget issues, so in Pleasanton we could cut a week.

I know some districts already have 175 days and they are publically talking about cutting more - though from what Stacey said the state hasn't approved this. So I think 175 must be legal now unless they're going back to 180?

Stacey, can you add your knowledge here? You seem to know more about this in the political arena and it would be good to get the facts right.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm

It is the governor who is suggesting cutting weeks off the school year. If Sacramento allows it, districts can choose to cut some or all of that time to meet their budgets. Some districts are already using furlough days to cover shortfalls.

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Posted by Paul
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Feb 1, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Whatever the case, we're going to have to cut something. No one wants to cough up additional tax money, and no one except suckers are going to pay into some voluntary fund. So its either cut or cut. That's the constructive way to go. Sometimes being constructive means being destructive. A famous Libertarian said that once I think.

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Posted by simple solution
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2012 at 9:40 am

Yes, we have to cut. But the question is what to cut. The great thing about the two weeks off solution is that it can easily be added back on if the Nov taxes pass.

If we cut sections in high schools and raise class sizes and cut sections in elementary on the assumption that the taxes won't pass, they will not be restored mid-year, so the kids will get hammered even if the taxes pass.

The way things are going I think some people would be glad to see some of these things gone and would not restore them first even if we had the money as they would use it in different ways (that do not benefit the kids) - it would all turn political and this is not what the majority of parents want.

It should not be too difficult to plan two calendars, one for if the taxes pass and one for if they don't.

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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 2, 2012 at 9:46 am

I remember a couple of months ago, the district said they needed $250,000 to improve their facilities. It was passed even though there were a lot of residents who did not feel it was necessary. Now you are talking of cutting teachers because of the budget. Let's cut the administration - how many are you thinking of cutting? The article only mentions teachers and administrative car allowances.

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Posted by simple solution
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2012 at 9:53 am

And by the way, I do agree with many posters that there are things further away from the classroom that could be cut.

However, with the timing we have, we could do with a solution that works with or without the taxes.

I disagree with your remarks about contributing to a voluntary fund. Strong foundations are vital to supporting schools in excellent school districts and most have them.

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Posted by simple solution
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2012 at 10:01 am

To concerned - the links to the programs / services proposed for cuts are on the front page of the PUSD website. It's not easy reading.

Proposed cuts are 75 jobs and programs including: Increased class sizes, fewer sections for high school, reduced reading specialists, reducing specialist sections in elementary(this means school will close early), eliminate bands and strings teachers, eliminating Barton, ending adult eduation, reducing summer school, reduced counseling, library and tech support at all levels, reduced custodial services, grounds services, district office support positions, health services, car allowance for managers, home schooling support. The list goes on. Have a look.

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Posted by SCUBAMom
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Feb 2, 2012 at 4:37 pm

I would not mind paying more taxes if it would help keep the teachers employed so that are classrooms don't turn into amphitheaters. I would not mind paying more taxes for school buses either; at least it would cut down on the traffic congestion. Anything we can do to make our kid's lives as normal as possible gets my vote.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm

simple solution,

where are you getting the information from? The new PW article that was just posted talks about cuts but does not mention some cuts you listed, and the PUSD website lists the cuts here:

Web Link

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Posted by ppie? lol
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Feb 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I was interested in finding out how much money has actually been donated to PPIE, and the link from the pusd website doesn't even work. What a joke. "Give us your money, but we don't even have a functioning link to help you do so." Also, there's no way any prop is going to pass or citizens will vote on an increased tax. Not is this current economy. The realization is PUSD better suck it up and make some tough cuts. It's reality.

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Yet another inaccurate and/or incomplete article being posted by the good old pleasanton weekly...

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Posted by long time parent
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Looks like the cut numbers includes previous cuts, listed again. Something they typically do to confuse people. Eliminate a position this year, and then also call that a cut next year. No different than the district getting $1M less this year, and then next year another $1M less but they report next year as $2M in cuts. Hum, sounds like how they worded the ballot statement for the last parcel tax. It is so hard to treat what the district says with any seriousness. I wish I could trust them but they make it so hard to do so.

Concerned, above, is right. The district knows things are real tight in finances but they chose to spend $250,000 in consultants to do a new facilities needs study, even before we know what kind of housing will be hitting the city since the state has not yet approved our new Housing Element. The District hires consultants that have a study that they will reference as the reason why then need extra taxes. The consultants are paid for by and led the administration and write reports that give the outcome the administration wants. They have to do this if they want to be hired by the district, or other districts, again.

I agree that the PIO should be let go ASAP. In fact, it should not have been filled previously when it became vacant. That was irresponsible. The administration knew finances would be tight for several years at least. I am sure if a citizen committee got together, and their task was to identify cuts in the district office, they could do it well, and eliminate cuts in the classrooms.

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Posted by simple solution
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Long time parent - these are ALL new cuts. None of the 75 jobs or over 5 million in programs have been cut previously.

Perhaps they don't want new arguments over the cuts discussed but not implemented last year so they're being presented as a done deal . . . However, the community was very against many of these cuts and some of the new suggestions are much better.

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Posted by Guy
a resident of California Reflections
on Feb 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Sitting in Tilly's today, it occurred to me that residents like SCUBAmom are exactly the problem. They're just all too willing to feed the beast, and the beast is the union. Unless we drive all the lefty union slackers out of town, we'll be forced to pay the piper from now until perpetuity. This town can't afford another set of taxes. After the most recent parcel taxes, everyone's tapped out. Think of your grandchildren, and their children, and their children after them. Do we want to saddle them with this humongous debt?

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