Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - March 25, 2011

City Hall, school district share issues, opportunities

The Pleasanton City Council and Pleasanton school board will hold their annual joint meeting Monday to discuss issues of joint interest, and there are many. Budgets for fiscal year 2011-12 will be one of them. While cities and school districts face concerns over the state's growing budget deficit, schools so far are taking the brunt of the shortfall. Limits on state aid to education and the threat of deep cuts in the coming months unless Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax extensions are approved will affect Pleasanton even if voters approve Measure E, a proposed $98 a year parcel tax that goes to voters in a mail-in ballot starting April 4.

So far, the city government is in much better shape. Finance Director Emily Wagner will report Monday that Pleasanton's operating budget is balanced for each of the next two fiscal years thanks both to reduced spending and now a slight uptick in sales taxes, one of the city's primary revenue sources. There are ways the city might help the school district to offset its budget woes, such as grounds maintenance and with some services. These possibilities deserve consideration at Monday's meeting.

The two agencies also will look at future school needs. Pleasanton has just approved rezoning land in Hacienda Business Park for another 850 housing units as part of its obligation to meet state requirements for additional low- to middle-income units. With 3,000 units on the state's mandatory housing unit list for Pleasanton in the next few years, both the city and school district need to look at how many school-age children might move into these units and how and where they will be educated. Hacienda, where many of the additional units will likely be located, has no elementary school. Long-range plans may call for moving the school site once intended for Vineyard Avenue near Ruby Hill to Hacienda to accommodate future growth.

Even though these joint meetings are held just once a year, a city-school liaison committee meets monthly. This keeps both taxing districts connected on ongoing issues and opportunities, which has given Pleasanton city-financed gymnasiums at all three middle schools, new soccer fields at Donlon Elementary and a city-financed restoration of the Amador Theater, which is available to the drama groups at both Foothill and Amador Valley high schools. Pleasanton is fortunate in having a unified school district whose boundaries are roughly the same as the city's, making joint City Council-school district meetings such as the one Monday both possible and productive.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the school district's board room.

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