Response to editorial Schools & Kids, posted by John Casey, Superintendent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2008 at 3:42 pm
I would like to thank Jeb Bing and the Pleasanton Weekly for the January 18 Editorial, “School district braces for state budget cuts.” The school district greatly appreciates the support shown by the paper and the community. I would like to clarify a couple of statements made in the editorial.
Through a thorough review of our budget this year (2007/08) and all possible reductions in spending, I believe that, if the Governor does take money back from school districts this year, Pleasanton Unified will be able to operate through June without layoffs. However, if the budget for next year (2008/09) goes through as proposed, Pleasanton Unified would have to cut 4 to 4.5 million dollars from our budget. Since over the past decade we have already pared many programs back, a cut of this magnitude would not be possible without a reduction in personnel and deep cutbacks in services to students.
In regards to enrollment, the demographer’s report did project a decline of 71 students next year. The state supports districts in declining enrollment situations for one year, but after that, there would be a real loss in revenue. 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.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2008 at 6:54 am
Parents..... please stay involved with school fundraising events. Even if it's giving your teacher $10 at the beginning of the year to buy supplies - it makes all the difference in the world. If we all just saved those Boxtops, or bought just one roll of gift think about the money that could accumulate for our schools. It pains me to see that budgets may be potentially cut and that we can lose some of our precious teachers. Kids and education first. Please remember that!
Posted by AL, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 24, 2008 at 10:01 am
The one thing that I find disturbing about schools now days is the way the fundraiser money is spent. They seem to think it is important to spend money on more computers, more software, fancy overhead projectors, etc. I am sorry, but in this day and age I just find some of these things unnecessary. When I was in elementary school in the 1980's it was nice to have computers at school because not all of the children had them at home. Nowdays, even low income children have them at home, which negates the point of playing computer games at school.
As a former educator myself, I say spend more money on hiring good teachers, more books, supplies (paper, art supplies, manipulatives, etc.). Maybe some of the budget cuts will force some of these administrators to get "back to basics" so teachers can TEACH rather than carting a whole class off to the computer lab to play games or fiddle around with the latest technology.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 24, 2008 at 10:28 am
AL brings up a good point. As an active Internet participant and observer since 1994 I witnessed a rise in people looking for problems that fit the technology rather than technology that fit the problems. Then teachers were stuck trying to figure out how to incorporate the new technology into their curriculum instead of finding gaps in their teaching plans that the new technology could address. A waste.
Posted by Shelley, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Jan 24, 2008 at 1:14 pm
This has been my problem with the idea of "teaching technology." The education sector in the U.S. emphasizes this way too much. Students need critical thinking skills. Libraries are also culprits of being "technolusts" (Meredith Farkas, Building Academic Library 2.0, keynote speech: Web Link).
Posted by A parent, a resident of another community, on Jan 24, 2008 at 3:38 pm
Al has a valid point. However, as a parent, I cannot possibly justify sending the kids to school for so many hours if they are not going to have some time at the computer lab or music class for instance. If we truly go back to just teaching (math, reading...) and then let the rest be done at home, then kids should be in school no more than 4 hours - should end the school day at 12:30, and have lunch at home, as well as do all that good stuff no longer done at school, like computer lab. Kids (elementary school) simply do not need to be in school so many hours if the good stuff like music and computer lab is no longer part of the curriculum.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 24, 2008 at 5:34 pm
I think you misunderstood my comment. I'm not talking about teaching kids how to use computers like in a computer lab or a computer class. I'm referring to attempts I've seen by teachers to incorporate new technology into their regular classes such as English or Math when there isn't a real need for that. Just an example that may or may not reflect reality: Imagine sitting in English class and the teacher asks everyone to get at a computer and start editing Wikipedia. Is that conducive to learning English? And is that where the money is going? Not on computers for a computer class but computers so kids can edit Wikipedia as part of an English class?
Posted by Lawrence, a resident of the Sycamore Heights neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2008 at 10:29 pm
I hate to say it, but there's no happy medium here. And let's face it.....both conventional learning and implementing ways to use new technology are crucial - especially in this day and age. I think there needs to be a combination of both integrated into one. Let's also hire quality teachers who are capable of executing just that.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2008 at 3:20 pm
Back on topic....
Perhaps the Pleasanton Superintendent should share the burden of the budget crisis. Follow San Ramon’s lead and put a hold on all administrative salary increases. Roll back the administrative salary increase that slid through just before the cuts were announced.