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Pleasanton school board ponders plan to restore $2.7 million in jobs

Original post made on Feb 14, 2013

The Pleasanton school district is considering adding some jobs that were cut in 2008, including a lead trainer for technology and restoring some jobs on a one-time basis.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 14, 2013, 6:45 AM

Comments (31)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 8:46 am

", including counselors and custodians in elementary, middle and high schools, and vice principals at elementary and middle schools, "

We do not need counselors in elementary schools. Come on, we are schools not therapists. If a child needs counseling, I am sure their ptown parents can afford their private therapists.

And Valerie, we do not need a librarian in HS. Ask around and most students can use the library on their own. If you do have a librarian, have that be a part time, classified position, rather than an expensive full time credentialed person. My children have never used the help of the librarian, and they are A students. Most students know how to use a library and many use the public libraries.

If PUSD spends money on positions we can do without (counselors in elementary, librarian), it will come at the expense of programs that directly affect the students, so do not do it, we don't have additional funds, and you guys just gave Luz Cazares a raise, so stop it!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 8:51 am

" Jeff Bowser pointed out that funding for class size reductions has been cut from the state budget."

Yet what little money we have, you vote yes on: raises for Luz Cazares, the hiring of a PIO (under a different title but you are not fooling anyone), etc.

(Portions of this post were removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff because it contains personal information about an individual or business.) You do not seem to made decicions, imo, that are in the best interest of the students ; instead you act as if every extra penny we have should be spent on raises and unnecessary admin positions. We may not go to board meetings, but we are aware of the awful decisions the board is making, especially the three yes people, which Jeff is one of (again, all of this IMO).


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 8:54 am

" You do not seem to made decicions"

should have read:

You do not seem to MAKE deciSions


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:09 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Chris Grant: "'I think the worst is behind us, but it's going to be a slow climb back,' he said."

That may be, but if you do not learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it. There is an ebb and flow to funding, so the not so good or bad years are also ahead of us.

That anything should be put back in place should be a longer and very thoughtful process. Jobs that are put back should be those that will not be cut and that can't be covered in some other way* (assuming no further horrendous years are ahead). The board should have many questions for staff and should consider doing more to reach out to parents. Hint: as Resident noted above, deputy superintendents and other district office positions will not be on the short list.

*Technology trainer - I would have many questions here. There are other non-people approaches to training of this nature, like online videos or purchasing DVD classes. Every person added to the payroll is also an addition to unfunded liabilities.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:16 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

As for high school librarians, perhaps Daniel Bradford will chime in. As I recall, many of these librarians work directly with teachers.

And vice-principals OR counselors--I don't think both are necessary at the elementary level and then only at the largest of the schools (Walnut Grove, long ago, had a principal and vice principal, but with over 1,000 students).


Posted by Jill, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:22 am

The article has "At least one board member sees a light at the end of the tunnel. Chris Grant said there's been job growth in California and that property values are rising."

Chris, the light at the end of the tunnel is a train coming at you in the form of pension and retiree liabilities! Even CalSTRS says they need $4.5 billion more per year to fund the liabilities. Also, don't forget about that benefit the district gives to retirees for free medical insurance that is 100% unfunded. That can be addressed right now by removing the benefit. Employees do not pay a cent into this plan so it is not like they are vested at all.

I had the same thought on libraries. I guess I don't know what their jobs entail and the service they provide to the students. Although I have been out of school for a long time, I don't think I every even talked with my school librarian when I went to school. A lot has changed, with the internet. Not saying the internet has all the right answers but not sure how a certified librarian would help. Not like a student is going to ask the librarian for help with the internet or if the information they found is true or not. Maybe somebody can enlighten us with the services the librarians provide to our students. Personally, I think programs like Barton's for reading are a better use of money.


Posted by William Tell, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:41 am

Pleasanton schools have such a great reputation that most people are content to let the current people on the board continue to run (ruin) things. But our board is showing that in times of crises (budget crisis), they will do the dumb thing - try to bloat admin, cut teachers, increase class sizes, etc. Hopefully people will wake up and vote the board out next time. Hopefully, someone competent will finally run.

Instructional coaches are a waste of money. What do they even do? The reason for the 150 point API disparity is most likely due to demographics - e.g., those schools with the lower scores have a higher proportion of kids who are English as a Second language.


Posted by Typical, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 10:12 am

Where do I start with how wrong the district priorities are?

They want to spend 2.7 million when we are only getting 276,000 extra from the state? Where is the extra 2.5 coming from? And sorry that 2.5 million would pay for a LOT of class size reduction and ending the staggered day disaster.

Speaking of staggered days, is it just our school that has a ridiculous fitness video once a week now for PE since they miscalculated PE hours and I guess our PE teachers are not contracted to do the correct hours so the kids are swinging their arms in their claasroom around to some sad outdated video instead of learning? Yes, this has recently been put in place and both of my children said it is during the time that they used to learn.

Teacher coaches instead of teachers??? I don't think I need to say more on this one except that the rationale for this seems to be about different test scores between different schools. This is because of demographics, not teacher ability and they know it. We have good teachers here.

VPs - really, that's our priority after years of cuts?

And the comment about high school librarians - haven't we heard enough rants from a previous high school librarian to know that is not what we need as a top priority.

Real teachers in classrooms - that is what the students need and that is what this while plan completely avoids. Absolutely tragic. How can the management and board be so unfocused? I am absolutely shocked that powerful people are using their power without a shred of care for the real stakeholders, the children. Sad.


Posted by Ptown native, a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:13 am

I love how the 'spenders' always say:
"It's a ONE-TIME COST".
It's NEVER a one-time cost!


Posted by Amador Mom, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I wish the school board would consider spending the limited resources on the basics of reading and writing. Why are programs such as the reading specialists or Barton always the first on the Board's list to be cut? Why develop another program such as coaching, in lieu of funding a direct instructional opportunity for the students?


Posted by High School Mom, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Let's not forget about academics at the high schools. There were talented, motivated sophomores that were not allowed to sign up for advanced science classes because of over-crowded classes. This was unfortunate for these students and not good for our country. We need to encourage kids that are interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math by opening up more sections and making it easier to enroll in these classes.


Posted by Jill, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm

"Amador Mom", the reason that reading programs are the first to cut is the district is trying to extort more money from the taxpayers. If they have a parcel tax and say it is for reading programs, people will go for it. If they say a tax is for admin, people will not go for it. So they are willing to decimate our reading programs now in order to extract more money out of us in the future. So the district is financing the admins now, including the raise to Luz, and letting the good programs fall apart so they can go to the taxpayer and say "give us more money or reading is gone forever."


Posted by Daniel Bradford, a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2013 at 2:31 pm

If you want to know whether or not librarians provide an essential service at the high schools, ask:

Patti Stein, Teacher Librarian @ Foothill High
Erik Scherer, Teacher Librarian @ Amador Valley High

Those are the district's two credentialed librarians and I'm sure they can enlighten you.

I do not work for the district and have not for the past two years. As such, I have no comment to make on this or any other matter concerning PUSD, now or at any time in the future. It's your district and make of it what you will.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm

"If you want to know whether or not librarians provide an essential service at the high schools, ask:

Patti Stein, Teacher Librarian @ Foothill High

Erik Scherer, Teacher Librarian @ Amador Valley High

Those are the district's two credentialed librarians and I'm sure they can enlighten you. "


OR ask the sudents instead! As I said before, my children have never used the services of the librarians. Sure, maybe the librarian keeps the library in shape (orders new books, etc), but that is NOT a full time job, certainly does NOT need a certified person to do it, and parent volunteers can help.

I agree with a post above that instead of librarians, we should focus on reading programs like Barton.


Posted by Jill, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Actually the question is not whether librarians are important. The question is, are librarians more important now than reading programs?

You have a finite amount of money. You need to prioritize things. Sounds like that is not occurring now, or it is being prioritized based on the needs of the district office, not the classroom/student needs.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 14, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Good point, Jill. Without reading specialists (or Barton) working directly with students, there may not be much need for a librarian at the high school level.

Daniel, we have not always agreed, but I've appreciated your perspective as a former staff member. I'm sorry you will not continue to comment and hope you were not pressured to step back.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Yes, it would be nice to keep everything, librarians included, but with limited funds we need to keep cuts away from students. Librarians may be nice to have, but it is a lot better to keep the staff and programs needed to make sure every student in Pleasanton succeeds. It is bad enough we have a group of board members who quickly agree to raises for people like Luz even though they know money is tight. Let's not continue making more mistakes: think about the students first!

Valerie and Hintzke: even if your vote is symbolic (outnumbered by the three yes people), please, please do the right thing. We need to be conservative with the money, and spend what we have oin programs and staff that directly benefit the students. Counselors in elementary? Nice but not needed, we can't afford them. Same with viceprincipals and librarians. We can do without them for now, restore the positions if we ever reach a healthy economic situation. And please, no more raises for any admin, and perhaps think of letting go of some, like the PIO. Money is tight, right? Show us you can manage a budget, please!


Posted by Parent of 2 kids, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2013 at 10:49 am

Counselors for all grade levels are vital to kids' wellbeing and academic performance. Some kids have learning difficulties that can be more quickly addressed by school counselors. Plus school counselors can more easily involve adults in the child's learning environment to support him/her. Some concerns may not be so severe as to require taking the child to a therapist (plus it can take 6-8 weeks to get an appointment). A school counselor can help develop a plan of action, monitor progress, adjust plans accordingly and the child can get back on track with learning quickly. School counselors can also help parents recognize whether the concern might just be normal childhood behaviors. School counselors do not replace therapists but can help families deal with some concerns efficiently and effectively.


Posted by Patti Stein, Librarian, a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Research from throughout the United States shows that professionally staffed, well-stocked school libraries increase student achievement by 10-20% as measured on standardized tests. Credentialed school library media teachers help guide students in becoming critical thinkers by examining and evaluating sources before using information. School libraries provide up-to-date appropriate books and reading opportunities to all students at the school. No individual classroom can provide sufficient reading materials for all student interests and reading levels, which help make the library the most cost-effective classroom in the school.
Credentialed teacher librarians collaborate with classroom teachers across all subject and grade levels, supporting state standards and providing information literacy skills to students. Through knowledgeable collection development, school librarians open the door to literacy for students of all abilities. When a student walks through the library doors and says that they do not like reading, I am able to work with that student to find a book he or she will like. Many students who tell me they hate reading are soon coming back to check out more books. There is so much more that the credentialed librarian does every day to support both teachers and students. I encourage students and their families to explore the many valuable services and materials available at your school library.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2013 at 8:30 pm

"Counselors for all grade levels are vital to kids' wellbeing and academic performance."

OK, schools are here to educate, not act as counseling services to every child that may need one. Schools teach, doctors take care of medical needs and therapists take care of counseling needs. Schools need to focus on teaching, and if a student is so disturbed that is in need of counseling, he/she must seek that help outside of school through his/her private insurance; if that student is low income, there are government agencies to go to for help.

We do not have the money to provide services that are simply not the responsibility of the school.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2013 at 8:33 pm

" Credentialed school library media teachers help guide students in becoming critical thinkers by examining and evaluating sources before using information."

And yet my children never even knew the librarian. THey used the library, saw the person there but never interacted with him/her. All of them are good students, critical thinkers, and college bound. My children learned how to use the public library at a young age, and it had nothing to do with a school librarian.

Librarians are not the ones who teach the skills needed to succeed. Teachers and parents do that.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm

One more thing about counselors: while I do not think counselors in elementary are needed, in HS and middle school they are, since they help students with their class schedule, transcripts, etc.


Posted by nomad, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm

How about parents help with class schedule or educated kids work it out themselves etc.? Or have they made things too complicated for that? I never needed any of this extra help - why can't we let kids grow up and make their own decisions with the help of their parents?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2013 at 10:02 pm

"How about parents help with class schedule or educated kids work it out themselves etc.? "

I am all for that, but we are not allowed. Let me clarify: what I mean by help with class schedules is when there need to be changes. Some students complete summer work at the community college and must replace a chosen class for another. I would love to be able to do that but I am not allowed, a counselor must do it.

As for transcripts, again, give me the authority and I would be happy to do it, for free, but as it is now, only the counseling office does that.


Posted by agreed, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2013 at 12:00 am

When I went to school my mom volunteered as a librarian, as did many moms. Today that function is controlled by the unions. I do not believe the unions would allow non paid volunteers. Non paid volunteers do not pay union dues nor do they provide union jobs.


Posted by Jamie Hintzke, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2013 at 11:57 pm

It was I, Jamie Hintzke, Trustee, PUSD who asked that staff find funds to bring back a half time library assistant at each of the high schools - not a credentialed librarian. The reason for my request - In 2008 we had a full time credentialed librarian at the district office, who oversaw all of the books media purchase and made sure everything followed the curriculum purchase plans and that all books being purchased were appropriate - this position no longer exists. At the high school libraries we had an additional library assistant for a total of of one credentialed librarian and two library assistants at each high school. Today we have 2 credentialed librarians and 2 library assistants for the entire district for a total of 5,000 high school students at both high schools.

A credentialed teacher librarian is a professional who has a library media credential or masters in library science and additional education to obtain a teaching credential. One of our high school library assistants also has a masters in library science.

The libraries have a collection of over 24,000 books, classrooms and a computer lab. The teacher librarians spend the bulk of their day in classrooms teaching students how to do research, how to properly annotate and put together bibliographies. Most of our students can do Internet research beyond google because they are learning this at school in the classroom. The library is also an integral part of the classroom learning - teachers bring students to the library to be able to look for research materials and books they need to read for class. Also with common core standards coming the requirement to read non-fiction will be significantly increased. Students will need guidance.

So you still may not see the value in the libraries or how they are staffed, but there are 1,000 students who use the library everyday with just two staff. I am sure the Principals would be happy to allow a library visit during the day so you can see it for yourself. My request for one half time library assistant to be restored at Foothill and Amador is so that the students can be better served and have the academic support they need. If a half time person could be added at each high school the library assistants could stagger their time and the library could stay open later so students who play sports or other after school activities can use the computers and the space for homework.

Feel free to contact me evenings or weekends if you would like to share your concerns, suggestions or would like to understand what is happening. My contact info can be found on the district web site.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Feb 17, 2013 at 10:42 am

First, thank you Patti Stein and Jamie Hintzke for your comments above and your willingness to put forward a competent and reasonable thought process regarding the role of librarians in the district. Jamie, I would ask and encourage you and the board to engage further on the following: 1.) the need for counselors in middle and high schools. The prevailing opinion is one of little or no value add, as we see in the comments above. The job isn't solely about handling transcripts, and changing courses -there are a wide range of student issues (home, personal, psychological) that are dealt with by the counselors both to help the individual and reduce the ripple effect and disruption within the learning environment across the student body. 2.) You and the board should, both on this site and the PW paper, make it a priority take the opportunity to further expand on the background behind decisions and district priorities (as you have done here). It will, I hope, diffuse some of the anger and assumption of incompetence that seems to prevail in Pleasanton regarding all issues relating to, and people involved in, education, facilitate a more productive/knowledgeable discussion within the community, and provide support for teachers, counselors, librarians, and classified employees of this district.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 17, 2013 at 10:53 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Jamie, Thank you for the thorough explanation. I think I have several questions, more for you to think about than a need for you to respond. Are these positions what parents, students, and teachers will value most when spending these funds? Do spending funds on these positions create the most value for all students/teachers for learning? What is the long-term, full financial load of adding these positions? Are these one time funds; will the positions be added and then face cuts in the near future (or would other positions face cuts to keep these positions)? These questions apply to any positions the board is considering, including counselors and VPs. And last would be, is spending this money the most cost effective; aren't their outstanding loans and unfunded liabilities to be covered?


Posted by Tea Party Expresso, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 17, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Thanks to Kathleen, because I'm sure you guys have never once considered the questions she's raising not to get a response but because she thinks you likely have never thought about such questions before. It begs the question of what you DO think about, but that's another matter.

More importantly, where do you guys get off spending my money on unsustainable practices and unfunded liabilities? Have you ever read a single word in the Constitution of these United States that has permitted such larceny? Language is important, you know. Just another question to think about!


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 17, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I actually think we have two board members who consider the questions I've asked, and they both have a record of asking staff to step up with better explanations. I certainly do not support unsustainable practices, but I do think filling the hole on unfunded liabilities is important.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm

" The teacher librarians spend the bulk of their day in classrooms teaching students how to do research, how to properly annotate and put together bibliographies"

By now I have asked many, many students, my kids included, and they were all wondering when this happened? They have not seen the librarian in the classrooms doing any kind of teaching. Can you please tell us when and which schools this happens at?


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