Parents protest plan to bring back staggered reading Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Jun 28, 2012 at 9:06 am
Parents upset with a change in schedules at elementary schools packed the Pleasanton school district's boardroom Tuesday night, telling staff members that the change was done too quickly and not given enough thought.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 28, 2012, 7:44 AM
Posted by local, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm
Once again, the School District forgets they work for the people, not the other way around. As long as they collect their salaries and pensions, have a tremendous amount of time off, have their car allowances, free health insurance when you retire, and other benefits, they are happy.
This last minute negotiation that they could not plan for and talk with the public about is nonsense. The administration has been talking with the union leadership for a long time on all of this and there have been hours of closed sessions at the school board before each meeting; so this is not something that ended in their lap that they did not know about.
I acknowledge it is difficult to plan with the way the state finances the schools. However, they should have been doing some longer term planning and contingency planning. The administration failed there. Instead they are focusing on a school master plan and asking parents whether they think the schools need better service access roads and better curb appeal. They should not be spending a minute of time on that. That is like asking the passengers of the Titanic what kind of curtains would be best in their rooms.
Posted by Nurse Shark, a resident of the Bridle Creek neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm
local is right: since the district works for the people, they should indulge the wishes of each varied individual, even if there's no way those wishes can be paid for. Anything else would be irresponsible. Just like how, since I pay taxes that pay the police's salaries, the Pleasanton police department should do my bidding. It's called democracy, people!
Posted by Nurse Shark, a resident of the Bridle Creek neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 4:42 pm
I heard a lot of people complaining that the drug-sniffing dogs at the high school parking lots would cost money too, but that turned out to be false. So my question to the previous poster is, do you actually have numbers that compare the costs, or are you just making assumptions and passing them off as facts?
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm
I didn't realize the staggered reading would save money. Maybe it's a good thing then. (Big N) Nurse Shark, how will it do that?
I was under the impression that crossing guards would be needed for an additional hour, buses would make double runs, office admin will process double attendance, all teachers and staff will work an extra hour (at no cost?), before/after school care will end later in the morning and start earlier at night, school drop-off/pick-up will be doubled, etc.
Is all that going to be no cost? If so, that's very nice of everyone to volunteer their time. I really do appreciate it if it will be.
Posted by strange, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 5:04 pm
There are no cost savings. Teachers work the same hours. Kids get out or start 45 minutes late or early so they lose part of their school day. But it's just a change of the kid's schedules, it's all on their back, so no cost savings to the district.
Steve has outlined some of the extra costs the district / city will incur. If you had been to the meeting you would have heard about the many head office staff hours that will be spent on this change. And because one session of PE will be dropped next year, it will all have to change back. Or they will just mess around more with the kid's schedules now that they've got this change in though the gates.
Posted by strange, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm
Nurse shark, in other districts they do things like talk to the community and show cost / benefit differences between different plans. Not here.
You implied it would cost money if we didn't make this change:
" . . . they should indulge the wishes of each varied individual, even if there's no way those wishes can be paid for".
These wishes don't need to be paid for - they just need to leave things alone and not cut the school day for the students. The schools will be open exactly the same amount of time - the students just have to start late or leave early, therefore losing 3 hours of education a week.
Posted by Nurse Shark, a resident of the Bridle Creek neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm
I apologize--having re-read Steve and "strange"'s posts, it is clear that "strange" is not repeating Steve's assumptions. Their assumptions are very different.
Where Steve claims that teachers and all staff will work an extra hour, strange claims that they will work the same hours. Steve claims the need for more pick-ups and drop-offs and extra bus runs, but are these costs the district pays for? I wasn't aware Pleasanton had its own school buses these days. In addition, strange says that the head office staff will have to spend time on this change, but aren't they salaried anyway? They're not getting raises for this, are they? If not, sounds like we're getting more work for the same price. Are we complaining about getting more from our money?
As I said--totally different assumptions. I'm sorry for misrepresenting their imaginings in my last post.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 5:54 pm
Lydiksen has at least one bus, maybe two.
Are we imagining this change? Whew, now I'm relieved. However, I think Nurse Shark is trying to be funny (insulting?).
Otherwise, it's interesting that the teacher's union has agreed to more work for teachers and staff without increased salary. Like I said, I thought that's very nice if they are actually taking on more work for the same pay.
I think part of the problem is that we're guessing at facts that only the school board and teacher's union possess. It makes these discussions pointless and we generally are forced to accept whatever is shoved down our throats, unless a whistleblower leaks something.
Which is why I asked earlier if my child is scheduled for the late reading (which I find next to useless), can I take them home instead? I find that my child reads far more at home than at school anyway.
Posted by strange, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm
Steve: the hours for teachers stay the same. They will have 1.5 hours a day now with the smaller class sizes 15-1 and the rest of the day is now 30-1 student to teacher ratio. So it is the same start and finish and breaks as in previous years for teachers.
The students have to arrive 45 minutes late or leave 45 minutes early to accomodate the smaller classes at the beginning / end of the day. Therefore the students benefit from 15-1 for 45 minutes but also lose 45 minutes of their school day. It's a lot of days lost if you extend it to the school year.
Posted by Nurse Shark, a resident of the Bridle Creek neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm
@strange: I'd like to be wrong about this, but I get the feeling Steve's not going to be swayed by the facts (just one example: he can't seriously think that the D.O. administrators are actually part of the teacher's union--I think he's being a little disingenuous there). Might not be worth your effort.
Posted by strange, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm
Nurse shark, only a call to the district will quantify financial costs. It was not designed as a cost savings measure as you implied.
There will be a group of students (the late group) who may cost the district money by having extra staff for the second drop off period. The ones going home early may need an extra time period with crossing guards (a city cost I know) and staff outside to guide pickups, but maybe the district will drop those services for those students, I'll give you that.
There was talk in the meeting about expanding the already full kids club areas so more kids could fit in, but maybe they won't do that either. Maybe parents will run the after school homework clubs and activities being planned by the district and it will be deemed legal. Maybe all kids bussed in (the ones that need extra help) will be placed in a morning or afternoon session, so no extra cost there.
There will be considerable financial costs and stress to working parents who will not know their children's schedule until a couple of weeks after the school year has started, but I understand that isn't a district consideration. "We can party like it's 1999 . . . ". It has cost parent goodwill, and that is worth something here.
The change only appears to be valid for a year as the PE session (see the article) that enables all this was brought back for a year at the "last minute" and is a one off save, there is no funding for it next year. If the Nov. taxes don't pass, more cuts are projected for next year.
Posted by Nurse Shark, a resident of the Bridle Creek neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 10:45 pm
Nice posturing, Kathleen. Unfortunately for you, people do remember that you led the mob in voting down the parcel tax that would have avoided this. Still, coming here and saying "I lament for the children" makes for nice PR. Especially now that you no longer have children in our schools.
Posted by fed up, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm
Just exactly what did you all think was going to happen when Jerry Brown took over? Ha, oh i guess you all just thought what he did before and how he destroyed oakland schools was just an accident. You all voted for him now you're all crying because your kids are getting the shaft. You got what you wanted ! hope you're all happy now!!! and for the rest of us that had some common sense and knew better, Well i guess we had better get out the books and start teaching our kids ourselves because the handle on the toilet has just been flushed and the education system is going down the drain!
Posted by Holly Sanders, a member of the Lydiksen Elementary School community, on Jun 29, 2012 at 8:34 am
The number of children in 1st - 3rd grade classes will be moving up to an average of 30 this coming school year, when it was 20 just four years ago. I have been volunteering in the class for the last 4 years, and you can directly see the challenges with the increase to 25 the last two years. This move from 25 to 30 will make a huge impacting including the challenge of having enough physical space to accommodate all those young, wiggling bodies, behavior management, and the ability to have focused time with individual or small groups regardless of their capabilities.
Reading is key to the foundation of each child's learning, and having the staggered reading programs (early and late start) allows teacher to have only an average of 15 children for 45 minutes on M, T, Th, and F and work in small groups on reading activities. During this small group time, I think teachers will also be able to better learn about each child's abilities, what drives and motivates them, etc. which will benefit that student and the whole class when they have the remainder of the day with the 30 kids.
This type of schedule is already in effect in several Kindergarten classes here in Pleasanton with success, and in several districts around us, and this program was in effect in Pleasanton prior to the Class Size Reduction measure that was implemented about 15 years ago. Pleasanton will still be over in the required minutes for instructional time, and the teachers are working the same # of hours. I do recognize the challenge it will be for some families, especially those working if their daycare isn't already a full day, and I think setting up some community task forces to look at options to relieve this would be beneficial (i.e. onsite and offsite enrichment programs, co-op babysitting, increase in child care offerings, etc.)
For me, it boils down to quality vs. quantity, and we'll do whatever it takes to manage our schedule for our daughter and other students to benefit from this time with their teacher. It seems to be the best option during these very lean times where the state continues to pull away needed funding for schools that we used to receive in the past. .
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 10:13 am
Okay, I finally understand! I'm still not sure how it can be done without increased costs, but we'll see.
I also really can't see how this will hurt the kids. They've currently got so much extra time that's dedicated to parties, fun days, days returning from holidays, days before holidays, weeks before breaks, etc. that 45 minutes/day less isn't a big deal. It seems like most of their work is done at home anyway.
My takeaway is that coordination of dropoffs and pickups will be the most difficult part, and I think we all hope the schools will be helpful and work with parents.
In the end, we all need to do our part to support over 500 state agencies; each of which are vital to our state infrastructure. Education for our kids may need to change to allow these agencies to survive this short, 4+ year downturn in the economy.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 10:33 am Kathleen Ruegsegger is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Steve, the parties and all that you list will not end. I think the value added for reading will be lost in other subjects. Time will tell.
There were many enrichment programs when this program was used in the past--after school care which was often run by the parent/teacher groups (now mainly PTAs). Some of the offerings were excellent. Some schools, not surprisingly, were better than others at putting the after school enrichment in place. The rules about who can be in contact with kids and how a campus can be used have changed, so this may not be as easy to do this time. Again, we'll see how families adjust.
Posted by steven, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 11:16 am
In case I have'nt made myself clear. Im against anything that raises my taxes. We should be cutting not adding. Teachers and administrators don't contribute anything positive to the economy like people in the private sector (bartenders, hedgefund managers, bankers). Anything that cuts from the vial evel growth called the public secter is a plus. All else is a miness.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Applauding Holly Sanders. Thanks for a great post!
I really don't understand all the opposition. I'd be happy for my child to have the opportunity to learn reading with 14 other children, rather than with 29 others. Yes, the scheduling might be a challenge. A few years ago I had a hard time with "Late Start Day" when I went back to work. It was a headache, but we made it happen.
I'm only sorry that the CSR is gone. Teaching 20 young ones can be a challenge, but 30? I'd support any opportunity to have a smaller class size, even if for just 45 minutes.
I also think a lot is made of "instructional time". I agree with the idea, "quality over quantity". For "quality" you need talented, skilled, teachers. It's not really about the "minutes", it's about what is accomplished during those minutes. I work with preschoolers. It's amazing what I can accomplish in even 15 minutes because I am highly skilled. I have seen other teachers who simply sit and do nothing with the children during that same 15 minutes. If they had 30 minutes of that type of interaction compared to my 15, it would not be "better".
Posted by steven, a resident of the Parkside neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm
I wish steven wouldn't speak for me. We need schools to drive the point home to parents that Sac-town needs your money. Our Democrat politicians can only remain in office as long as their campaign coffers exceed the Repugs, and "you know who" funds the Repugs: Corporations, Banks, Big-OIL, Big-Tobacco!
You see, it works like this:
1. A big donor contributes to a patriotic Democrat.
2. The patriotic Democrat nominates the donor or family member to an agency board.
3. The agency receives state funding.
4. The state funding more than pays back the donor.
So we certainly can't remove even 1% of 500+ state agencies that have overlapping responsiblities because it's payback! And we certainly can't reduce any of our patriotic political staffs.
Instead, we tell the voting public that we need more tax money because we can't fund our Police, Firemen and Teachers because that's the only cuts people really notice. If we cut anything in Sacramento, the only people who'd suffer are the patriotic politicians and their influencial donors. Then we'd have less money, and no one would understand why we needed so much before. Who does that benefit? The Repugs that's who!
Our complicated campaign financing system needs a multitude of agencies and cuts to schools, police and fire to keep the politicians, lobbyists and donors flush.
If those tea-partyers deny the cash our patriots need, then our schools will simply die on the vine. Sac-town doesn't need our schools, they need our cash. So step up and contribute more!
A parcel tax is vitally needed because prop 13 has severely restricted the ability to increase property taxes, and the parcel tax would hide the future reductions in education funding and keep our politicians from angering the teacher's union.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm
"Steve, the parties and all that you list will not end."
That's a pity, because there really are far too many parties and the climate they create doesn't send the kids the right message about the fact that learning, while fun, also requires self-disciplined effort.
The end-of-year daycare-type nonsense (after STAR testing is done) is also non-productive time.
Being "118 minutes over the state legal minimum" is not something to be proud of as a city. That's less than 1 minute per school day...
I also fail to understand why the teachers cannot place the 2nd and 3rd graders into reading groups based on their prior year's effort. I can see how kindergarteners and incoming students might have a burst of learning over the summer, but I suspect that 1st grade and 2nd grade scores could be used to place 2nd and 3rd graders with relatively few issues. If a placement turns out to be inappropriate, a consultation with the parents can lead to a new arrangement.
Posted by clueless, a member of the Mohr Elementary School community, on Jun 29, 2012 at 7:26 pm
Anonymous, I agree with you about the after STAR daycare nonsense, but it is actually a year round disaster at some schools. We send children to school for weeks to have the teachers do nothing more than push the play button for cartoon after cartoon that the kids are forced to watch. That is, that is the case when they aren't busy rehearsing for endless musical performances and plays and talent shows.
Can we have Pleasanton hire real people who are qualified who know how to run real schools?
All the TVs need to be taken out of each classroom. In the old days, one TV was wheeled around the school for occasional use. No more. Now the kids are forced to watch TV and see internet videos most of the day.
Posted by john, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 11:36 am
"A parcel tax is vitally needed because prop 13 has severely restricted the ability to increase property taxes, and the parcel tax would hide the future reductions in education funding and keep our politicians from angering the teacher's union."
It would be hilarious if it weren't sad that there are people in Pleasanton who think that not passing a parcel tax in Pleasanton will have any effect at all on what politicians in Sacramento spend money on or how they raise funding. I've got news for you. It hasn't made the slightest bit of difference to them one way or the other. You aren't "starving the beast" or forcing the whole system to crash so that it can be rebuilt. One little school district without a parcel tax isn't amounting to a hill of beans in Sacramento. The effects of our one little school district not having a parcel tax are:
A) People in Pleasanton don't pay a school parcel tax (school parcel taxes are defined in proposition 13).
B)Pleasanton schools have cut programs and fired teachers that they would otherwise not have cut and fired.
Those are the effects of Pleasanton not passing are parcel tax. Sending a message to politicians in Sacramento is not one of those effects.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm Kathleen Ruegsegger is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
The parcel tax most likely (you'd have to ask those that voted No) didn't pass because of the past bad stewardship of the district's finances and a lack of transparency/honesty about things like the cash out refinancing of the facilities bonds. I believe this community is smart enough to realize that there was no impact to Sacramento. They certainly don't pay much attention to voters on any topic unless they are running for election/re-election.
Posted by Nurse Shark, a resident of the Bridle Creek neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 2:27 pm
Kathleen is right--people like her voted down the parcel tax because of the past, and so the only right (and righteous!) thing to do was to punish children to make a point. And boy, those people at the district have learned a harsh lesson! Hooray!
Posted by steven, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm
I don't appreciate Kathleen Roosinubber speaking out for me. In fact, I wish she'd keep her big nose out of my affares. I voted against the parcel tax because I think Atlas shoulnt of been made to shrug again. Each new tax does that. No new taxes I say.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm Kathleen Ruegsegger is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I don't know that the administration learned anything either. And many people are donating instead. Happy to pay the tax, NS and "steven," under, you know, the specific language. I'll be unhappy to pay the tax, but would be made to do so, if one should pass under some other scenario. So, find 300 grand and a few hundred hours of volunteer time and run the experiment again.
Posted by john, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 10:10 pm
"When did all the TV watching start? My kids have been out of grade school for a while...I don't recall them talking about movies, etc."
As far as I know it hasn't. I've volunteered in my younger kid's class and haven't seen it, and my older one says hasn't seen much TV. Could be some classes are doing it, or it could be someone is exaggerating.
Posted by hmmm, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jul 1, 2012 at 9:38 pm
Haven't been here for that long, but I didn't see / hear anything about Sacramento at all in the last parcel tax. It seemed to be a dispute about whether the money raised by the parcel tax would pay for escalating costs, salary increases via step and column, in a downturn or whether it would pay for programs for the kids. Simple as that.
If costs were controlled and people knew that their money would go on defined things that would benefit the children, people seemed likely to vote yes. People aren't going to vote for salary increases. Many places that have parcel taxes are facing similar problems with needing to make cuts - it's never going to be enough if costs are going up and the state isn't paying for the escalating costs the way things are stuctured here.
Posted by john, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jul 2, 2012 at 10:37 pm
Go back and read what a lot of people posted during all the Measure G business. There was plenty of talk of sending a message to Sacramento.
" People aren't going to vote for salary increases. "
San Ramon did. Palo Alto, Walnut Creek, and many others did. I don't know of any instance of a school district in the Bay Area comparable in quality to PUSD that passed a parcel tax under the condition that automatic, scheduled salary increases would be frozen.
Posted by clueless, a member of the Mohr Elementary School community, on Jul 2, 2012 at 10:55 pm
And I don't know of any instance of a school district in the Bay Area comparable in stupidity to PUSD that have wasted $15 M of taxpayer money for lawsuits.
After all, what other gov agency is idiotic enough to violate State law in not putting a construction contract out for public bid (Neal)? PUSD.
And who also goes out of its way to throw away a deal for a developer to advance up to $8.5 M for a school that became null and void because after the first week of June 2001 and an initial agreement was signed, all the PUSD big wigs went on summer vacation and wouldn't return Signature Properties calls? PUSD.
And also after the Neal agreement is signed, takes out 2 huge loans to build non-critical facilities which pretty much guarantees PUSD will default on the $8.5 M loan from Signature and never pay Signature back? PUSD.
And who has squandered the Sycamore Fund from the sale of South Pleasanton property to Greenbrier because it can't get its act together? PUSD
Posted by hmmm, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jul 3, 2012 at 9:06 am
If the aim is to keep S&C, that is fine with me. But if it is marketed as paying for the student's programs, reducing class sizes etc., you will then have to calculate the cost of S&C to the budget over the time of the parcel tax and then add on the cost of the programs that we would like to save over the same time. Then it can honestly be said that the parcel tax will help the students and teachers in this town.
So if S&C adds 12 million to the budget over 4 years and we would like to save 12 million of student programs, the parcel tax needs to raise 24 million over this time. As someone else mentioned, it's probably best to see what happens with the other tax initiatives in Nov. I personally like Molly Munger's plan more than Jerry Brown's as it will provide more direct funding for the schools.