News


School board moves forward with bond measure consideration

Community survey to be done by polling firm as first step in process

As a first step toward putting forward a bond measure for school funding, Pleasanton's school board voted to do a survey to gauge community support.

Board members decided at their public meeting Tuesday night to send out a survey to get parent, teacher, student and community member input as to whether the district should pursue a bond measure.

School leaders have often stated at board meetings that the district doesn't have the funding it needs to upgrade school facilities, and a district report states that it needs $500 million for new buildings and renovations to its schools.

That funding would be for new classrooms, modernization of existing buildings, renovations to student drop-off areas, landscaping and technology upgrades, among other construction projects.

District staff will research estimates for polling firms, and the board will pick one to complete the community survey.

Board member Mark Miller said Pleasanton Unified doesn't have the funding it needs to upgrade its facilities because the district doesn't get as much funding from the state as it once did. He said a large chunk of the district's budget is spent on salaries, benefits and other inflexible costs.

"The amount of money we have to flex ... is a very small percent of the budget. It's not like we're off spending money on all kinds of weird things," he said.

The district will also create a community committee to provide input on the bond measure, which is to be made up of two board members, two parents, two community members and four administrators from various levels.

"For me, this is a no-brainer," board member Chris Grant said. "I think we've done a great job at being prudent, and the time to re-invest is now."

"We haven't invested in infrastructure," he said. "We've invested in people. We've invested in initiatives and curriculum" but infrastructure still needs attention.

Pleasanton Unified last passed a bond measure for school facilities construction in 1997, and efforts in 2009 and 2011 to pass a voter-approved parcel tax to fund city schools failed.

In other school news:

Pleasanton Unified is one step closer to revising its calendar, and two draft calendars will be available for public review at community meetings next week.

The district will hold two community meetings Feb. 3 and Feb. 4 to go over the results of a community survey regarding a potential calendar change. The Feb. 3 meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Amador Valley High in the school's library, and the Feb. 4 meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Foothill High at the school's multi-purpose room.

The two calendar options will next go before the board for consideration and approval of a final calendar for the upcoming school year.

The options come after a prolonged discussion about whether the district should change its instructional calendar for the 2016-17 year, including whether high school first semester exams should be moved before the winter holidays.

Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 27, 2016 at 7:21 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

I am not a parent of a student, I am not a teacher and I am not a student.
The PUDSD is not including me in this survey.

As A property tax paying citizen in this district for twenty years I have a an absolute right to be included in this survey.

Why is my opinion not allowed?


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 27, 2016 at 8:21 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Here is the report to the Board. It would appear the original intention was for a broader survey of the community. Unfortunately, the meeting video isn't available yet to hear the actual discussion. I would agree it seems an unnecessary expense (consultant) and use of people's time (committee) if the survey is limited to parents, students (only 18 year olds?), and staff.

"14.4. Report, Discussion and Possible Action to Approve Proceeding with Next Steps for a Survey on Bond Program Considerations (15 Minutes)
Rationale:
In 1997, the Pleasanton Unified School District (District) passed Measure B, which authorized the District to issue general obligation bonds (GOB) in the amount of $69,800,000.

Since 1997, no additional bond measures have been passed.

In January 2013, the District completed a Facility Master Plan (FMP) that identified several needs including the following:

Student safety, parking, and drop-off reconfigurations
Modernization of existing building systems
Program reconfigurations and renovations
New standard classrooms
Kindergarten improvements
Performing Arts/Theatre
Music/ Multipurpose Improvements
Libraries / Learning Centers
Outdoor learning / landscape and hardscape
Classroom flexibility / furnishings
Technology and data network capabilities
Others as noted in FMP
The January 2013 FMP identified over $500M of facility needs, using estimates from 2012.

Subsequent to January 2013, the following actions took place:

April 22, 2014, Keygent Advisors, the District’s Financial Advisors, presented Bond Program scenarios for a possible 2016 Bond Measure.
May 26, 2015, the Board discussed conducting a poll to determine the communities support for a 2016 GOB.
December 8, 2015, Keygent Advisors presented to the Board of Trustees updated information regarding the District’s Assessed Valuation (AV), bonding capacity, surrounding district tax rates in comparison to PUSD’s, other Bond Program Considerations, and a sample timeline for a November 8, 2016 Bond Election.

As part of next steps, the Administration recommends that the Board of Trustees provide direction to proceed with a bond survey, including establishing a bond survey review committee to work with the pollsters to provide guidance on the survey questions. In addition, as part of next steps, the Administration will begin working on updating the January 1, 2013 Facility Master Plan.

Requested Motion:
The Administration recommends that the Board of Trustees provide direction for the Administration to proceed with a bond survey, including establishing a committee to work with the pollsters to establish the survey questions.

Comments:
Prepared by: Micaela Ochoa, Deputy Superintendent, Business Services
Reviewed by: Jim Hansen, Interim Superintendent"


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 27, 2016 at 8:32 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Here is the presentation from the meeting on December 8 (about 3/4 down on the linked page): Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by Patrick, Pleasanton USD
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 27, 2016 at 9:25 am

Hi Michael,

Just wanted to clarify that this survey will absolutely be available for ALL community members. Thank you for pointing this out.

Take Care,

Patrick (Pleasanton USD Coordinator, Communications & Community Engagement)


6 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 27, 2016 at 10:33 am

We haven't even paid off the bonds we already have and they want another one? Absolutely not!!! Reduce expenses.


7 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 10:35 am

@Pete,

This is for facilities. They can't get this money by "reducing expenses".


10 people like this
Posted by Craig
a resident of Old Towne
on Jan 27, 2016 at 11:03 am

I would like to see senior citizens be exempt from this as we have paid our dues.


3 people like this
Posted by Voice from the wilderness
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 1:18 pm

I'm also "just a member of the community". It really bugs me when folks say "we can't pay for x so we need a bond." C'mon folks, how do you think the bond gets paid off? Of course we can afford x, we just want it now instead of saving for it and getting it later.

On the other hand, bonds make sense to me for capital purchases & infrastructure improvements. Just like you or I would take out a loan to buy a house or do a major upgrade to our house. So, the key questions are:
1) Do we really, really need x to make our community prosper? Don't tell me about wants... we all have 'em and we can't afford all of 'em. I can't even find a full list of the items to be funded.
2) How much money do we need? The number $500 million is tossed around along with the notion that "middle class jobs" are created (at about $76000 per job). But, along with the list of needs, we deserve some idea of how much each item or group costs.
3) Are bonds the best way to fund the acquisition of x? Without the list and associated cost, it's hard to agree or disagree.

Frankly, I want great schools. I also want programs to train our next generations to be useful, functional citizens. And I want individuals to take some responsibility for their own kids. Please make a good case & I will be happy to support it.


5 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 27, 2016 at 1:35 pm

I think it's going to be a hard row to hoe in this economic environment. Record lows in workforce participation, less than 2% economic growth and the fed today said the economy is slowing even more, stock market way down and 401k's being impacted, tech stocks earnings are way off which really hurts us here when the layoffs start,garbage rate up, water rates 31.5% increase, gas over a dollar higher than national average.

The above looks like a wish list rather than what we must have. This board shows zero in the way of fiscal responsibility. District office is overflowing with people.


9 people like this
Posted by Why?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Why should seniors be exempt if this is voted through? Younger people pay a disproportionate amount of property tax thanks to Prop 13, which was enacted before most of us were even born. We should ALL pay up.


8 people like this
Posted by Anony
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:05 pm

To add to the previous post, social security/medicare spending eclipses education spending by a large margin. Taxes on current workers help pay for this. Craig, you have paid into the system, but the average senior takes out more than they put in.

Local school improvements not only benefit the next generation of workers but also the community.


1 person likes this
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:15 pm

"Why is my opinion not allowed?"

It is, its called voting. Your voice will be able to be heard


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:17 pm

"We haven't even paid off the bonds we already have"

What bonds are you referring to?


3 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Me too

Take a look at your assessment detail and you will see deducts for two existing bonds


6 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Seniors not in the workforce or other individuals on fixed or lower income should exempt. Bond if passed should only apply to households with over $150,00 per year.


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:32 pm

also prop 13 has been around since 1977 and not many people lived in Pleasanton back then. Maybe 25,000.


5 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:58 pm

@Mary,

Yes, prop 13 started in 1977, but it still applied after that. All the people who moved to Pleasanton in the eighties and beyond (and are still in those houses) who are now senior citizens are benefiting greatly from prop 13.

Also, they are getting Social Security and Medicare, benefits, often 3 times the amount that they paid in!

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 27, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I believe the intention will be to educate the community about facility needs and how bonds work. I'm fairly certain the tax cannot be means tested (households with income over $150,000) although seniors can be exempted. It should be noted that current seniors probably had children who benefitted from taxes paid by those before them. All of our home values benefit from strong schools, usually a top five reason for families to choose a community.

$500,000,000 is a wish list. My personal focus would be on what facility(-ies) might be needed and what will drive that need: class size reduction in K-3? 24:1, 23, 20? Do we want to remove all portables?

To Voice: (1) yes (2) $500 million is an all in number and not likely to be attempted (3) Bonds are the only way to fund facility needs (okay, they could sell the Neal site and spend that or more to find another piece of land big enough for a school).

Here is some of the information from the slide presentation I noted above:

Estimated Current Bonding Capacity
2015-16 Total AV $ 20,022,167,278
Statutory Debt Limit Factor x 2.50%
Bonding Capacity $500,554,182
Outstanding General Obligation Bonds ($24,299,976)
Available Bonding Capacity $476,254,206
*Subject to confirmation by the Alameda County Auditor-Controller.

Projected Tax Rates
The District’s 2015-16 tax rate of $23.90 per $100,000 of AV is projected to decline until the District’s outstanding bonds mature in 2023
AV growth assumptions:
2016-17: 2.0%
2017-18: 3.0%
Thereafter: 4.0%

2015 $69.50
2016 $23.90
2017 $23.06
2018 $20.70
2019 $21.70
2020 $21.95
2021 $21.53
2022 $ 3.36
2023 $ 3.97

We can argue if the assessed valuation growth is realistic, but current bond tax payments should be dropping. The peak (at least since 2008 shown on the slide) was in 2013 at $96.30 per $100,000 in assessed value.

As I said before, the needs have to be prioritized and the reasoning made clear, and the community (everyone who votes) needs to understand the costs--both of passing a bond and of not passing the bond.


3 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 27, 2016 at 4:50 pm

BobB - I think you are only telling part of the story. Starting in 2010 new retirees can expect to recoup what they paid into the system. A decade from now new retirees can expect to go negative in benefits.

The only people who are benefiting greatly from proposition 13 are the people who owned houses when the proposition was passed. The rest of us still benefit somewhat, because the proposition limited the percentage of initial assessed value and the percentage that this value could be increased per year. This proposition was passed because, left to their own devices, politicians would have taxed seniors and low income people out of their homes. School districts were party to this tactic so whatever PUSD says, take with a grain of salt. They, like all taxpayer funded organizations, believe that money grows on trees.


11 people like this
Posted by social security
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Just a thought about seniors not having to pay -- why should I pay more than $10,000 per year into the social security system, with no end in sight, while you withdraw ten of thousands if not hundred of thousands of dollars more than you ever paid in? My father paid a total into the system of less than $35,000 over his entire career and he withdrew more than that in the first three years of retirement. That was 30 years ago and he is still getting more than $20,000 per year. That's about $600,000 more than he paid in already. So get off that bandwagon of seniors not having to pay. Those of us in the workforce already support you in so many ways, your property values going up due to better schools should not be our burden alone.


4 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 27, 2016 at 5:23 pm

Seniors deserve every penny they get from social security was supposed to be a retirement subsidy and the lobs just continued the myth and them Added the other entitlements. People are forced to pay into social security and it's not an elective and is a bad investment. Young people make more money and that is why they pay more. The devaluation of our currency is the issue and the money is all relative. No bond.


3 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 27, 2016 at 5:38 pm

For starters the US is 18 trillion dollars in debt. This is 18X more than when Reagan was in office, about the time your dad retired. Inflation since then has gone up 2.2X.
When your dad started working, old age insurance was 2-4% for a good portion of his work years. You are paying 15.3%
The maximum earnings ceiling for social security taxes has gone up 1.5X more than the inflation rate since your dad retired. Meaning you pay a lot more for the same thing.
Short answer, when your dad retired, the US was a wealthy nation. Now the US is a debtor nation and you are paying the consequence.


12 people like this
Posted by DJohns
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 27, 2016 at 5:45 pm

DJohns is a registered user.

Pleasanton taxpayers have approved over 155 million dollars in PUSD bonds. That money is spent but bond debt remains.
Look at your current tax bill, most Pleasanton homeowners are probably paying more than $800 already.
How was past bond money spent? How has the debt been managed? Were past bond promises kept?
Can Pleasanton taxpayers trust PUSD integrity with future bond debt, when they took advantage of taxpayers with illegal shananigans in the past? Web Link

Much of the facilities problem is due to students from new growth. Taxpayers should not be paying for unmitigated growth of new development? How have developer fees been used, what has been the the mitigation plan?

The City is preparing to run a bond and so is Las Positas College. PUSD wants to get to the front of the line.


10 people like this
Posted by The Observer
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 27, 2016 at 7:43 pm

Mark Miller said,
"The amount of money we have to flex ... is a very small percent of the budget. It's not like we're off spending money on all kinds of weird things,"

Paying elementary school PE teachers $130,000 per year is weird in my book


4 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 27, 2016 at 8:25 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Craig,
What's the age limit or dollar amount where "paying your dues" is achieved? I didn't realize there was a "I'm not engaged in my community" mark in life.

BobB,
Last time I checked,lowering expenses increases available money to put towards investments. Next time I want to buy something for my house I'll remember I don't need to reduce spending and save for it, I can just get more money.


8 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 27, 2016 at 8:27 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Anyone easy no vote for me without seeing a yr over yr commitment to ongoing cost reduction without service disruptions


20 people like this
Posted by Victor
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 27, 2016 at 8:29 pm

You continue to ask for more money when the other bonds are not paid off yet, you are behaving in a non-fiscally responsible manner. Get your act together and stop squandering our tax dollars.


8 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 27, 2016 at 8:37 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Especially when infastructure investments only see 3/4 year utilization. Poor use of resources.

Seems like an opportunity to perhaps generase revenue to pay for the investment without going to tax payers.


13 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 27, 2016 at 8:44 pm

The only reason they want to do it this way is because a parcel tax requires 2/3's because it's a tax and this only requires plurality because it uses the verbiage of bond rather than tax. More slight of hand by our elected officials. Pay off the existing bonds and then make a good business case and if valid should be no problem.


9 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:11 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pete, you are correct that the parcel tax is a separate type of vote from a bond. There is no slight of hand, however. Parcel taxes generally are used for what I'll call "in classroom" needs/wants. Bonds are to build/improve the classrooms/structures/property.


15 people like this
Posted by Susie
a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:41 am

It would be difficult for me to support a bond after reading about the shenanigans that have gone on within the school district the last 1-2 years. Money foolishly spent on lawyers, settlements to disgruntled employees, and bloated district staff. The constant shuffle of principles indicates the school district needs some major changes. Until the school board and administration improves the operations of PUSD, a request for additional funds will be a hard sell.


4 people like this
Posted by Investor
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:48 am

I am all for a bond measure. I have paid taxes in several different counties and cities for services for the greater good. I paid on school bonds before I had children, while I had children, and am prepared to pay as my children have children. It is what I feel we need to do as a society. I want to see the schools thrive here. We moved here for the schools and people continue to move here for the schools. Just like maintenance on our homes, schools need to be maintained and updated, upgraded. I am appalled at the state of some our schools in our state. I have traveled out of state and see beautiful, well maintained schools in other states. We need to value what goes into education more...our children spent a lot of hours in a school. They should be kept up and maintained.


7 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:53 am

Maybe so but one requires 50% and the other 67% and all the educators ever talk about is more money. Teachers, administrators, PUSD. Not once have I ever heard about cost reduction programs or better capital utilization programs only more money for this or more money for that. They seem to forget that everyone has their hand out for more money. Like I said before, if they show significant fiscal responsibility, stop all these legal fees and law suits, reduce the size of district staff and if they do all that and then come forward with a good business case for what they truly must have they should not have a problem.

It's not only the school district which is bloated but rather all of our city services. Maybe a case of affuanza


8 people like this
Posted by Laurie
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:55 am

I was part of the committee that reviewed the infrastructure needs a few years ago. At the time, we were asked to generate a wish list with no restrictions and that is where the $500M is probably coming from. Granted, no one expects that to be the final request, and it is likely that a priority list will be developed with specific requirements and associated costs. At some point there will be a delineation between what is absolutely needed and what would be nice to have.

We all have to realize that infrastructure has a shelf life and requires replacement at some point. They age regardless of who is running the school district.

At this point, we should ensure that the needs are clear, concise and reasonable.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:18 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pete, there are a few people who spent quite a bit of time on past bonds. There are people still working on it. There are district people, new to their positions, trying to understand the concerns. I think there will be a commitment to fully educating the community about needs and getting input on priorities. The last two superintendents (one who built a fiefdom to retirement and the other who, at best, was inexperienced) caused a lot of damage.

We have to let the new people grab hold of the reins. I personally think the current outside law firms need to be replaced. That would be a big step in the right direction.

In the meantime, just what do you think can be cut, at the DO or anywhere else? What are your suggestions for cost reduction or better capital utilization programs?


12 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:48 am

As a parent of two middle schoolers, I will not vote for a bond measure right now. When the Barton reading program was cancelled, I lost what little faith I had. Barton was replaced with Reading Specialists who did nothing more than expect kids to lean reading by rote. PUSD, deal with what you have, that's how the rest of us live.


4 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 28, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Kathleen,
Suggestions - look at all the after school tutoring programs that have to rent space and have students / clients driven to them. Why not rent space to them. Students are already there on campus.

Why not offer back school days in return, extending the school yr. Effectively a pay cut, but no loss of income really.

Why not offer after school programs at privitized costs to generate revenue?

My guess why not? There's a common entity involved in each of these considerations preventing all of these from being "realistic" solutions


7 people like this
Posted by woggut
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 28, 2016 at 5:19 pm

>> We all have to realize that infrastructure has a shelf life and requires replacement at some point. They age regardless of who is running the school district. <<

This is why businesses depreciate assets, which shows up on the income statement as an expense. The depreciation is not a surprise, and if our school district hasn't been planning for existing facility upkeep then it's bad financial planning.

With all the new apartments going up in Hacienda and elsewhere we probably need new facilities, but that's what developer impact fees are for. Looking at the current PUSD developer fees document the money was spent on generic upkeep and technology that should be covered by ongoing planned expenses. So net effect is developer fees sidetracked to ongoing maintenance, and the money that should have been budgeted for ongoing maintenance is diverted to salaries. Now we need a bond?


22 people like this
Posted by Stan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 7:15 pm

I will definitely vote for a bond First, since I own a home in Pleasanton, I selfishly recognize that the reason 90 percent of families are moving here is because of the reputation of good schools. Already though, we are losing many families to San Ramon (last parcel tax renewal passed May 2015), Dublin (last parcel tax passed May 2014), and Danville (passed May 2015 as part of San Ramon.) Yes, we are the only similar district around that has not passed a parcel tax and yes, it is absolutely affecting our home prices. I'm sure that some will say the home prices are going up, but you are ignorant if you don't understand how important it is to stay ahead of keeping up "good" schools. $142 a year is nothing compared to the extra $20,000 your home will be worth...or not.
Next, I support our schools. I was lucky enough to go to nice schools and these children deserve it too. They deserve updated facilities. They don't deserve to hear adults around them trash-talking the school district and teachers, and how it's a waste of money. School is where they go and do their best work everyday. No, the district is not perfect and they have made mistakes, just like every other organization out there. But really people, the grudges that some people choose to hang onto is just ridiculous. I support a bond or tax and I predict that most of Pleasanton will, even if they are not the ones that spend so much time complaining on the Pleasanton Weekly.


8 people like this
Posted by Kate
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 28, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Our schools are very impacted. I would like to see the developers of ALL these new housing units in the Stoneridge area foot the bill for a new elementary school between Fairlands and Donlon. The developers come In, make money and leave us with impacted schools and a school board saying we need a new Bond to pay for things. Genius.


2 people like this
Posted by justwondering
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 29, 2016 at 7:29 am

it would be helpful if the district could highlight examples of the top issues with the facilities. Frankly, some of the things listed on the 500 million wish list seem like nice to have but not essential to the quality of education.


11 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2016 at 8:04 am

I will not vote for one cent of additional money for the schools until they become fiscally responsible. That means no more frivolous lawsuits, no musical chairs with management positions, no over bloated salaries and cut the excess work force in the offices.

I don't care that a bond is for infrastructure not salaries and pensions. I want to see fiscal responsibility in EVERY area before I vote to allocate one single penny to the school district just to watch them waste it.


31 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2016 at 11:13 am

Some people say PUSD is a reasonably fiscally responsible organization, as local school districts go. Seems to me that bond money for facilities is needed, and would be put to good use.


6 people like this
Posted by working parent
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jan 29, 2016 at 11:16 am

I enjoy reading the honest feedback of PW posters. I really hope the School Board reads these as it provides great insight into the hurdles they will be up against with a proposed bond.
There is always a general distrust of sending a large amount of taxpayer money to an organization with potential or perceived loopholes that the taxpayer's money will get diverted to other spending at a later date. Too many agencies have played that trick in the past.
I think PUSD will get a lot more support to the bond if:
1) PUSD provides very specific items the bond will cover and that the bond language ensures PUSD is unable to divert or loan out the money in any way to anything else without another vote by the public.
2) I would strongly suggest adding language that none of the bond money will support salaries or wages. There is too much public animosity on this issue on teacher or administration pay and benefits. If you try and add it in, you will lose a lot of support. If you want to add it in, you will need to add very specific language around to whom, how much and future inflation & benefit limits.
3) The wish list is too long. Pick the top items identified from the survey. The more items you add, there will be more people who don't want to pay for them. Ask in the survey what are their $ limits. Or maybe give options and see which ones they would support. For example, Bond 1($X): covers just modernization of existing buildings: Bond Option 2 ($X+) covers modernization and new classrooms and/or new school. Bond option 3 ($X++): covers modernization, new classrooms, & technology etc, etc. Then pick the most popular one that you believe there is enough support for on the bond measure. Better to get something than nothing at all by asking for too much.


7 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 29, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Kathleen,

Sorry to get back so late but was on a trip. Bonds and parcel taxes are just evidence that we cannot or do not want to live within our means and to have 2 bonds on the books and going for a 3rd one is just absurd. Its obvious that we are not doing a good job at all of framing what our actual must have needs are. The seriousness of this school board and the people who support it are in question. Let's just throw out $500,000,000 and figure out how we will spend that much is just honestly insulting to the citizens of this city. What are the specific needs that must be addressed, when, how much, who engineers, etc needs to be done first and even before that should happen both of the previous bonds need to be closed. Someone wrote on here that people are moving out of here to San Ramon for the schools, well anyone that stupid should move out. Let's be honest no one is moving to Pleasanton because of the schools as a sole component in the decision and if they do their judgement should be questioned.

Regarding cost reduction. I would immediately institute ISF (integrated single function) and shared services as a east to reduce cost. We would go to zero based budgeting. I would cap the district office population at a percent of school personnel and also reward administrators for being in the schools and teachers for teaching. Remove the monetary and benefits incentives for trying to get transferred to the district offices. Our customers are the students!

We should be looking for opportunities to share resources with the other districts around here like mobile vehicles, construction costs, maintenance, landscaping etc. We are not out in the boonies by ourselves and are part of a much larger society.

Lastly, I would not be afraid of negotiating hard with the teachers union and if they prove unreasonable I would be willing to take a strike. Can you imagine our teachers going out on strike and the talking points they would try to use about being underpaid? No the other teachers around here know Pleasanton teachers are very highly compensated and higher than others in the area.

There are many more things we can do but first we must prioritize and address.


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Posted by rrt
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 29, 2016 at 3:42 pm

Besides the bonds we are paying for now on our property tax, bonds we voted to tax ourselves on, the district essentially did another bond without consulting the residents. The attorney general has stated that was illegal. The district did a cash-out when refinancing. They increased our debt (like adding another bond). If you have a home and when interest rates go down you refinance but instead of just refinancing the existing loan you do that plus take a bunch of cash out thus increasing the mortgage amount, you are increasing your debt. This is exactly what the district did. To this day, even though they have been told this was illegal and they received bad legal advise (from a known legal firm that does this type of trick), they have never apologized to the community. Certainly not the elements of a community of character and not a good way to build trust. While doing this illegal operation, they did not even reconvene the bond oversite committee. They knew that committee would have exposed them. So not only did they do this illegal transaction, they did not fulfill the promises of the previous bonds of having an oversite committee meet on a regular basis.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 29, 2016 at 4:45 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sorry Pete and Pleasanton Parent, I'm out today but will respond later.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 30, 2016 at 9:54 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pleasanton Parent: I’m not sure what the tutoring businesses need in terms of space during the school day, if any. The only other issue is understanding the district would not be endorsing these businesses, their practices, or success rates. As long as parents understand that, it isn’t necessarily a problem. However, I also would wonder if the business would want to be at all schools. Right now, any student can come to the tutor rather than the business providing tutors at all locations. You’d have to have enough students at every school to justify the rental and personnel costs.

I’m confused by “offer back school days” so I’ll focus on extending the school year. If you want more than 180 seat days for students (current law), you are going to have to pay for them. Education isn’t a charity. I’d also like to know what your educational goal is. What do you see in place on those extra days that will increase your child’s knowledge? Perhaps a better question is what we do with state testing schedules that, seemingly, waste the final few weeks of school.

As far as providing after school enrichment, you’d have the same issues as providing tutoring. You’d have to find people willing to teach and pay rent (the only way there is revenue to the district). And realize the district is not going to endorse the programs. There is also a concern about current student workloads. I don’t know if you can generate enough interest for after school work or fun.

If you are suggesting teachers are the common entity, I would wholeheartedly disagree.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 30, 2016 at 10:53 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pete, I’m sure you realize the formulas for how we get our funding are complicated (and it is being suggested it’s time to change how schools are funded). You pay your state taxes and they divvy it up among about 900 districts*. Any given community most likely is not getting back what they paid; some districts get more than they paid. (*About 100 districts are community funded districts, they essentially keep their tax money.) The state also requires us to build and maintain our own facilities. If we pass state bonds, then the state will allow matching funds for projects they deem worthy until the state bond runs out. They also used to provide some funding for deferred maintenance, then they took that away. I’m not certain they are helping support it again.

So I think bonds and parcel taxes, done properly, is this community’s commitment to its children (the customers as you pointed out). We can have status quo, or we can give them the best we are able. $500 million is a dream list. I wouldn’t make landscaping or changing ingress/egress a priority. I want to hear the things needed for a premier learning environment, like enough classrooms. As I said, schools are usually within the top five reasons for moving to a particular town, and good schools do impact the value of your home.

Zero based budgeting: each school has X students, needs Y teachers, and some level of administrative and other services (counselors, principals, secretaries). I believe districts look at each school every year so they understand where the students are and what they need to support them. I’m not up on ISF, but sharing services works to an extent (one vice principal at two schools, one part-time teacher/part time vice principal). About 85% of the budget is personnel and the majority of them belong to one of two unions, so while not impossible, there are other rules in play. Capping the district office seems like a reasonable idea, but there are reasons that doesn’t necessarily work, the first being demands by the state to institute new programs—common core. Maybe a good place to start is to get an org chart to see if there is anything we can do without. I don’t know what business is going to remove incentives to promotion. People aren’t born CEOs, and I don’t know anyone who wants more responsibilities for less or the same money.

I can agree sharing peripheral costs is beneficial. PUSD used to do the payrolls for a few other districts, which in turn covered the cost for the staff to do it. It could still be the case. We’ve shared the cost of the gymnasiums at at least two schools if I recall correctly, and probably some of the fields at our schools as well. The Amador Theater belongs to the city now, doesn’t it?

You weren’t around for the last strike, I’m guessing. The things I would like to negotiate for may not be what you would negotiate for. Remember, you are not just negotiating with our union, you negotiate with CTA. Every district’s teachers will support another’s attempt for a raise because they can use it in their negotiations.

So, like any business, education is multi-faceted. Understanding what governs them is necessary to knowing what can change. And maybe the system needs to be dumped on its ear, but that wouldn't happen overnight.


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Posted by justwondering
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 30, 2016 at 3:32 pm

I'd like to see a list of items that are critical to modernization of the schools. For me, drop--off and pick-up area improvements is nice but not essential. What are the items to continue to be a top notch district? Educate the voters, please.


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Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2016 at 3:55 pm

@Pleasanton Parent,

You said "Last time I checked,lowering expenses increases available money to put towards investments. "

My understanding is that money saved in other areas (such as pay cuts for teachers for instance) can't be used to pay for facilities. They are budgeted separately.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 30, 2016 at 10:34 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Kathleen,
The fact schools aren't even exploring these options is my point (too easily dismissed), it's always a tax or bond, never an internal solution. It's easier to hold our children's education hostage than it is to come up with revenue generating solutions.
On the added days, I'd be willing to support a bond if the number of educational days was extended at no additional cost. What I want them used for? Education, math, writing, reading, pe, etc
The common barrier isnto the teachers, it's the union. And I do see these as separate entities because teachers actually care about the population they serve where as the union exists for itself.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 31, 2016 at 2:27 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

A bond is for facilities, so asking teachers to pay with free days to have a classroom to teach in is ludicrous. Anyone ever ask you to pay for an office or a desk or your supplies (which teachers do all the time)?

Are you aware of any businesses or tutors asking to rent space after school and being turned away? Without their interest, it's a moot point. And I would think the district is gunshy after the "college" rented space. If you want a business idea to pursue renting a school, build a creditable summer school program for enrichment and/or advanced learning opportunities. All the state now allows is remedial work, and at the district's expense.

Are you actually adding curriculum or stretching it out for some number of days? That would take me back to the testing dates question.

I am well documented on not being a fan of unions, but until and if teachers ever feel safe, unions will stay. And saying teachers should give you free days won't build that kind of trust.


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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2016 at 7:20 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Kathleen, if I remember correctly, you have stated that you have worked for both Pleasanton and Palo Alto as an administrative assistant of some sort. My apologies if I am incorrect. My question is, were you a part of the classified union in either location?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 31, 2016 at 8:04 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Yes, I worked at both districts. I was part of the few confidential/supervisory group and not in any Union. I was the assistant to the Superintendent. Never have been in a union; though I was raised in a union family.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 31, 2016 at 8:35 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Kathleen,
I have been asked and have taken pay cut while being asked to do additional work. My company business has gone through growth and contraction periods, I have been fortunate to have made it through these cycles. The work that has had to get done has never changed, but the disbursement of it during these contraction periods has added work to my plate while also asking for reduction in pay at the same time. So to your question, would i? Yes I would, and I have.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 31, 2016 at 8:37 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

And to your second point - believe it or not, but the school district may have to actually go out and propose facility use as an option - you can't armchair quarterback revenue generation, you may have to do some marketing to gain interest and demand.
Don't like my suggestions, fine, what are yours that don't require additional taxpayer funding?


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 31, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Teachers giving me "free" days? Thought this discussion was around a bond measure? I suppose the district thinks this bond money is free?
How about viewing it as a trade for investment - time, in the form of additional educational days (which is plentiful here, for my money). Regarding curriculum and testing, I can't imagine this is difficult to figure out.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 31, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sorry you've gone through those ups and downs. Educating children should be on a roller coaster, and frankly, already is.

They could advertise, certainly. And I made a suggestion to cover a need over the summer.

A bond is for facilities. How do you tie that to more work days at no cost? The funds are separate. It appears you are saying I'll give you more classrooms in exchange for more than 180 days of learning. If you want a trade of some kind, you'll have to be more realistic. The best teachers, in particular, really are not paid enough for what we expect them to accomplish. If you have a case for more seat learning, it should go with commensurate pay.

You'd have to convince the state about testing.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 31, 2016 at 9:51 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Should not be on a roller coaster. Sorry.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 1, 2016 at 9:38 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Kathleen,
We will have to disagree. You've offered no suggestions to solve the problem and have only pointed out barriers that could be overcome. You want my vote - pony up something in return. You want to generate revenue to pay for infastructure, I suggest looking for opportunities. You're not getting my tax dollars for free. If Pleasanton education suffers as a result I'll move or pay for private school.
I agree quality education isn't free, but it's also financially responsible.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 1, 2016 at 11:12 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pleasanton Parent, I offered a revenue generating idea for enrichment summer school (could also be an after school program); how is that not a suggestion? Barriers are either permanent by law or just something to overcome.

It isn't tax dollars for free; its buying the community's children a, hopefully, premier learning environment. It makes us a sought after community and will increase the value of your home, whether you stay or move. Will you stay and switch to private schools should a bond pass?

I do agree there needs to be transparency, accountability, and a precise list of projects before I'd even vote for a bond. Let's see how the district handles this desire with the community. As someone already mentioned, this isn't the only bond/tax being planned.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 1, 2016 at 11:26 pm

Kathleen,
My apologies if that was a suggestion you are actively pursuing, as written / read, I took it as you were suggesting I create the business case for the summer school program - to which my response is, I'm too busy working 60hrs/wk (20 hrs of which already go to paying taxes which are meant to pay for these things already). Then again, I guess my time is "free" to work more to pay for more.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 2, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pleasanton Parent, I don't think your time/effort/money is of any less value than anyone else's. As a community, we choose what is important enough to merit our support. Maybe the district will make a good case for a bond; maybe they won't. if it hits s ballot, you and I will each vote accordingly.


2 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 2, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Unless cost reductions are out in place and taken seriously for a period of time and unless I know exactly what we have to have and how much it costs I will vote no as will most of my neighbors.

In addition, whomever is thinking of doing this had better start taking a look at the economy before going forward. Record lows in workforce participation rate, record debt, 1% economic growth and a stock market which has lost 18% of its value in the last 5 months might not be a good time for trying have us vote another tax on ourselves.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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