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Pleasanton school board to hear latest state funding estimates at tonight's meeting

Original post made on Oct 9, 2012

The Pleasanton School board will get an update on the latest financial news from the state at its meeting tonight. The update has been scheduled to take only about five minutes.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 5:43 AM

Comments (31)

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Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2012 at 9:04 am

No more taxes !! Hold Jerry Moonbeam and the legislature accountable for spending our money. No high speed train to nowhere. Put it back into the education system. Where it benfits the kids and not the senior admin staff !


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Just waiting for another parcel tax to vote down. Also defeat both tax proposals on the state ballot. Cut the public sector pensions for existing employees, overhead and other waste.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Citizen and Concerned, Would you vote for a parcel tax for PUSD schools that spells out a specific target for the funds? Just wondering if it is enough to sway some of the no votes.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm

"Would you vote for a parcel tax for PUSD schools that spells out a specific target for the funds? Just wondering if it is enough to sway some of the no votes. "

How would that fix the main problem? Remember San Ramon's parcel tax? And Cupertino's? They were for keeping CSR, which they did for a year, (two in SR), and then their districts again threatened CSR, asked for another tax.

Until the main problem is fixed (step and column, pensions, automatic raises, unreasonable admin compensations, hiring of unnecessary people), no amount of revenue will be enough, and a parcel tax would fix a problem temporarily, then a year later, even if those funds are still used for what they say, other cuts would have to be made.

So for instance, if we passed a tax for CSR (guaranteed), a year later we still have a deficit because of automatic raises, etc, and since CSR is guaranteed, PUSD would then threaten another program (more HS sections, music, reading specialists....).

So I would personally vote NO because we are not addressing the root problem and the deficit would still be there a year later. I feel the same about the propositions.

At some point, California will have to address the issues of unions, pensions, automatic raises because we cannot go on like this, delaying the inevitable with more taxes. We already pay some of the highest tax in the nation, yet have the worse deficits, why? Because Brown and the legislature refuse to address the problem, and school districts continue to make bad financial decisions.

You do remember they just hired a PIO from Fremont, right? That was in the middle of a financial crisis, and they want to pass a parcel tax? I don't think so. Why should I finance the new PIO's salary and training? (even if her title is something else to disguise her position)


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Resident, I wouldn't personally choose CSR, but if SRV's parcel tax was like many others in the state, the promise was vague: "to maintain small class sizes." In the case of CSR, you would have to have a proposal that says: "to keep class size at 25:1 (or whatever else to one) for grades K-3." I think the community will find that idea exceedingly expensive and it ignores grades 4-12, but you never know.

Yes, hydraulics of budgets are a problem, but if you are replacing a program that is already cut . . . counselors, assistant principals, library hours, custodial hours, high school sections, reading specialists, the Barton program . . . there is no new funding being added for discretionary uses from the general fund. Some districts have added 2% annual increase to their taxes to cover salary creep. In other words, if more cuts loom, they are cuts that would happen anyway. Someone even suggested that if new funds came in (I assume via an economic boom), the parcel tax would cease.

Were it my decision, I would rather support a parcel tax for an off-the-salary-schedule bonus for non-administrative positions. No new positions could be added; just a nod to teachers and classified staff who have gone years without a pay raise (yes, I know about step and column). Seems it would do a lot for morale to let staff know they are appreciated by the community.

There are plenty of options for where to put money back in the schools for a three or four year period. And there are many very smart people who could help write a proposal without loopholes.

Yes, there's the management position, and car allowances (and mileage), and other areas that should be cut. The tax would not cover any of them.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm

" The tax would not cover any of them."

No, but it would put money back to where that came from. Ie, they took money from the general fund to cover perks, new positions, etc. Now the general fund has less money to cover programs being targeted for cuts. So they ask for a parcel tax. It's a game of words.

You are right that if the program is already cut and the parcel tax is to bring back that specific program, then the funds would have to be used for that specifically. But why was the program cut in the first place? Because of poor financial decisions.

It's like having a home and a vacation home. So now you cannot afford the mortgage on your main home because some of the income is going towards the vacation home. So you ask your parents for help, promising that none if their money would go to the vacation home. May be technically right, but indirectly, your parents would be helping you with your vacation home.

Same goes for schools: they cut X to fund Y. Then they cry about needing money for X and so a tax is born. I am not playing more games (I voted yes on the first parcel tax but I quickly realized how wrong I was, so I plan to vote NO until the root problem is fixed).

I like your idea of a temporary bonus, that way the year after we are not faced with even deeper deficits (step and column creates bigger and bigger deficits each year, so it would be nice to give the bonus when there is money and do without during a deficit, just like in the private sector)

In the meantime, I plan to vote NO on parcel taxes and propositions that attempt to raise taxes.

Now, if PUSD came out and said: we are doing without perks, no more car allowances, we will fire the recently hired PIO we could not afford, etc, AND then they wrote a very specific parcel tax.... then you have my YES vote. But what is the chance of that happening? (and if somehow that were to happen, I would vote yes on the parcel tax but would still vote NO on prop 30, 38...)


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Resident, I'm absolutely with you on 30 and 38--real problem, wrong answers. I also agree on the unneeded position and the perks (some of which have been donated back--a method that maintains daily pay rates for retirement calculations).

I would say it's more like refinancing your home with an ARM that increases beyond your salary increases. You still need the home, and so grandma and grandpa buy the kids clothes. The parents don't get anything extra, but the kids aren't naked and wearing shoes with holes.

Many of the bad decisions (years of unsustainable raises is one) belong to the previous administration. My preference would be to end the perks and just pay one competitive salary to each of the key administrators--no car allowances, no me too clauses, no free meals.

As for PUSD changing their tune, I would guess it is possible if the administration would recognize it's the only way to have a parcel tax pass. However, I see it as only minimally likely if others are assuring them the tax was "this close to passing" and "the third time is the charm."


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Oct 10, 2012 at 7:40 am

Ah, so 'Resident' and taxpayer Kathleen are against any further funding for the schools. Why am I not surprised? How did it go with finding that imaginary $10,000 television that you two were accusing PUSD of getting, you two?

Taxpayer Kathleen, I used to respect you but now realize that you had me fooled the entire time and that you're basically a teapartier-in-disguise. You and 'Resident' are virtually indistinguishable in your positions, right down to the gusto with which you both were attacking former school board member Sandy Piderit in that ridiculous "$10,000 television" thread.


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Posted by john
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2012 at 7:44 am

Sam, Sandy was a candidate, not a board member, and I think she would have been a good one.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 10, 2012 at 9:23 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sam, I didn't accuse anyone, let alone Sandy, of buying a $10,000 t.v. The t.v. conversation was about priorities, unnecessary spending, and morale (by the way, the issue was raised by the CSEA president). And if you actually read what I said here, I was asking about support FOR a parcel tax.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 10, 2012 at 10:05 am

An argument that ignores the many districts with very successful parcel taxes.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 10, 2012 at 10:36 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Observer, how are you measuring success? San Ramon, Palo Alto, and many other districts that had the vaguer language regarding class sizes have let those class sizes increase. What was saved instead of keeping classes at 20:1? What is clear is the youngest teachers lost their jobs.


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Posted by Agreement
a resident of Danbury Park
on Oct 10, 2012 at 10:59 am

Do yourselves a favor and read up on collective bargaining agreements in this state. The PUSC contract with the teachers union says the money first must go to salary increases. Pure and simple and it is a binding contract that is in place. Parcel tax is a waster of time in this economic environment.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Agreement, I'll go back and read the find print, but I do not think the contract can circumvent a parcel tax intent (just like a bond cannot be used for anything other than very specific areas involving facilities). I've also seen contracts that cannot take more than half of any COLAs from the state.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

The fine print (below) 9.2.5 could be a problem for those wanting CSR reinstated, and 11.2.2.2 could be a problem if those positions are targeted by a parcel tax.

"9.2.5: If funds specifically earmarked for class size reduction become available, either from the State or as a result of local elections, the Association and the District agree to reopen negotiations on the impact of a District decision to implement such class size reduction."

"11.2.2: The stipend set forth below shall be paid to any unit member assigned by the District to perform tasks:
"11.2.2.1 authorized by (1) of the following credentials or certificates: [I left the amounts out]
reading specialist
special education (e.g. L.H., R.S.)
bilingual or B-CLAD
National Board Certification (speech and language)
National Board Certification (teaching)
"11.2.2.2: in support of the following programs:
EL Liaison (Elementary)
EL Liaison (MS and HS)
GATE Liaison
TUPE Coordinator
"Note: Each of the above stipends (11.2.2.2) shall be renegotiated if there are significant changes in program funding."

Entire agreement is here: Web Link


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Posted by Wow
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Thanks for this info. They really have thought all this out! Scary.


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Posted by Wow
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Actually reading this in context, it may just allow the option of reducing numbers in the classroom if we get additional funding, which would be a good thing!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Not sure why that is negotiated if that is local money. It could be in the event the language reads "to maintain smaller class sizes," which means there is wiggle room.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Oct 10, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Kathleen said: "Not sure why that is negotiated if that is local money."

Subsection 9.2.5. comes from a section of the agreement dealing with maximum allowable class sizes. I don't know why you and "Resident" habitually try to choose the most sinister possible interpretation all the time. Oh, wait, I take that back. I do know.

To "Wow": Yes, you realized on your own that there was another way of looking at the subsection other than the way that taxpayer Kathleen was trying to insinuate. Good for you.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sam, better said I should have written that those seeking a parcel tax for CSR or reinstating any positions that might have been lost from 11.2.2.2 should consider the agreement. Still, I used the word "could," not "is" or "will." So, I wasn't making it sinister, and I was quoting the contract as a response to another poster. I posted the link on purpose so others could read it in context.


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Posted by Wow
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Sorry. It was my fault, not Kathleen's. It's helpful information, but as we all agree, not sinister :)


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2012 at 7:09 am

This is about CSR funding (from edsource):

" beginning in 2009, in a move to give districts more flexibility in how they managed their shrinking revenues, the Legislature gave districts the right to raise class sizes to over 25 students and still get 70 percent of the subsidy they had been receiving."

"Until then, 99 percent of the state's 883 districts eligible to participate in the program had an average of 20 students in K-3 grades. If average class sizes reached 22 or more, they lost all their subsidy."

"The class size reduction program is still protected in the state budget as a "categorical" program. But as part of his budget reform proposal to terminate all but five state categorical programs, Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to eliminate protected funding for the class size program as well, which could hasten its demise because schools would be permitted to use the funds for any educational purpose"

Web Link


This is just an example of how, no matter how specific wording is in a parcel tax, there is no guarantee as to how the money will be used, since school districts have flexibility.

Even money raised (remember the I love Pleasanton schools campaign?) is re-directed to where the district wishes. I remember that many parents donated specifically for CSR back then, but not enough money was raised to re-instate the full program. So instead, the district used the money for counselors and yes, to hire back two of Casey's buddies so that their pensions would not be affected (they hired them back temporarily to beef up their pensions). All of this even when parents who had donated the money spoke against it.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 11, 2012 at 8:38 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Flexibility was granted on funding coming from the state, so I don't think it would apply to a parcel tax. It is certainly worth doing the homework, though. There were many disappointments with the previous administration.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 11, 2012 at 11:24 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

In looking for information on rules for parcel taxes, I ran across legal challenges to parcel tax Measures H and A for the Alameda Unified School District. The district has prevailed in both measures, which had tiered rates (different for each Measure).

Measure A included language allowing: "'Severe Fiscal Emergency' may be declared by a majority of the Board of Education when the emergency is the result of financial events which are out of the control of the Board; and either (a) the District's Interim Financial Report is 'Qualified' or 'Negative' pursuant to AB 1200 and AB 2756 and the Alameda County Office of Education concurs with this determination; or (b) the Alameda County Office of Education has disapproved the District's annual budget.

"'Changed Funding Conditions' may be declared by a majority of the Board of Education when local, state or federal funding for programs supported by this Measure is reduced below the 2010-2011 levels of funding as of October 2010, including the receipt of the statutory cost of living adjustment, such that the changed conditions increase the cost of providing the programs supported by this Measure. Changed Funding Conditions may also be declared by a majority of the Board in the event local, state or federal funding for programs supported by this Measure is increased above the 2010-2011 levels of funding such that supplemental parcel tax funds are no longer required to maintain the program and the Board may reapportion revenues to the remaining programs supported by this Measure."
Web Link

It would be interesting to see how this language plays out over the course of the tax.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm

"Flexibility was granted on funding coming from the state, so I don't think it would apply to a parcel tax."

But they could continue taking the money from CSR (what they get from the state) for other things, and then the money from a parcel tax would not be enough. It is kind of like what happened in other districts that went back to the community for a second parcel tax (in addition to the one already in place)

And CSR is just an example. One of the HS in Pleasanton had a grant for art, and the district took that for other expenses. Parents were then asked to donate for art supplies, etc (what the art grant was supposed to cover). I know this because my neighbor's child was taking an art class when this happened.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Kathleen:

is PUSD for sure putting a tax on the ballot? I have not looked at my ballot yet so I am not sure ( and I am not home right now)

The last parcel tax also failed, even though the amount of the second tax was less than the first.

One article talked about why the second tax might have failed:

"Opponents said Measure E would have led to $15 million in step-and-column pay raises throughout the district, but school officials said the number was more like $6 million over four years."

Web Link


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Resident, There are people talking about it in the community, but the board has not voted to move ahead as far as I know. I'd love to see the math behind the $6 million number. Not worth rehashing--it's all in these blogs somewhere.


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Posted by Nurse Shark
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm

There is no parcel tax on the ballot. Staceleen is just trying to make sure the community continues to be befuddled and frightened just in case people do try to fund our schools better.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Nurse Shark, Start at the top. I didn't bring up parcel taxes, just asked a question and a pleasant discussion occurred. There is interest in a parcel tax for spring, if it gets wings. I'm not opposed to funding schools better. Perhaps we disagree on the specifics.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2012 at 6:45 am

This was posted on a different forum. The Contra Costa Times' editorial about why we should vote NO on prop 30 and 38:

"Contra Costa Times editorial: Proposition 30 is not way to solve California's fiscal crisis"

Web Link

I am glad to see a newspaper writing the obvious about these two propositions (30 and 38), and I am disappointed (but not surprised) that our school board endorsed both.

These propositions will not solve any budget deficit and may only "fix" a few things in the short term (a year or so), and then we will still have budget deficit and face severe cuts all because Brown and the legislature refuse to address the root cause, and they want to spend money we do not have.

NO on 30 and 38


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 13, 2012 at 6:50 am

why did I post above about why voting NO on 30 and 38 make sense? Because that is exactly the same thing that is happening in school districts: parcel taxes do NOT solve problems long term, as we have seen with various districts that go back to their communities for second (and bigger) parcel taxes and still cut programs.


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