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"Dirty Politics in a Community of Character"

Original post made by Liz, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2009

"Dirty Politics in a Community of Character"


The superintendent of Pleasanton's public schools was caught last month using district resources to campaign for Measure G, the school parcel tax. In a memo sent to employees, then distributed through district E-Connect to parents, dated March 24th, Dr. John Casey responds to a document that has been circulating the community. The document details why a parcel tax is unnecessary. According to Casey's memo, the District felt compelled to address misstatements of facts.

While Superintendent Casey's document stopped short of explicitly urging a 'Yes' vote on Measure G it is clear that the style, tenor and timing of his document was designed primarily for the purpose of influencing the voters on the upcoming parcel tax election.


State Education Code, Section 7054:
(a) No school district funds, services, supplies, or equipment shall be used for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot.

" The Attorney General concluded that although it did not explicitly urge a 'Yes' vote the style, tenor and timing of the document placed by the board of trustees points plainly to the conclusion that the publication was designed primarily for the purpose of influencing the voters at the forthcoming school bond election.' (35 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 112, 114.)"


Comments (46)

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Posted by John Adams
a resident of Amador Estates
on Apr 3, 2009 at 10:33 am

I'm shocked and horrified!!


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Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 3, 2009 at 10:51 am

I am also horrified but not at all surprised. What is even worse in my book is that Jeb Bing has come out in ardent support of the parcel tax and his wife is one whose job could be saved by that. He owed the public a full disclosure of that. He has no business making any comments -- for or against the tax -- as he is NOT a disinterested third party. Gina Chanell-Allen I would love to hear your comments about this. Of course, you must be a registered used as Jeb will be shutting down this thread momentarily.
RECUSE YOURSELF JEB, DO THE RIGHT THING


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 3, 2009 at 10:57 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Isn't it the job of the Yes people/Save Pleasanton Schools to address "misstatements of facts" in what amounts to campaign literature? I can't imagine the repercussions if the City issued memos to employees addressing misstatements of facts over referendums or other initiatives, etc.!


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Posted by Parent of Two
a resident of Val Vista
on Apr 3, 2009 at 11:16 am

Parent of Two is a registered user.

All too predictable. In this day where the media can elect an unqualified president by acclamation, journalistic standards and political ethics are pushed aside in favor of nepotism and corruption.

Of course, if anyone against the parcel tax speaks out (see ex-board member Kathleen's post), they are attacked and censored and their background is immediately investigated.

Dirty politics, indeed.


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Posted by djohns
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 3, 2009 at 11:17 am

djohns is a registered user.


I received Superintendent Casey's campaign letter from three PUSD school sites.

Ironically John Casey acknowledged that the first statement in the document was true. Every one of his rebuttal statements is disputable but no one else will be given the use of the district e-connection communication system to disseminate a response to his statements.
That is exactly why this is illegal campaign activity.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 3, 2009 at 11:24 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I wonder if the Board is going to allow the distribution of more campaign literature that clarifies "misstatements of facts" coming from the Yes side.


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Posted by Sensibly Save Our Schools
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 3, 2009 at 11:32 am

Sensibly Save Our Schools is a registered user.

As predicted, Jeb Bing has immediately shut down this thread to discourage open and free discussion and limited it to registered users.
Please check out the publisher's blog and PW President Gina Channell-Allen's post "Shall We Trample the Rose Because of the Thorns?" Here's an excerpt:

"But it defeats the purpose of an open forum to make everyone register in order to post. Not only does it take away the anonymity some find protective, it doesn't guarantee immunity from "identity theft."

Both Mr. Bing and Dr. Casey are demonstrating that talking the talk about being a community of character isn't the same thing as walking the walk.

Dr. Casey is flaunting the law; Jeb Bing is flaunting the directive of his own publisher.




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Posted by djohns
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 3, 2009 at 11:53 am

djohns is a registered user.

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as redundant by same poster.)


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 3, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Russell is a registered user.

I wonder if some of these posts are coming from kids who want less homework? No new tax means less homework. Bigger classes means they can get away with more mischief.

Kids -- you need to get back to work and stop spending so much time playing on the computer. We parents want you to get an education so that you can be responsible citizens. Leave the grown up stuff to us. You'll thank us later.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 3, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

It is interesting that other posters are attacked as being children instead of the issue of the topic. Reminds me of the post on Kathleen Ruegsegger. It makes one wonder who is behaving like children.


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 3, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Russell is a registered user.

I'm not saying everyone here posting here is a child, but reading all those "Boston Tea Party" posts, I have to conclude some of the are. I'll bet plenty of those posters don't even live in Pleasanton. Some just believe all taxes are bad. Others probably are just adolescents with too much time on their hands. My post was addressed to the adolescents.

I'd be happy to debate the issues. Is anyone here doing that?

"Dr. Casey is flaunting the law; Jeb Bing is flaunting the directive of his own publisher."

Hmm...


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Posted by Kathleen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 3, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Kathleen is a registered user.

Hi Russell, I'm out here with my perspective. I won't post it again here, it will just get deleted. One is "Kingdom" other was "Open Response." The latter was shut down to the unregistered rather quickly. Join in where you have interest.


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Posted by djohns
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 3, 2009 at 10:51 pm

djohns is a registered user.

PW Editor,
The post that you deleted was a corrected post not redundant. I welcome you to delete the first one.


I received Superintendent Casey's campaign letter from three PUSD school sites.

Ironically John Casey acknowledged that the first statement in the document was true. The statement which Superintendent acknowleged as true is, "It is possible to balance the school's budget without imposing a parcel tax on Pleasanton homeowners.'

Every one of his rebuttal statements is disputable but no one else will be given the use of the district e-connection communication system to disseminate a response to his statements.

That is exactly why this is illegal campaign activity.


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Posted by Grace
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Apr 3, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Grace is a registered user.

Not agreeing and not disagreeing with the statement, but just correcting the word that was used:

"Dr. Casey is flaunting the law; Jeb Bing is flaunting the directive of his own publisher"

the word the original poster intended is "flouted", I believe.

flaunted : 1. To parade oneself ostentatiously; show oneself off.

flouted : To show contempt for; scorn: flout a law; behavior that flouted convention


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Posted by Sensibly Save Our Schools
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 4, 2009 at 6:50 am

Sensibly Save Our Schools is a registered user.

Thanks Grace for the word correction. You're right, I meant to say flouted! I appreciate the correction.
Have a great weekend.


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Posted by getsomesense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2009 at 10:01 pm

getsomesense is a registered user.

I am horrified that you morons are horrified. Dr. Casey is responsible for defending the district and clarifying points of FACT. He clarified issues, and you admit yourself that he did not urge a "yes" vote. You are outraged because he is clearing the air of your smoke and mirrors, not to mention your outright lies aimed at defeating the measure - that is the only reason you idiots are "horrified" by his response. Get a life.


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Posted by kathleen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 4, 2009 at 10:23 pm

kathleen is a registered user.

Getsomesense: Morons? This is interesting, anti-tax equals morons. This is the best you have? Dr. Casey isn't clarifying points of fact. He is defending his actions. Reserves were spent. The plan for bigger reserves (a goal of the board) was abandoned in favor of some good things and some very poor strategy. Those who oppose the tax will continue to point to the facts with real data. I would hope that you can do the same.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Apr 5, 2009 at 12:00 am

Sandy is a registered user.

Getsomesense, I find your name-calling objectionable. Kathleen, I agree that the tenor of argument the other commentor is using is not persuasive.

Liz --

What were you quoting in the original blog when you wrote the following?

" The Attorney General concluded that although it did not explicitly urge a 'Yes' vote the style, tenor and timing of the document placed by the board of trustees points plainly to the conclusion that the publication was designed primarily for the purpose of influencing the voters at the forthcoming school bond election.' (35 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 112, 114.)"

How could the Attorney General have already ruled on Superintendent Casey's action? I believe you must be quoting something about a different case, from a previous election, and not from Pleasanton.

I would like to know what document Superintendent Casey was writing in response to. Perhaps the Weekly will write an article about that. Delicate waters to report on without taking a side in the debate... but it would be useful to know what "they" said before Casey issued his clarification of facts.


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Posted by Get educated!
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 5, 2009 at 1:44 am

Get educated! is a registered user.

djohns stated: "Ironically John Casey acknowledged that the first statement in the document was true. The statement which Superintendent acknowledged as true is, "It is possible to balance the school's budget without imposing a parcel tax on Pleasanton homeowners."

Ironically djohns when you posted that comment, you left out the rest of the statement. He continued that sentence with: "The District is required by law to have a balanced budget every year. The Board will approve a balanced budget for 2009/2010, but with the reduced funding from the state that is projected at this time, that budget will be balanced only with significant cuts in programs and personnel"

You point out a very important fact. Yes, it is possible to balance the budget without a parcel tax, but there will be significant cuts to the programs that have made PUSD one of the most successful in the state.

PUSD has always presented a balanced budget. Last year, when all the surrounding communities were passing parcel taxes, they kept millions of dollars of state cuts away from the classroom and the taxpayers by using the reserves they had conservatively planned for and were still able to deliver a balanced budget.

The need for a parcel tax has come because of the $9 million in cuts from the State. I would like to point out the need to stay focused on this issue. Because of this lack of funding, programs and personnel will have to be cut. This cut will have a detrimental effect on the schools and the students receiving services. These are facts that cannot be contested.

Unfortunately, this is the reality of school districts all over the state. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to support our schools in Pleasanton by passing Measure G, enabling them to function at the level of excellence we are accustomed to.

Yes on Measure G!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 5, 2009 at 8:08 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Get Educated,

I haven't seen the document referred to, but I'm confused by one thing. If Casey's memo is meant to address misstatements of fact, why is he saying a statement is true and then adding spin? Casey says that the budget "will be balanced only with significant cuts" and then leaves out what those are. As I understand, there have been alternate suggestions of how to balance the budget while keeping those significant cuts away from the children, yet with the parcel tax in mind everyone assumes Casey is talking about the programs and personnel in the parcel tax list. It looks like the district is walking a fine line with regard to whether they are campaigning or not. If they truly are interested in "addressing misstatements of facts" then why does the Budget FAQ still hide the pea with regards to the money the district spent on the FHS solar panels or play games with ADA revenue limit versus total per pupil spending when comparing money received/spent with surrounding districts?

Again, like I wrote above, imagine if the City had put up FAQs on their website for elections like we just had last year with Measure PP or Measure QQ with the purpose of "addressing misstatements of fact" while deftly avoiding saying "vote yes". No one would have stood for it! Why is the district allowed to do this?


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Posted by Gina Channell-Allen
president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Apr 5, 2009 at 9:21 am

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

Sorry I missed all the fun yesterday; I was out of town with one of my children this weekend.

I have researched the argument and the post Jeb hid from public view because it was a redundant post by the same commenter. Indeed, it was redundant and the commenter sent me an email stating the following: "I posted a reply on one thread which I then later flagged to be removed… So it was me that edited my own post. I'm sorry if this creates any confusion for you, but wanted you to know if anyone complains about my own editing!"

One commenter early yesterday wanted to know my view on this: First, the views in the Pleasanton Weekly's editorials on the opinion page are the views of the newspaper editorial staff, not just Jeb's. The editorial staff is comprised of four individuals, myself included; Janet, Emily and I have no ties to any employee in the PUSD.

Second, it was an editorial staff decision to restrict comments on threads related to the parcel tax to registered users only. The reason for this is quite simple: There are four members of the editorial staff and, quite honestly, we have lives outside of monitoring these posts. Some of the comments that we have removed were absolutely uncalled for – naming specific people, including teachers, statements not backed by facts(for and against the tax), mean-spirited comments that had no bearing on the topic, etc. See our terms of use: Web Link

We felt that if people registered they would maybe, just maybe, think twice about what they were posting.

Please note, these threads were not closed, but restricted to registered users, and registered users can keep their anonymity. They do not have to put their name on the post.

We do want to have healthy discussions about this tax. This forum is for dissemination of information as well as opinion. However, we have to maintain a civilized conversation.


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Posted by Sensibly Save Our Schools
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 5, 2009 at 11:25 am

Sensibly Save Our Schools is a registered user.

Dear Ms. Channell-Allen,
I asked you to remove a post that was in response to a post by "Optimistic." The reason I asked you to remove my post was because I was so thrilled that on another thread "Optimistic" engaged in a thoughtful discussion with me. I wanted to encourage an open, non-confrontational discussion because I believe that's what is necessary. While the post I asked to be removed was not vulgar, contained obscenities or any of the kind of language which would justify its removal, I felt the tone responded in kind to Optimistic's tone on earlier posts. I much prefer having a civilized discussion, and if anyone is willing to meet me half way, I am delighted and completely willing to move forward rather than dwelling on earlier comments.

My request had nothing to do with Jeb Bing, although I do continue to believe that disclosing his relationship with PUSD should have been done. By now, I'm assuming you have seen the response Bill Johnson of Embarcadero Publishing sent me regarding this issue, in which he also agrees that Mr. Bing should have made this disclosure.

Might I suggest that rather than requiring posters to register for topics pertaining only to the parcel tax issue, PW consider requiring registration on all topics. While initially this might reduce comments (something you have yourself noted can be an issue when requiring registration), in time I think everyone will grow accustomed to registering and PW will no longer have to address concerns about picking and choosing which topics restrict discussion to registered users only.

Thank you for taking the time to respond, and I hope you enjoyed your weekend with your child.


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Posted by getsomesense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2009 at 11:59 am

getsomesense is a registered user.

Kathleen: I noticed your original poster (Liz) did not include ANY facts in their post, nor did you, so I'm not sure what facts you are pretending to stand behind. Instead, the original poster whined about Dr. Casey's approach and method of delivery. I'm not surprised, because this is a common tactic used by those on the losing side of a case. Defense attorneys use it all the time when they know their client is guilty. Rather than debating the issues and examining the evidence, they to stir up support based on inaccurate information and emotion rather than fact or logic. So instead of refuting or responding to anything Dr. Casey wrote, Liz chose to dispute and complain about his method of delivery. Is that the best YOU have?? (By the way, YOU are the one who associated "anti-tax" with "morons", not me. I was referring those who fall for the tactic used by Liz, not necessarily everyone opposed to the tax.)


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 5, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

getsomesense wrote: "Rather than debating the issues and examining the evidence, they to stir up support based on inaccurate information and emotion rather than fact or logic."

Wow! That sounds exactly like PUSD and Save Pleasanton Schools!


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Posted by getsomesense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2009 at 1:31 pm

getsomesense is a registered user.

Stacey: Please explain how what I wrote "sounds exactly like PUSD and Save Pleasanton Schools" and please provide examples. Dr. Casey's letter explains how and why the assertions that he addressed are inaccurate. It seems you don't have anything worthwhile to say, much less anything to support it. You're just busy stirring the pot.


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Posted by getsomesense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2009 at 1:45 pm

getsomesense is a registered user.

Stacey: If you haven't seen the document, why are you commenting on it? In fact, you are the victim of "spin" because your comments are based on half a quote, which failed to indicate that the state requires a balanced budget, regardless of size. I would love to see a proposal that makes $9.7 million in cuts "while keeping those significant cuts away from the children". However, until I do, I will consider that a loose assertion not based on any sort of realistic plan. The fact is that teacher jobs will be lost and programs will be cut next year EVEN WITH THE PARCEL TAX. How many jobs? How many programs? How much will it affect the children? The answers to these questions depend on the parcel tax.

Sandy: If I think someone is being a moron, I'll say so. I don't care if you find it objectionable.


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Posted by Kathleen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 5, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Kathleen is a registered user.

Let me start again. There is reference to the district acting responsibly and balancing its budget (BTW they had a qualified first interim because they can't balance it).

First, they are required to balance the budget--so there are no medals there. Facts (and I'm minimizing what I've said on other threads) include and will be added to over time: three years of large raises (about $14.5 million), having insufficient reserves, abandoning the goal for a 7% reserve (I've been told by a board member that would have been $3.5 million) that could get the district through its current issues allowing enough time for the community to dig deeper into the budget and to find solutions, having no money set aside for economic uncertainty, $2.1 million coming from the federal government, proposals made by a board member for cuts that kept CSR, choosing an election date (June 2) at nearly twice the cost of the May election, just two weeks difference (and we could discuss why this was done), and asking for money from taxpayers before the 09-10 budget is finalized (June 30).

You implied or I inferred, its just not language either of us need to use.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Apr 5, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Sandy is a registered user.

Liz, are you out there? I'm still hoping you'll answer my question, about the source of your quote at the very top of this conversation.

(35 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 112, 114.)

Did that have anything to do with Pleasanton? Or was it a completely different campaign in a different part of California?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 5, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

getsomesense wrote: "If you haven't seen the document, why are you commenting on it?"

Purely on principle! I'll repeat that principle a third time. I'd be upset if the City started putting FAQs that lack transparency up on their website or issuing memos in support of a political campaign. Why is this any different?


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Posted by Get educated!
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 5, 2009 at 11:52 pm

Get educated! is a registered user.

"Posted by Kathleen, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, 4 hours ago
Kathleen is a member (registered user) of Pleasanton Weekly

Let me start again. There is reference to the district acting responsibly and balancing its budget (BTW they had a qualified first interim because they can't balance it).

First, they are required to balance the budget--so there are no medals there…"

Actually Kathleen this is where I disagree with you. Since I believe you were responding to my comment, I would like to point out that for the past two years there have been millions of cuts to education. Many districts across the state, unable to balance their budgets due to a lack of reserves and prudent fiscal planning, were required to have the State intervene. Not only has our current administration avoided that by presenting a balanced budget every year, they also diverted the cuts from the students (reading specialists were saved) and from taxpayers. (Resulting in no parcel tax while many neighboring districts voted for one) A reason to trust the district, given the past record.

Given your current position in PAUSD, I am sure you are aware of the deadlines required for placing a measure on a ballot for an election. You stated:

"abandoning the goal for a 7% reserve (I've been told by a board member that would have been $3.5 million) that could get the district through its current issues allowing enough time for the community to dig deeper into the budget and to find solutions"

This would not be feasible since $9 million in cuts need to take place over this school year and the next one. Under the currently proposed $ amount it would be irresponsible of the district and board to not plan for reductions in programs and personnel. They are after all required to present a balanced budget. This reduction requires notification to personnel in a certain time period. Waiting for an election in November would result in many teachers losing their jobs and classrooms being adversely impacted starting in August.

Putting a parcel tax on the ballot was an effort to lessen the impact of these cuts and it needed to be done by a certain date.

I am curious to hear your opinions on the benefits of working with a stable source of revenue for the Palo Alto School District, since it is currently implementing a $493 parcel tax "to pay higher salaries and to maintain current programs and targeted class size reduction." Web Link


Your experience in this area would be helpful to the community rather than just reading the many complaints posted here.


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Posted by Kathleen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 6, 2009 at 7:38 am

Kathleen is a registered user.

When you speak of state intervention, are you speaking about districts like Oakland? State intervention is an extreme and for the worst cases of not managing taxpayer dollars. I would hope that Pleasanton isn't headed in that direction.

We actually don't know that $9 million in cuts have to occur, nor do we know the final budget, nor will we know that answer until after we vote, nor do we have any reason to trust the district based on the current administration's record. I have pointed out that three years of high raises, spending from current reserves, and not putting anything in the budget's fund "Designated for Economic Uncertainties" is the crux of the district's problems today. The state budget complicates things, but it did not cause the real problem.

Of course I understand the deadlines for a parcel tax, but if the district already cut $2 million last year, where was the planning to put a tax in front of the community last May or June or November? I would say it's because they continued to believe there was no need to plan and now they find themselves in a possible crunch. It's a little too convenient that the community feels this tax is the only answer. The campaign for Measure G is more like a chicken little, "the sky is falling" rush to the booth. As others have mentioned, Valerie Arkin presented a plan that would have saved teachers' jobs and it was ignored. Also ignored were previous lessons from the last conversations about a parcel tax and the survey that indicated there was insufficient support for it.

I am not against a parcel tax, I am against THIS parcel tax. Palo Alto has very large reserves, and during the years PUSD was giving 4, 5, and 6 percent raises, PA was giving 0, 1, or 2 percent, cutting millions, and tapping a healthy reserve. PA, by the way, is buying class size reduction K-5. You can find that even PA voted down a renewed and increased ($520ish) parcel tax (the wrong amount, the wrong number of years) BEFORE it passed the renewed and increased $493 parcel tax. Both times, a specific list of what the money would be used for was provided to the community.

Trust is earned. The current administration has counted on that trust and squandered it along with taxpayer dollars. One shouldn't trust an administration that chooses a date two weeks after a state election "to give the community time to be educated" at twice the cost; one shouldn't trust an administration that believes using that date will lower the turnout or possibly confuse some voters to increase the chances for a win (particularly in a community that is about 50% absentee voters who can vote from home); one shouldn't trust an administration that sends pink slips to more employees than is necessary to create anxiety (and this is believed by staff members whether they received the pink slip or not). I could add other practices (administrative raises before the budget problem was announced, campaign literature sent via email, the lack of a survey for this tax), but this is long enough.

I don't know if this is so much about experience as it is about a willingness to respond and to find the answers I don't have readily available.


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Posted by Get educated!
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Get educated! is a registered user.

Kathleen writes:
" We actually don't know that $9 million in cuts have to occur, nor do we know the final budget, nor will we know that answer until after we vote, nor do we have any reason to trust the district based on the current administration's record. I have pointed out that three years of high raises, spending from current reserves, and not putting anything in the budget's fund "Designated for Economic Uncertainties" is the crux of the district's problems today. The state budget complicates things, but it did not cause the real problem."

You are continuing to post misinformation and then your accusing PUSD of not "earning trust".

You are right; we don't know the extent of the budget cuts. As quoted from the Valley times "Though much of the state budget remains undecided, school officials say they must prepare for a worst-case scenario." The May election may prove to bring even larger cuts to education. I agree, it is important to know the final impact of the cuts before voting on a parcel tax, hence the reason to wait for the June date, as many in the community asked for. Actually, you implied the same thing yourself in the quote above. Being fiscally responsible, PUSD prepared for this "worst case scenario" by giving time sensitive notification of employee layoffs. Without planning ahead for cuts, and the possibility of the parcel tax failing, the district would not be able to present a balanced budget. On one hand you say they are not planning ahead and then you state they are sending pink slips to more people than necessary. I say, if they didn't plan for the worst case scenario, and thinking a tax would pass, this would be highly irresponsible and a financial disaster.

You stated "Of course I understand the deadlines for a parcel tax, but if the district already cut $2 million last year, where was the planning to put a tax in front of the community last May or June or November? I would say it's because they continued to believe there was no need to plan and now they find themselves in a possible crunch."
I guess you were not closely following the issue when the district was handling it responsibly and not asking anything of the community. Web Link and be sure to read the response to this article Web Link
This was over a year ago. As you well know, the budget is ever-changing, yet PUSD communicated this with the community in January of 2008. The idea of a parcel tax in Pleasanton is not the "possible crunch" you responded to me about.
Valerie Arkin did propose ideas to save teacher's jobs. Many of her ideas are currently being implemented in order to continue running the schools amidst this year's cuts. Her ideas would only cover this current school year, she even told the Independent April 2, " the prospect for next year and probably beyond is so gloomy, that a parcel tax will be needed"

By posting responses as "facts" that are not true, you are aiding in this distrust of the district many people claim they have. Another misrepresentation of the facts, you state:
"Palo Alto has very large reserves, and during the years PUSD was giving 4, 5, and 6 percent raises, PA was giving 0, 1, or 2 percent, cutting millions, and tapping a healthy reserve."

This is not true. In 2007/08, the certificated unit negotiated a 0.738 % lower COLA in order to help fund $500,000 towards elementary science prep periods. In 2008/09 the COLA was increased by 0%. I can see how Palo Alto was able to do this since on the district website it states "On June 7, 2005, voters approved a Measure A Parcel Tax assessment of $493 per parcel for six years. Parcel Tax funds allow Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) to pay higher salaries and to maintain current programs and targeted class size reduction."

Your right Kathleen, trust is earned. By originally posting as a former member of the school board, you are using that position to give credibility to your postings. By posting erroneous information designated to insight doubt in voter's minds, you are not showing your facts deserve to be trusted. This is a great example of the "transparency" that anti-tax posters are writing about.

When facts are presented by those concerned about the severe budget cuts coming from the State level, the issue of "trusting the district" is raised. By stating false information and half truths to fit your position, you are a big part of the distrust you speak of.

I urge you to stick to the issue, which is how to save our district from the worse cuts to education in California's history. Just read the paper, Web Link this is not an issue that PUSD is inflating or making up.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 6, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's the COLA raises PUSD gave out:
Certificated/Classified/Management

2005/06 4.60% 4.6 % 4.6 %
2006/07 5.73% 5.73 % 5.73 %
2007/08 3.382%* 4.12 % 4.12 %

The * is caused by the $500K used to fund the science prep period.

Here's the COLA for those years given by the State according to LAO Web Link:

05-06 4.2%
06-07 5.9%
07-08 4.5%

And that's not even including step and column raises. I'm still not understanding how they gave out a COLA in 05/06 that was above State COLA.


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Posted by Get educated!
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 6, 2009 at 8:38 pm

Get educated! is a registered user.

And when in the midst of devastating cuts to the public schools coming from the State this year, you left one fact off:

2008/2009 COLA increases 0% 0% 0%

Sometimes it is what you don't say that causes distrust of the district.


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Posted by Kathleen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 6, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Kathleen is a registered user.

I'm not going to repeat everything I have posted to support these facts. And more facts are being sought.
• Fact: we don't know that $9 million in cuts have to occur—you later agree but state it could be worse, but it's also just as possible a parcel tax isn't needed.
• Fact: three years of large raises were given without regard for the future. The raises, 4-6%, are provided on the district's web site Web Link.
• Fact: No money was placed in the budget for economic uncertainty.
• Fact: Reserves were spent down.
• Fact: The goal of a 7% reserve was abandoned (see the second fact).
• Fact: The June 2 election seeks to impose a parcel tax before the district's budget is finalized.
• Fact: The June 2 election is costing taxpayers twice what the May election would cost.

You state: "I guess you were not closely following the issue when the district was handling it responsibly and not asking anything of the community."

From you first web link you provide, a PW editorial: "With enrollment projections stable through 2017, Casey has positioned the district to handle the state's budget crunch this year without the layoffs and program cutbacks neighboring district are considering." I won't count this editorial as fact given what was posted earlier today and pulled down for its inaccuracies and other blunders, but if the district is doing its planning solely on more enrollment, heaven help us.

From the second link web link you provide, Dr. Casey writes: "The numbers project a slight increase in elementary enrollment, and the Board still believes that Neal School is needed if we are housing more than 6,000 students in grades K through 5 and if an agreement can be reached about construction financing." I'll let that stand on its own.

"Over a year ago . . ." most districts try to project at least five years out, and again, plan for economic uncertainty. I believe I was saying the possible crunch is here and the only solution put forward is a parcel tax. That is not planning.

I will give Ms. Arkin space on the quote you provide because she is in no way responsible for the time prior to her election. And you are using the ideas of someone who has been on the Board for four months . . . no one came up with these ideas before she was elected?
You quote from my response: "Palo Alto has very large reserves, and during the years PUSD was giving 4, 5, and 6 percent raises, PA was giving 0, 1, or 2 percent, cutting millions, and tapping a healthy reserve." And respond: "This is not true." It is true, see above link to Pleasanton district FAQs.

You keep bringing up Palo Alto and skipping the list of what would be provided. In their case, the district indicated maintaining the raises given with the first parcel tax, and it was stated then that it was to attract and retain the best teachers. PA had the foresight to speak to the community and pass a parcel tax in 2001, eight years ago. Go to this link Web Link The third item listed is a pdf of what the $493 funds.

I don't think I could post as me and not mention my history. People will look at what I (or you) have to say and will make their own judgment call. I have not knowingly posted erroneous information. The doubt, if planted, will be because information about what the district administration has done is provided accurately.

I have been very transparent. When someone posted a new thread about me asking questions of a personal nature, I responded. When Jeb posted erroneous information about my background, I responded (editorial was taken down). I will continue to respond and provide the best information available to me. I'm starting to think posts like yours are cropping up because I'm hitting a little too close to home. Time will tell.

You continue to miss the point that the district has not acted responsibly in the last seven years. This community deserves better than this rush to the booth to cover its backside. Valuable resources were handled without fiscal care, valuable time was lost in not learning the lessons from the last process for a tax, and valuable resources and time are being wasted on this election rather than offering more than one option for solving the problems the district created.

I wrote this before I saw your latest comment. Zero percent this year is unfortunate. I have said before that smaller raises prior to this would have still given staff a decent increase and and enabled the district to put sufficient funds aside for now.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 6, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Yes, 0% negotiated raises yet step and column is still on the plan.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Apr 7, 2009 at 5:30 am

Sandy is a registered user.

Liz, are you out there? I'm still hoping you'll answer my question, about the source of your quote at the very top of this conversation.

(35 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 112, 114.)

Did that have anything to do with Pleasanton? Or was it a completely different campaign in a different part of California?

I am suspicious that again, something presented as fact may actually contain a good measure of interpretation. For those who believe that Superintendent Casey's communication was inappropriate -- have any of you actually asked the board to admonish him? Given your concerns, wouldn't that be the first step toward re-establishing his accountability toward the board?

And just to be clear, I'm still not convinced that his communication was inappropriate. I have gathered the same facts that opponents have presented on these forums. I simply interpret those facts differently. I continue to support measure G, and to defend the rights of opponents of the measure to speak out about their concerns.


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Russell is a registered user.

To Kathleen.

Do you think Pleasanton schools are better, worse, or equal to other schools?

I believe they are far better both objectively as measured by test scores, college placement numbers, and subjectively; My child appears to be getting an education comparable to many expensive private schools.

Are you saying it isn't true? Do you think Pleasanton schools aren't any better than those in other districts? Are they worse? Does it matter to you?

Pleasanton schools have earned my trust. I want the parcel tax to pass because passing it rewards excellence.

Are you at all worried that your children's education may suffer if the parcel tax does not pass?


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Posted by Parent of Two
a resident of Val Vista
on Apr 7, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Parent of Two is a registered user.

Russell, Do you honestly think the parcel tax "rewards excellence"? Or does it reward political expediency and fiscal irresponsibility?

Put it this way, let's say your kid has a job, and wastes his money on candy, soda, and video games. Then, his hours get cut at work, reducing his income. Would you encourage him to cut back on some of the expenditures, or at least to analyze possible areas for savings?Or would you immediately make up the difference out of your own pocket without demanding a careful accounting?

p.s. Pleasanton schools and students are excellent. And sometimes, just sometimes, the parents should take some of the credit.


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Posted by Kathleen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Kathleen is a registered user.

Hi Russell, They're on a par with some good schools overall. Many of the schools are excellent based on the measurements you mention. The conversation about why they are good or great is broad (education levels or parents, involvement of parents, teachers, school culture, principals, opportunities, outside experiences).

Certainly the schools matter to me, but the debate isn't about the schools; it's about what is happening at the district office with taxpayer dollars. So while the schools may have earned your trust (and mine), for me those making the decisions have not. Their actions have placed great schools and their students in peril. There is no excellence in that.

You may have missed that my children are grown, but I have a grandchild in the schools. I am concerned (not panicked) about what will happen in the classroom. IF class size reduction is cut, I have faith in the teachers and the parents who will volunteer, raise funds, and do what I did as a mother more years ago than I like to recall when there was no CSR. I will not reward, however, the mismanagement of tax dollars with more money any more than a teacher would reward mismanagement of a class assignment with an A.

I also believe the district will find an alternative to cutting CSR (and hopefully more than one option), as has already been suggested by one board member. I have argued this should have been done first. The community would then have time to be engaged in a positive conversation about what it values in the schools and what it wants to add if something is lacking and what it is willing to pay if it is needed. Imagine giving $4.6 million in a parcel tax directly to the schools. That's $317 per student (about $800,000 for AVHS if you use enrollment) or $285,000 for each of the 16 schools. I know it's a stretch, but it gives you an idea about how this conversation could have unfolded years ago with better planning.


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Posted by Get educated!
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 7, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Get educated! is a registered user.

Kathleen,

This is my last post in response to you since I can see that no matter what facts are presented, you will interpret them negatively. I have continually encouraged the discussion to be about planning for the upcoming cuts in education, while you continue to post erroneous facts about:

1. Teacher COLA increases:
"Fact: three years of large raises were given without regard for the future. The raises, 4-6%, are provided on the district's web site Web Link."

Your posted link even states the 0% increase for 2008/2009- I think this shows great regard for the current financial trouble we are facing.

2. The District's historic fiscal responsibility:

" but the debate isn't about the schools; it's about what is happening at the district office with taxpayer dollars. So while the schools may have earned your trust (and mine), for me those making the decisions have not. Their actions have placed great schools and their students in peril. There is no excellence in that." And you ended with "I know it's a stretch, but it gives you an idea about how this conversation could have unfolded years ago with better planning."

These links were researched and posted by Stacey, showing how the current administration and board has been reporting, planning, and succeeding in creating one of the finest school districts in the state for years.

Web Link
Web Link

3. and The real issue

You stated, "the debate isn't about the schools", and I couldn't disagree more. The "district" you seem to place all the blame on IS the schools, the teachers, the administrators, and even all the parent organizations and this debate is about the reality of a reduction of possibly over $9 million dollars and what it will look like in the schools.

By constantly diverting away from the issue of SOLUTIONS to the worst educational cuts in California's history, your inaccurate postings are helping to propagate the cynicism we are seeing on many postings. I can see from your line of argument that no matter what solutions are offered up, it will never be enough.

I encourage those reading this to focus on the issue that is imminently at hand.

The district has enacted solutions, their published list of reductions show cutting over $2 million dollars in administration alone.(Layoff notices have been given)

The teachers have enacted solutions, Web Link

The community now has an opportunity to enact a solution by voting yes on Measure G.

Dr. Casey has said "The elected Board of Trustees will have to present a balanced budget to the community and will need to make the cuts necessary to do so, with the understanding that the solution to the current budget crisis will come through a combination of actions."


The reality is that even with a parcel tax passing, it will still only cover half of the projected cuts. These cuts are going to have significant effects on the schools. Without it passing, the cuts will change the way our schools are run today. Stay informed about these cuts and the effects they will have on student programs since I'm sure it will be the focus of many future blogs.


You have a right to vote no, but be informed about what the reality of that "no" means to our schools starting next August when school is back in session. This is not a scare tactic, a threat, or misguiding information, it is simply the reality of what needs to occur in order to present that balanced budget that PUSD has never failed to present.

You can either help be a part of the solution, or not, but stay focused on the real issue which is what that vote will mean to the students of Pleasanton.


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Posted by Kathleen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 8, 2009 at 7:27 am

Kathleen is a registered user.

Get educated, Thank you for giving me the last word.

1. 0% for one year is not long term planning.
2. Not the last seven years--the prior 17, yes. Again, spending reserves, not saving for economic uncertainty (isn't that where we are now?), etc.

The district office administration controls the flow of money to the schools. So I am not including teachers, classified staff, or principals, and especially not parents for fiscal decisions district administration made and recommended to the board, who in turn (and at best) trusted the recommendations and voted for them.

Only one solution has been offered and that is to go to the taxpayers to keep their tails out of the fan. Saying a threat isn't a threat doesn't make it so. That is where the campaign began, with an "or else." The district wasted precious time and resources and now has offered only one option, to pull class size reduction if a tax isn't levied.

This is a story of grasshopper and the ants. People in this community who have worked hard and still many find they have to make cutbacks due to salary cuts and layoffs are being asked to save the grasshopper who went on a spending spree. That's a no vote from me, and I'll continue to state why until June 2. Others will choose when they vote.

There are solutions that don't include a parcel tax or losing CSR. Use them for the short term. Then, many of us out here are willing to take a deeper look at what the future holds and what long-term solutions are needed with the time necessary to do that, including a parcel tax; oh, and probably a 7% reserve.


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Posted by Parent of Two
a resident of Val Vista
on Apr 8, 2009 at 9:12 am

Parent of Two is a registered user.

Get educated,

I'm not sure whether to be flattered or insulted that you ignore my little parables. Frankly, your very pedantic and diversionary style of discussion sounds very administration-mouthpiece-ish, and not at all like a concerned parent or resident.

If you were a resident, you'd be worried about perpetuating the pattern of fiscal reactionism ("Hey, we're short some money, let's raise the tax") and the targeting of young teachers ("Hey, we have to lay someone off, how about the newbies?!?")

p.s. the teachers haven't "ENACTED" anything. They've put conditions on their help that require us to cough up a few million bucks before they make any moves. If the union was REALLY on board, they would've put some concessions on the table before the tax was even proposed. They aren't working with the taxpayers, they're giving an ultimatum.


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 8, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Russell is a registered user.

To Parent of Two:

"Russell, Do you honestly think the parcel tax "rewards excellence"? Or does it reward political expediency and fiscal irresponsibility?'

Yes I honestly think the tax rewards excellence. The most important result that we can measure is the quality of the education our children get in the Pleasanton school district. The quality of education our children get here in Pleasanton is excellent. Measurably so. That is why my family chose to buy a house here. Based on looking at the homework assignments and tests that my older son takes, I would say he is getting a better education than I got in a private school.

My background as an engineer at a successful silicon valley company has taught me to focus on results. Identify the most important results for a given enterprise and measure success according to those results. For the school district, the most important result is quality of education. The Pleasanton Unified School District is delivering that.

Your story about the kid with a job just doesn't work for me. Pleasanton Unified School District has not "wasted money on candy, soda, and video games...". They have taken tax money and put it to work hiring some of the best teachers in the Bay Area educating students to the highest standards. I think they are doing a great job. We are getting a bargain. We are not getting cheated.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 8, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's how to reward excellence. Switch to a merit-based pay system for teachers.


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Posted by Kathleen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 9, 2009 at 6:16 am

Kathleen is a registered user.

From Russell: "My background as an engineer at a successful silicon valley company has taught me to focus on results. Identify the most important results for a given enterprise and measure success according to those results. For the school district, the most important result is quality of education. The Pleasanton Unified School District is delivering that."

Do you also study why you got those results? Education and involvement of parents, outside experiences, a lot of tutors in this community as well are just a few of the other equally important reasons for success here.

And if the "company" is spending money on perks and raises and is endangering the "results" and all the work that went into getting the results, would you reward those responsible with "bonuses"? This country is already outraged with that scenario being played out with car companies and banks and AIG. PUSD is no different; the administration put our community's children and it's staff in jeopardy. Again, that's not excellence and it is not be rewarded.


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