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Vote Yes on Measure G Destroy Pleasanton Schools

Original post made by Tax Revolt, Country Fair, on Apr 4, 2009

A vote for Measure G is a vote to Destroy Pleasanton Schools.

If you vote Yes on Measure G:

Two Staff Development Days are removed from the school calendar. Leaving only one.

Staff Development Days are used by teachers to learn, prepare, collaborate, maintain best teaching practices, participate in academic department meetings, catch up on grading, mentor younger teachers, integrate new curriculum into the lesson plans, upgrade lesson plans, organize the classroom, and more.

This means a 66% reduction in teacher preparedness and investment in the teaching profession.

Every teacher will be less prepared, less trained, and less ready than last year.

Every Pleasanton school will be hurt. Every academic department will be hurt. Every Pleasanton classroom will be hurt.

Every child will be hurt.

Go ahead. Vote Yes on Measure G. Destroy Pleasanton Schools.

And thank your Association (union) of Pleasanton Teachers and the 70% of the teachers who voted for it.

Comments (24)

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Posted by Optimistic
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Apr 4, 2009 at 1:31 pm

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Do you even know what happens on those Staff Development days for real???? Talk to a few teachers, if they voted to get rid of them, obviously they felt that life would go on and they would all still be excellent teachers without them. Teachers have been asked to make a sacrifice, they did, and now you are complaining about it????? What else would you have had them sacrifice? Their lunch hour? Meetings on saturdays instead??? That would create unhappy and burned out teachers. That is much worse than 2 staff development days where teachers have to sit through meeting after meeting after meeting where really, not much is learned anyways. Let's make this a more productive thread.....what would you propose teachers do instead of giving up staff development days???


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Posted by Sensibly Save Our Schools
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 4, 2009 at 1:50 pm

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Unfairness of Parcel Tax to Teachers
I'm opposed to the parcel tax because I believe it's premature and I believe there are ways to reduce the budget that don't involve cutting any teaching positions or the programs listed on the parcel tax ballot language.
I think a parcel tax should be a last resort, particularly in these times when so many Pleasanton residents are struggling because they've been laid off, had their pay cut, etc. The current economic climate is scary for everyone.
I won't go into the reasons why I believe the budget can be balanced without a parcel tax - that information is available via web links on the blogs or by contacting Valerie Arkin, the school board member who came up with a viable plan to balance the budget without teacher layoffs, without key program cuts, and without a parcel tax.

But while I am opposed to the parcel tax, I am very for our teachers.
I don't support the cut of any teaching positions, and I don't support teachers taking a pay cut in exchange for a parcel tax. I feel it's extremely unfair to ask teachers to take a pay cut while administrators still receive perks that aren't enjoyed by teachers or the general working population. I think there are very few Pleasanton residents who have employers that provide an allowance for workers to travel to and from their jobs, and provide company issued and paid for gasoline credit cards and cell phones.

Giving up those perks doesn't affect administrator salaries on which their pensions are based. They are extras and in tough economic times, the extras should be the first things to go.

Like the parcel tax, I think any cuts of teaching positions and teacher salaries should be a last resort and only considered when every other option has been explored thoroughly. I agree that an across the board salary freeze may be necessary, but I cannot agree with cutting teacher's current salaries.

I think we have many fine and even superb teachers in this district and I'm disturbed that not only has PUSD asked the teachers to take a pay cut, they did not include any language that allows those who live in Pleasanton to be exempt from the parcel tax. That means those teachers will be asked to sacrifice more than anyone else...and I think that's unfair to them.

But I will say this...I agree that losing staff development days isn't a good thing. But the good teachers will wind up using their own time to prepare for classes, meet with other teachers in their department, mentor new teachers, and further their education. I think that's unfair to them.

There are no guarantees in the parcel tax language that prohibit the general funds freed up by parcel tax dollars from being used to give raises to administrators, or or re-instate non-teaching positions including those administrative positions with salaries of $100K or more. Asking teachers to take a pay cut without guaranteeing that their sacrifice isn't funding administrator raises is disturbing.

PUSD, like every other organization and home in this country must put into practice belt tightening strategies. But not at the expense of the teachers.

The day may come when a parcel tax is necessary and if PUSD can prove it's necessary, I will support a parcel tax, even a higher one, wholeheartedly. But that day isn't June 2nd.

I'd like to take a moment to thank the many fine teachers in the school district who have enriched the lives of our children. Some of you have been teaching for 10 or more years, some of you are only at the start of your careers. But I appreciate your dedication to providing students with a quality education and the fact that you have been wonderful role models.

I'm voting No on Measure G because it's not necessary, and it's unfair to our teachers.





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Posted by Optimistic
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Apr 4, 2009 at 2:00 pm

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Sensibly Save Our Schools,

I appreciate you taking the time to explain why you are not supporting the parcel tax. I think we need more posts like yours explaining both sides.

I think the community might be deceived about what a staff development day is. These are not "teacher work days". A staff development day generally is planned out minute by minute by administration. It is not a day for teachers to meet and plan. It is a day to listen to a speaker, meet in departments and do whatever assignment is given by administration, etc. While it is unfortunate that the pay will be taken away, I think many teachers are ready and willing to give up these days if it will help save money.

One of the arguments given by those that do not the support the parcel tax (not saying that you are arguing this but have seen this is other posts) is that teachers need to give up something too if the community is ever going to even think about passing this tax. So teachers did, they gave up 2 days of pay. And yet, we still unfortunately have people saying that teachers aren't doing the right thing. Feels like teachers just can't win. Obviously administration has perks. We get that. But even getting rid of those perks will not make up the 9.7 million deficit that we are in. The community needs to step in and help. It is only for 4 years. Yes, we are all struggling to make ends meet. But education? That is something that should NEVER struggle. This is a public service and we are lucky in Pleasanton to have such a great school district. We are also lucky that we have not had to pay a parcel tax until now. But it is necessary. It is not a bailout. Anyone with children in this community will immediately be affected by this, and who will everyone blame if the parcel tax does not pass and your child's favorite teacher was laid off when the job could have been saved???

Just some food for thought.


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Posted by Sensibly Save Our Schools
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 4, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Sensibly Save Our Schools is a registered user.

Optimistic...I wrote you a reply part of which was to thank you for your thoughtful post and to apologize for being a little snarky to you on another thread, but when I pressed the submit button, my reply disappeared.
I've got to run out to keep a volunteer commitment, but when I get back, I'll try to recover the reply.
Meanwhile, just wanted to thank you for allowing us to have a civilized discussion - I really appreciate it.
Now I must be off!


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Posted by Tax Revolt 2
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 4, 2009 at 3:56 pm

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Optimistic - If this is all the 'shared sacrifice' that the APT and PUSD can come up with, then for the kids, keep the two staff development days and reduce teachers salaries by $760,000. Stop hurting the kids.

Can you help me understand your explanation of staff development days?

You say these are not 'teacher work days'. If the teachers are not working that day, they why are they getting paid?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 4, 2009 at 5:09 pm

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Optimistic wrote: "who will everyone blame if the parcel tax does not pass and your child's favorite teacher was laid off when the job could have been saved???"

Optimistic,

It sounds like you've been convinced of the need for the parcel tax by fear. The answer to your question is the administration. It isn't the taxpayer's job to balance PUSD's budget. They can balance it without a parcel tax. They can save teacher jobs without a parcel tax. They can also do it without cutting the programs that most parents value. And they know it.

So why did they propose a parcel tax? For starters, they've been trying to do it for years. Why? Because a parcel tax is a large source of discretionary funds for a school district. They know that the demographics of our district matches the characteristics of other districts with parcel taxes. Those other districts also tend to repeatedly renew the tax after their expiration and PUSD knows this too.

You don't have to believe me because I know you find it more convenient to dismiss my comments as sarcastic. So read this 2001 Public Policy Institute of California report on school parcel taxes Web Link and come to your own conclusions.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Apr 4, 2009 at 6:18 pm

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What nonsense!

Tax Revolt, your connection of measure G and the loss of staff development days is illogical.

Yes, the union has tentatively agreed with the school district to reduce staff development days. On those days, teachers attend workshops to improve their teaching, and share new approaches to curriculum with one another. It is unfortunate that those opportunities will be curtailed next year.

However, staff development days are not the only time that teachers invest in improving their skills. Most teachers participate in continuing education activities over the summer, at their own expense. In addition, the school district invests time every week to allow teachers to have "prep periods" so they can collaborate, catch up on grading, upgrade lesson plans, etc. So no -- cutting staff development days will not mean a "66% reduction in teacher preparedness."

Voting against measure G is not going to protect staff development days.

If measure G fails, the district is not going to suddenly restore funding for those two staff development days. The union and the district will have to reopen negotiations.

The state budget cuts are the primary cause of the current threats to our schools, and measure G is the only option on the table right now to minimize the impact of cuts on our children.

Enough with the misleading blog titles, already!


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Posted by Optimistic
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Apr 4, 2009 at 8:59 pm

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Tax Revolt 2:

If you look at a district calendar, there are two types of days where teachers work and students don't go to school: teacher work days and staff development days. Teacher work Days are meant for teachers to have the time to do what they feel is necessary in order to be the best teacher they can be: grading papers, grading test, inputing grades, meet with colleagues, etc. Staff Development days are days where the administration puts together a schedule of events that teachers are required to attend. Some staff development days are speakers, some are presentations by other staff members, some are meetings, etc. They are different.

Why would you start a thread about a topic that clearly you don't know enough detail about?


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Posted by Optimistic
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Apr 5, 2009 at 8:24 am

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"It sounds like you've been convinced of the need for the parcel tax by fear"

No Stacey, I have done my own research on the parcel tax and PUSD and am voting for it. The only thing I fear is that it won't get passed which I feel will be much more detrimental to the district.

"You don't have to believe me because I know you find it more convenient to dismiss my comments as sarcastic".

Convenient? The most convenient thing for me would be to sit back and not say anything at all, which is not going to happen :)


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Posted by Sensibly Save Our Schools
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 5, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Sensibly Save Our Schools is a registered user.

Optimistic,
Thank you for your explanation about the difference between teacher work days and Staff Development Days.
I was certainly under the impression (from PUSD administrators) that Staff Development days are crucial...you are now making me question that impression.
I don't know how to determine how vital Staff Development Days are - ask teachers, ask administrators? Wouldn't they say those days are vital, particularly to a parent, regardless of their own beliefs?
This is not something I can figure out a way to determine with facts, and I'm not trying to out you Optimistic, but if your opinion is based on personal experience, please share more information.
You asked what instead of staff development days teachers should give up, and I can only say again that reducing teachers' salaries is not something I'm in favor of no matter how it's packaged.
Having spent many hours volunteering at the schools, my opinion is that teachers aren't paid enough for the hours they put in and the work they do. But I speak only for myself. While the day may come when there truly is no other option than to ask teachers to take an across the board pay cut, that day is not today.
I believe the community should not be asked to support a parcel tax until PUSD has thoroughly examined their spending on a line by line basis, cut the fat, determined how much federal stimulus money it will receive, and the results of the May 19th election.
I think asking for a parcel tax now is premature. I think we've got a great community here in Pleasanton that would have been willing to raise funds to see PUSD through the current budget crisis and allow PUSD the time it needs to really delve into all aspects of the budget situation. Beyond which, it would have been nice if PUSD had initiated a fundraising campaign (perhaps with the help of parent groups) that the entire community could have supported rather than putting a parcel tax measure to the community, something they could have anticipated from a previous survey would divide the community..which it has.
Because I've seen viable alternatives to the parcel tax, alternatives that do not cut teaching positions or key programs, I just can't support the parcel tax.
If after a thorough examination/pruning of the budget is done, good financial practices put into place to ensure the bulk of taxpayers' money goes towards directly supporting our kids' education, and other revenue sources identified and allocated....if after that, PUSD can justify the need for a parcel tax, I will support a parcel tax without reservation.
But first I need to be assured that PUSD can and will prioritize the allocation of our funds to put kids first.


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Posted by Optimistic
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Apr 5, 2009 at 1:24 pm

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By no means did I mean to devalue staff development days. They still are very important to teachers and administration as these are days where staff work with other staff members and build important relationships as well as learn more about the field of education. I only meant to address the statements in this original thread being

"Staff Development Days are used by teachers to learn, prepare, collaborate, maintain best teaching practices, participate in academic department meetings, catch up on grading, mentor younger teachers, integrate new curriculum into the lesson plans, upgrade lesson plans, organize the classroom, and more."

What Tax Revolt is saying is simply not true. The days that Tax Revolt is referring to are Teacher Work Days, those which have not been cut. Looking back I realize that I did make Staff Development Days appear to be useless anyways so it wasn't a big deal when teachers cut them, which I didn't mean to imply.

I do agree that PUSD needs to figure out where else to cut the fat, and I believe that they have been trying to do so. However, I don't believe that simply cutting the fat will make up the 9.7 million that is needed. It will certainly help and it will clean up any unfair practices that have been occurring. While no one ever wants to pay more taxes, I do believe that this is a tax that the community of Pleasanton should be willing to pay because we know exactly where the money will be going and we know that it will directly affect the lives of students in Pleasanton. That is what this is all about, right? Education is a public service. We are fortunate in Pleasanton to have wonderful educators and a great school district. I am a product of PUSD and feel lucky every day that I had the wonderful experience in PUSD that has gotten me to the position that I am in today. I feel it is our responsibility, our civic duty, to give back to a public service that has helped so many of us.


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

Sensibly Save Our Schools is a registered user.

Optimistic,
We agree more than we disagree. If the fat's cut, and in the case of perks, prevented from not returning (sounds like an exercise program, doesn't it?) and once all the revenues determined, etc. etc., it is certain a parcel tax is necessary to keep teachers and programs, I can be for it.
But I don't think the exercise program will even be started while the parcel tax is on the table.
We still have nearly 2 months....maybe PUSD will do what so many of us have been asking them to do....go through their entire budget with a sharpened pencil so that the taxpayers can feel confident that the money they're contributing is being used to benefit the kids. I feel strongly they should have done this before asking for more funds or asking teachers to give up salary.
So, Falcon or Don?????
P.S. Again, I must say how much I enjoy having a pleasant conversation and it only reminds that ultimately, we're all on the same side!


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Posted by Sensibly Save Our Schools
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 5, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Sensibly Save Our Schools is a registered user.

Oops, I meant to say preventing the fat from returning!

I'm doing my best to keep researching ways PUSD can trim their current budget, particularly in regard to their operational expenses. I just wish they'd take it upon themselves to do this job!

I am guilty of not looking into PUSD expenses much sooner, but I guess I'm like a lot of people in that respect - when there are no cash flow problems, few look closely at expenses.

Optimistic, I hope you don't mind me asking, but what do you think about the $120K a year in car allowances?


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Apr 5, 2009 at 6:56 pm

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Sensibly,

you write that you don't want to see teachers take pay cuts, but you also don't think a parcel tax should be on the ballot yet.

If there were no parcel tax on the ballot, teachers would certainly be taking "pay cuts" -- down to zero salary -- because they would have to be laid off in order to balance the budget.

If the board waited till after they knew for certain what would happen with the federal stimulus package, and with the May 19 state initiatives, and only then decided that a parcel tax should be put on a ballot... it would not be on a ballot until November. By that point, teachers would already have lost their jobs.

So, when is the right time for the parcel tax to be on the ballot? I don't want to wait till after teachers have moved on to other jobs.


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Posted by Kathleen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 5, 2009 at 7:09 pm

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The question shouldn't be when is the right time. The question should be why didn't the district plan for a rainy day and avoid having to rush a tax now, making a November ballot acceptable, if it was needed. Or why didn't the district try for a tax sooner . . . but then they tried, and the survey said the community wouldn't support it in sufficient numbers to pass. Which is also why they didn't do another survey before putting this tax on a ballot.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 5, 2009 at 7:52 pm

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Sandy wrote: "If there were no parcel tax on the ballot, teachers would certainly be taking "pay cuts" -- down to zero salary -- because they would have to be laid off in order to balance the budget."

Why do you believe that?


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Posted by Sensibly Save Our Schools
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 5, 2009 at 11:15 pm

Sensibly Save Our Schools is a registered user.

Sandy,
The right time for a parcel tax is when all other options have first been thoroughly explored and initiated. That has not happened and PUSD and the Pleasanton community would not even be in this situation right now if PUSD had maintained adequate reserves, as they had stated they would years ago. (see other threads which provide links to this information)
I have to ask why they chose to practice poor fiscal management, and so should every concerned taxpayer. I have to ask why anyone would feel comfortable handing over more of their hard earned money to an administration that not only hasn't been good stewards of our money, but even now continues to make poor financial decisions (e.g. choosing the most expensive means to put a parcel tax on the ballot when less expensive options were available).
Are you comfortable knowing that you and 50 other Pleasanton property owners, by agreeing to a parcel tax, are not paying to save teachers' jobs or programs, but simply freeing up funds in the general funds that will enable PUSD administrators to continue to enjoy receiving car allowances - to the tune of $120K a year. I know I'm not comfortable with this, and neither are other taxpayers who expect the bulk of their taxes to go towards education, not administrators' perks and most particularly not in this economy.

I sincerely wish you would take the time to review the verifiable research that so many others have done, or if you are not comfortable with the links these researchers have provided on the blogs, go to the District office and ask to see records of board meeting minutes, consultant and administrator contracts, expense reports, etc. Or even contact the board members and ask them about items like car allowances, district gasoline credit cards and the $150K per year cell phone bill.

I appreciate your passion for education, and that's why I'm suggesting you do the above research....I think you will find yourself as dismayed as I was that so much of the money Pleasanton homeowners are paying in education taxes isn't funding education.









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Posted by Sensibly Save Our Schools
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 5, 2009 at 11:20 pm

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Sandy,
I see that some of the questions you raised in this thread have been answered by poster Kathleen in another thread ("My Kingdom...")


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 6, 2009 at 3:04 pm

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"If measure G fails, the district is not going to suddenly restore funding for those two staff development days. The union and the district will have to reopen negotiations. "

Sandy,
This is exactly what I think needs to happen. This just reconfirms my stance that measure G needs to fail (as currently written).
Additionally, your statement below contradicts the one above. Admittedly you acknowledge that negotiations are another option. I agree it isn't the easiest option, but sometimes the right decision isn't the easy one.

"The state budget cuts are the primary cause of the current threats to our schools, and measure G is the only option on the table right now to minimize the impact of cuts on our children. "




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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Apr 7, 2009 at 5:47 am

Sandy is a registered user.

Sensibly,

I have done my research. I simply come to a different conclusion based on the facts, and based on my experience. Given the heat of opposition to measure G, I believe that when it passes, there will still be additional scrutiny of the use of the general fund and of the parcel tax revenue. In fact, I would volunteer to serve on the oversight committee that measure G requires when it passes.

Pleasanton Parent,

There is nothing to say that we could not pass measure G, AND reopen negotiations with the union. What we do know is that we cannot predict the outcome of that process. Every time two parties negotiate, there is a best alternative to a negotiated agreement (a BATNA). What would the union's BATNA be? We don't know.

Would union members go on strike if we demanded the elimination of step and column increases? Could they, if we pressed for salary reductions on top of that? Would members of the administration resign rather than deal with the stress of balancing a budget without measure G revenues? We cannot know.

Kathleen,

The questions of who didn't do what in the past and why do not interest me. They do not help us figure out how to solve the current problems the district faces. We can provide more ongoing scrutiny of board decision making, going forward. I would rather do that, while making use of funds from the parcel tax to protect our students from the worst of the cuts to state funding.

If I had the sense that opponents of measure G were interested in doing something (anything) to protect the kids from those cuts, rather than being interested in castigating Casey and board members about what they did and didn't do..... I might change my mind. But I don't see how opponents of measure G are going to avoid teacher layoffs, if measure G does not pass.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 7, 2009 at 7:48 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Sandy wrote: "Would union members go on strike if we demanded the elimination of step and column increases? Would members of the administration resign rather than deal with the stress of balancing a budget without measure G revenues?"

Those are good questions! I don't want to answer for those groups, but here's the thoughts that those bring to mind. Would union members go on strike over suspension of s&c increases during this extreme "worse I've seen in 17 years" economic condition? That would make teachers look very bad! Would the administration resign? What are we paying Casey such a generous salary with other perks for then?!


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Apr 8, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Sandy is a registered user.

Stacey,

I don't know what the union would do, and I'm not their advisor. Just a curious and concerned citizen. As for why we are paying Superintendent Casey, he has a valid employment contract with the district. He hasn't resigned, and I have no firsthand knowledge to suggest that he might.

I asked those hypothetical questions not because I expected answers, but because I wanted to make the point that there could be negative consequences if we try to reopen negotiations with the union. It is, of course, also possible that there could be positive consequences. I simply don't know.

You asked me in your comment above, on April 5, how I know that teachers will be laid off if measure G does not pass. I acknowledge that I cannot know for sure. It certainly seems likely, though, based on the official actions that the board has taken so far. I have a hard time imagining that it would be possible to avoid layoffs entirely, given that the district must spend the biggest portion of the budget on staff. Avoiding layoffs, with such large state budget cuts and the continuing economic downturn... I just have a hard time imagining it.

Even if measure G passes, I would anticipate that some layoffs will still occur. The revenues from the parcel tax cannot completely offset the reduction in state funds for the district.

If anyone has an alternative plan that involves balancing the budget without layoffs, I'd really like to see the plan and the budget numbers.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 8, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Sandy,

I just want to take a moment to commend you on being a part of the "civil" discussion on this site.


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Posted by doglover
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2009 at 5:13 pm

doglover is a registered user.

Ditto to what Stacey said...everybody having a civil discussion on the parcel tax issue and everyone working together to find solutions - that's the right direction.


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