1. All Pleasanton students deserve a quality education that prepares them for college and a competitive job market.
2. The outstanding quality of our Pleasanton schools protects our property values.
3. Sacramento does a poor job of funding our schools and we cannot count on them to protect our students.
These simple yet important ideas are at the heart of Measure E.
To keep our schools among the best and protect our property values, Pleasanton schools need stable funding that cannot be taken away by the state. Measure E will provide stable and predictable funding to protect the most important core academic instructional programs and retain highly qualified teachers. It requires strict taxpayer protections to ensure that the funds are used for only these purposes.
I've heard several recurring myths that are easily dispelled. Before you cast your ballot, remember these important facts:
* Fact No. 1: Every penny goes to the classroom. The legally binding text of Measure E specifically prohibits funds from being spent on increased salaries and benefits for any school employee. Furthermore, Pleasanton Unified School District has no unfunded pension liability for its teachers, and local school employees already pay 100% of their medical and dental benefit costs.
* Fact No. 2: By law, Measure B bond dollars, which were approved by local voters 14 years ago, cannot be used for instructional programs. As required by law, these funds were used for facility improvements that have been completed on time and on budget. In fact, PUSD saved taxpayers millions by taking advantage of low interest rates and state matching dollars.
* Fact No. 3: This problem cannot be solved through cuts alone. PUSD has already reduced spending by $19.4 million by cutting programs, eliminating dozens of teachers and staff, negotiating salary and benefit concessions from employees, and freezing the salary schedule. Additional cuts will directly impact instructional programs and students.
* Fact No. 4: Measure E funds can only be spent for the purposes identified in the measure. Furthermore, annual audits and an independent citizens' oversight committee are mandatory.
* Fact No. 5: Each and every senior who feels the $98 annual cost of Measure E will be a financial burden may obtain an exemption by filing a one-time application. After the first year, no other forms or applications are required.
When you study the facts, Measure E presents stark alternatives.
We can vote to protect our outstanding local schools. Or we can watch ongoing state budget cuts eliminate the programs and services that make our schools among the best.
We can vote to keep our property values among the strongest in the region. Or we accept the risk that declining school quality will lead to declining home values.
We can vote to enhance local control of our schools and decrease the degree to which our schools depend on the politicians in Sacramento. Or we can sit back and hope that the Legislature will finally gets its act together.
The most respected organizations and leaders in our community, including the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, the Pleasanton Weekly, and the League of Women Voters, have taken a close look and proudly endorse Measure E.
I'm sure that when you take a close look for yourself, you'll join me in voting Yes on E.
Ken Mercer, a 42-year Pleasanton resident, has two children who graduated from Pleasanton schools and three grandchildren attending Pleasanton schools. He is a former City Councilman and was the first elected mayor in Pleasanton, serving 16 years.