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The Superintendent's Memo

Original post made by Stacey, Amberwood/Wood Meadows, on Apr 24, 2009

Hey, I found a copy online! Web Link

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Comments (6)

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 24, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Hrm the line breaks are confusing. Here's my responses:

1) Also at the time of that writing (March 24th), Schwarzenegger and some Congress members reaffirmed that they weren't going to allow the funds to be diverted. I guess Casey didn't know that. Casey also didn't seem to understand that the $2.1MM comes from special ed funds and that there's a whole lot of other money available. PUSD, please apply for it NOW! You haven't sent in your application yet.

2) Casey is talking past the anonymous document. The document probably refers to ALL pay raises, including Step and Column while Casey is referring to COLA only. Who is being deceptive?

3) This one loses me. On the District's website they show a COLA raise of 4.60% in 2005/2006. LAO's website reports that the COLA from the State for that year was 4.20%. What's worse is that the District does no good for itself if it's passing through the entire COLA from the State to COLA raises. What's going on?

4) Those programs will only be at risk then every four years, right? How stable is that? And if it were only "until the state and global financial situation improves" the parcel tax wouldn't been written specifically to address that.

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Posted by Disney fan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Dr. Casey also notes how the budget problems PUSD is facing are being faced by every public sector entity in the state and nation.
BUT other public sector entities are rolling back salaries, freezing salaries, reducing hours, etc. etc.
Other public sector entities seem to realize that the biggest expense in their budget is salaries and in order to get their budgets in line, the cuts have to be made in salaries.
No one likes pay cuts, freezes or layoffs, but they're preferable to bankruptcy.
Other public sector entities, including the State Assembly, seem to realize that giving salary increases when taxpayers are struggling is inappropriate.
It's time PUSD comes to that same realization.
Step & column raises need to be frozen. They're not sustainable.
Contrary to what PUSD is saying, there is nothing in California Ed Code that mandates retroactive pay once a wage freeze is lifted.

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Posted by Get out of the wagon
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Wow, Stacey - Good find.

I'm intrigued with how Casey seems to toggle between PUSD is desperate for funds and PUSD will be fine if the parcel tax passes and all will be saved, or at least by enough time for the State/Fed funding to eventually "save the day."

Where did he address the budget review findings of erroneous spending (i.e. staff cell phone bills) or at the very least what staff could do themselves in order to help themselves and each other. Although I realize that wasn't the point of the Memo, but where IS that document that demonstrates their fiscal responsibility and detection of poor spending with resolutions on how they will be rectified? I bet you couldn't find a "Memo" like that on the PUSD website, although maybe it is there and I am judging too quickly? I would LOVE to be wrong here.

I just really feel this Measure is only to ensure pay increases over the next 4 years for those that didn't get pink slipped and that they are not looking at any way other than program cuts or the parcel tax to make that happen.

Is it me or do they act "entitled" to a pay raise at the expense, both fiscally and educationally, to the families of Pleasanton who themselves are hurting? I'd really like to finally hear how they are deliniating out how else they can come to solve this problem for themselves.

It is so much easier to come along and help someone who is trying to help themselves. Those who just want to act helpless, should stay stuck.

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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 25, 2009 at 9:04 am

Stacey, Thanks for finding the memo. My take:

Statement #1:
• Recent raises (14.5%, 2005-08—adding $15 million during the life of the proposed parcel tax) crippled the district’s ability of the district to respond to economic uncertainties like those they find themselves in now. One of the district's stated goals in 05-06 is, “Manage the District budget process to ensure financial stability by balancing income with expenditures, providing financial resources for the many competing priorities of the District, and implementing a long-range plan to reestablish reserves to a 7% level.” Not only is it possible to balance the budget without a parcel tax; it was possible to avoid these cuts.

Statement #2:
• The key word is estimate. Final figures are not available and the budget will not be voted on until the end of June, after the vote on the parcel tax could impose a new tax on the homeowners of Pleasanton.

Statement #3:
• This stable and reliable funding source is only for four years. Either the district assumes it will be able to renew the parcel tax after that period or they are counting on other funding growth. It is this kind of thinking that caused the current problems. The time for reform is now, without asking homeowners to pay another tax. The district again acknowledges that not all the “actions” are in place, yet it is moving ahead with a parcel tax election.

Statement #4:
• When the district passed the entire COLA through to employees, without setting aside funding for the impacts of step-and-column costs, for other compensation, and for Economic Uncertainties, a line item in their budget, they took a risk. Saying a budget is balanced just because it shows $X received matching $X spent does not equate to sound fiscal decision making. Using the CPI for San Francisco over the three years in question (2005-2008) would have provided adequate raises while allowing saving for a rainy day.

Statement #5
• This statement notes $5.6 million in decreased funding, without noting (1) increased flexibility of how many categorical funds may be used (K-3 class size reduction allows a sliding scale to increase to 22:1 or higher for instance) or (2) the federal fund offset mentioned in #6 below or (3) how they jump to $9.7 million without additional hard numbers (and hasn't that amount grown recently?). “As the budget clarifies” this number could be smaller too, a budget that won’t be clear until after the vote on the parcel tax. As to being prepared for “difficult and ever-changing economic times,” that might have been something to do before now, and as noted above, was originally a district goal.

Statement #6:
• The district now knows it will receive $2.1 in federal funds to offset general fund expenses for special education. It also can apply for ARRA funds to offset layoffs.

Statement #7:
• As Stacey notes, did the district eliminate step and column increases for 2008-09 or only the COLA? Step and column costs about $1.5 million ($15 million for 2009-2013).

Statement #8:
• Interesting that this is placed at the Board’s feet. While they have the final responsibility for approving the budget, they base that vote on the work of staff who should have provided multiple options for Board consideration. Not noted is that many staff members are rehired once the budget is finalized in June. This is not to suggest the process is pleasant or even acceptable for those receiving notices.

What is unfortunate is (1) the path that led the district to the dilemma it faces today and (2) that the community does not, and will not likely have, all the information it needs in order to vote confidently on giving over $18 million to the same organization that got us here. A parcel tax “could” . . . not must . . . be part of the solution? Again, the parcel tax is stable and predictable funding only for four years, and is not an ideal way to provide for the critical needs of students once it ends. We need a management team that spends less time looking in the rear view mirror and more time looking through the windshield.

Consider also that this parcel tax has been timed to occur when the belief is that those in opposition won’t show up at the polls. It is not surprising this approach would be used in a political arena, but this has an added cost to the community (instead of an estimated cost of $100-$150,000 to run with the state ballot in May, it is estimated the cost will be closer to $300,000 to run a separate election in June. The parcel tax needs to be soundly defeated so the staff can provide a clearer picture, with tangible numbers, and can offer more than one option to the community, including specific language on what our tax dollars would purchase.

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Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 25, 2009 at 9:52 am

All of you are amazing, thank you for doing the research and analysis that I have no time to do. I have been dead set against the parcel tax for many reasons -- costly special election, refusal to stop raises, refusal to cut wages and benefits, etc.
Casey has tried to put this one over on us and I am so pleased that it appears that the educated citizens of Pleasanton are smarter than he thought.

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 25, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Stacey is a registered user.


Regarding Statement #7...

The District supposedly cut $2MM out of 2008/2009 already to pay for step and column and some other rising costs (not sure what those break out into) in light of receiving no COLA from the State. See how they did it: Web Link

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