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Parents push Pleasanton school board for smaller class sizes

Original post made on Mar 28, 2013

A group of parents appealed to the Pleasanton school board Tuesday to restore smaller class sizes and reading specialists.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 28, 2013, 7:44 AM

Comments (27)

Posted by hmmm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2013 at 9:40 am

PPIE - if you wanted to save class sizes, you should have let people donate for that, rather than tech specialists (no, they don't teach the kids tech) and literacy coaches (no, they don't teach the kids either, this is some new thing to hire people to coach our already well trained teachers). People said that they wanted to support lower class sizes and more class selection across the board and you made it impossible for parents to do this without contributing to things that they are not interested in.


Posted by Jill, a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Mar 28, 2013 at 2:35 pm

"Skinner said PPIE has decided against paying for a second literacy coach because parents don't support the district's switch from literacy specialists, who work directly with children, to literacy coaches, who work with teachers."

So PPIE is not going to spend the money as outlined on its own web page (Web Link)? Where will the money go then if elementary donations reach $276,000? I donated this week EXPECTING that my money would go toward an additional literacy coach and more tech specialist time, if the threshold was reached.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 28, 2013 at 5:34 pm

PPIE should not fund 'literacy coaches' that do not work in the classroom and do not work directly with children.

PPIE should fund reading specialists that work with children in a small group environment.

If PUSD has ditched reading specialists and Barton, PPIE should work with a group of parent volunteers to start a program outside of the PUSD's management (or mismanagement).


Posted by Milo Thompson III, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2013 at 7:49 pm

There are two issues here: (1) there would be plenty of money if you got rid of some of those high paid administrators and (2) if you helped kids with the extra money there wouldn't be enough money to pay for those highly paid administrators.

There's a word for circular logic ... I just can't remember it right now

Oxymoron ... No! Non Sequitur ... NO!Tautology ... close! Somebody please help.


Posted by Fred, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 28, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Snake swallowing its tail logic. Adds up to a big zero.


Posted by Sara, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 29, 2013 at 8:49 am

Thank you for all of the hard work, PPIE! You simply don't get thanked enough for all that you do to support our schools and programs. I feel lucky to live in a town that works together like this....we can do it!

Jen Skinner, Andrea Stokoe and others who have put their time into this -- THANK YOU! Some of you aren't even directly effected by the shortfall and are giving of your time and energy to better serve students.

Teachers, I see the amazing work you do day in and day out! Keep up the amazing work that you do and know that we see it and appreciate everything! You go above and beyond for my children and they know it and I know it!

We need CSR for first grade more than anything right now and our family will do our part to put the word out there! One more day!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2013 at 9:54 am

When you have administrators getting raises and perks, car allowances for people who should not have them, the superintendent hiring a PIO from Fremont under a different title, the list goes on.... how can you expect people to continue to donate? There is a reason we do not collect as much in donations as other districts, and also why we are one of the few districts that have failed to pass a parcel tax, more than once.

Hintzke used to be one of the good people on the board but lately her vote has shown she has moved, imo, to the yes people side.

There is no one advocating for the students.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 29, 2013 at 10:36 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"We asked you to cut car allowances," Chen said. "You went from $600 a month to $400 a month."

And the trend now is to roll the car allowance into the salary, and back at the full amount, which happened with the new contract for the Deputy Superintendent, in that case $7,200 (former Assistant Superintendent). So while it appears the car allowance has been eliminated, the cost is really just buried in the salary. This is the mentality that was used years ago to roll benefits into the salary, and now you hear how employees "pay their own benefits." In the future you may get furlough days, but you cannot go after the car allowance.


Posted by Ppie volunteer, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Dear hmmm and Jill,

Class size reduction is very expensive and costs more money than ppie has ever raised so what if we didn't make that level? The bottom line is that we need all of those things...tech, reading support, CSR, and more. The website and the decision by ppie at the beginning of this fundraising effort said reading specialists. In the meantime, the district changed priority from reading specialists to literacy coaches. So that doesn't reflect what we decided therefore we are having to do some re-evaluation. Car allowances aren't going to fund CSR. I get that it is symbolic. Hang with us at ppie, and work with us to do our best for getting our kids what they need in the classroom. Public education affects everyone in our community.


Posted by Confused, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Mar 29, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I'm confused. Why is it so easy to add $2.8 million in mostly administrative positions (see Web Link), but paying $100,000 toward CSR would be setting a dangerous precedent?


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2013 at 11:39 pm

"Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, "We asked you to cut car allowances," Chen said. "You went from $600 a month to $400 a month."

And the trend now is to roll the car allowance into the salary, and back at the full amount, which happened with the new contract for the Deputy Superintendent, in that case $7,200 (former Assistant Superintendent). So while it appears the car allowance has been eliminated, the cost is really just buried in the salary. This is the mentality that was used years ago to roll benefits into the salary, and now you hear how employees "pay their own benefits." In the future you may get furlough days, but you cannot go after the car allowance."

And that car allowance, once rolled into salary, will increase the pension payout effectively providing a car allowance for life. That lifetime car allowance WILL increase the unfunded pension liability that is diverting money from the classroom.

It seems to me once one district gets away something as egregious as rolling bonus payments or car allowance money into salary, so they don't have to answer questions about bonuses or car allowances in the future, while padding their future pension payouts; other districts attempt to do the same thing. It is time taxpayer's wake-up to the shenanigans that are diverting money from our children's education.


Posted by Flo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2013 at 12:49 am

... because there is no way on God's green earth, aside from the tsunami which is going to pour its salt water all over us and thus the earth will be brown, that administrators who drive all over the district should not be paying their own car and gas expenses. After all, it's during work time.

And, further, we need better scientific proof of this rolling car allowances into salaries business. Because, honestly, we don't know how to prove it. They take a cut in car allowances, but then the rascals get a raise, which sorta-kinna proves that the allowance has been rolled in ... but maybe it's just a raise. But, let's call it a shenanigan, just the same. Because it feeds our frenzied, witch hunter's need to go after teachers, administrators, and unions. Because this is really really important, and it's going to cause a tsunami just you wait and see. Glub, glub.

p.s. We also need to instruct Kathleen/Arnold - they are the same person, I presume - to get some instruction in using quotes. Even witch hunters need to know how to use quotation marks.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 30, 2013 at 7:37 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Yes keeping a log of the few miles driven is such an onerous task at $.565/mile. Web Link

There is proof from the district, but I'll let you do your own public information request this time.

So many apologies for not '" . . ."' my post from the article.


Posted by Lisa Hopkins, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Mar 31, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I was disappointed to be misquoted saying that there are "horrendous teacher stories". Here is what I said, exactly, at Tuesday's Board Meeting.
"Pleasanton has the privilege of employing great teachers, but there should be no assumption that because you haven't heard horrendous stories of teaching gone awry, that there is not a great disservice being done to our children and your students. By putting other needs of the district above class size, we are saying that the kids can come last. Your job is to provide the least restrictive environment for every student. Teachers are being asked to do more than ever these days but can do even less when their classrooms are packed to the brim with needy students. The students need attention, individualized instruction, management, free space to move, and a safe and open environment to learn. I have been in my children's classrooms and in spite of all the good that is happening, there is chaos in the numbers."


Posted by A Guy, a resident of Amador Estates
on Mar 31, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Lisa Hopkins said, "Your job is to provide the least restrictive environment for every student."

That language is specific to students with learning disabilities, not all students. If that's what you said at the meeting, it's no wonder that people who understand education misunderstood and/or misquoted you.


Posted by Lisa Hopkins, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Mar 31, 2013 at 8:04 pm

A Guy-
That is a statement for all educators to embrace. Why should only special education students benefit from that? When I was trained as an educator that was what I was taught. I didn't want to be quoted saying that horrendous things are happening when I clearly said differently.


Posted by A Guy, a resident of Amador Estates
on Mar 31, 2013 at 8:50 pm

So...what does "least restrictive environment" mean for a non-disabled student?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2013 at 11:00 am

A Guy:

I believe Lisa already answered your question. She said (from her post above):

" The students need attention, individualized instruction, management, free space to move, and a safe and open environment to learn. I have been in my children's classrooms and in spite of all the good that is happening, there is chaos in the numbers.""

I think that answers your question about a non-restrictive environment for non-disabled students. Btw, that is also something that applies to disabled students. All students can benefit from that way of thinking. Right now, classes are so packed that every student, special ed or not, is not receiving a quality education and environment, and yet we have a board of trustees spending money on administrative positions, on perks, on car allowances, on salary raises (remember when they said Luz C would have left?)


Posted by lessismore, a resident of Mohr Park
on Apr 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Dear CSR,
1) What about next year for funding?
2) How much money have kindergarten parents gave to CSR?
3) Why should I give if my kids are older and there are many needs in PUSD

For the people beating up on the administrators. We have had great schools for years and why do you think that is? Great companies do great things because of great leaders. Maybe school are the same!

Why are you not asking the same questions of the teacher union?

Same problem I always see a group of people with no vision.


Posted by A Guy, a resident of Civic Square
on Apr 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I love it when people use terms they really don't understand--Resident and Lisa, you two are comedy gems! I'll bet you're both the type to call a little headache a "migraine" and the 5k you jogged a "marathon."

Here's one to use at the next school board meeting--I'll be sure to watch and cheer you on: "Dear bored members, each and every child has "special needs," also, could you provide aides to each so that when they're engaged in team sports, we can ensure a '"level playing field" during soccer? An uneven one might allow the ball to roll away. Finally, we demand a "duty free lunch," where we can shop for imported goods without paying tariffs or other import taxes."

Please, please keep responding to this thread!


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 2, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

A guy, did you miss what Lisa posted: "When I was trained as an educator that was what I was taught."

Every child has special needs if you include those who excel at learning (and languish for more challenging work), those that struggle (and might benefit from extra attention), and those stuck in the middle (who are mostly ignored because, hey, a C is a passing grade). There are other ways to address class size, like adding floating teachers (30:2) in key subjects rather than just building more classrooms and lowering class size. Sports are a lousy comparison--very few will be looking to have a career in soccer or any other sport, and they will need a good education even if they do make it "big."


Posted by Ptown Res, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm

@A guy: Clearly you are a class C- troll with a slight misogynist bend: " I'll bet you're both the type to call a little headache a "migraine" and the 5k you jogged a "marathon.""

Without the educational jargon, it seems pretty clear that class sizes at a smaller than 30:1 ratio would benefit all students by giving them better access to individualized instruction. This is beneficial to the neediest as well as the smartest. Basic research backs this up. Funding it is the issue and PUSD needs to put this as a priority higher than any car allowance or additional administrative positions. If the commitment from the district was publically there, then PPIE fundraising would be much more effective.


Posted by A Guy, a resident of Civic Square
on Apr 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm

@Ptown Res: Clearly you are a D- reader with a slight "change the subject" bend.

I'm not talking about CSR, I'm talking about "least restrictive environment." I'm sorry you don't understand that that phrase has a specific special ed meaning when used in an education context (nor do Lisa or the other troll). If you don't know what a term means, you probably shouldn't defend its misuse.

However, nice try changing the subject, but you already pretty much failed when you tried to call me a misogynist because I used the words "migraine" and "marathon."


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

The words least, restrictive, and environment used singly or collectively are not singly or collectively restricted from use to describe the best teaching/learning environment for all. That it is used for special ed should tell you nothing more than its value to those, or any, student and teacher.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

For example:
-Mixed age classrooms
-Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options
-Uninterrupted blocks of work time
-Students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction
-Specialized educational materials

This could be any number of classroom models, but happens to be just set of descriptors for Montessori.


Posted by A Guy, a resident of Civic Square
on Apr 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Oh my god, now I see why everyone always gets so frustrated trying to reason with you. You just don't get it. Wow.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 4, 2013 at 12:17 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"least restrictive environment" . . . "that phrase has a specific special ed meaning" All I'm trying to say is that using the phrase in a special ed context can have its own meaning, but it does not exclude its use in another context when describing other classroom learning environments. Is it unreasonable for it to be used differently?


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