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School board to hear results of public poll on districtwide bond measure tonight

Enrollment projections, rehiring of 12 instructional coaches also on agenda

With the hope the community will be behind a schools facility bond measure, Pleasanton's school board will hear the results of a survey tonight that was taken to evaluate public opinion about a district-wide bond measure.

The Pleasanton Unified School District board hired a firm to do a poll to see whether Pleasanton would support a bond measure and under what circumstances.

The phone-based poll will be integral in deciding when to put the bond measure on a district-wide ballot and what tax rate to pursue, district officials had noted at prior meetings.

The district is pursuing a bond measure, which could be presented as early as the Nov. 8 election, to fund renovations and technology upgrades at various schools, among other projects. The specific project list hasn't been established by the district.

The board will also hear a report on a recent district-wide demographics report, which noted the district will not need a new school in the next 10 years. Enrollment is expected to increase until 2018 and then start to decline through 2025 until it is lower than the current enrollment levels, according to the report that will be presented Tuesday.

The expected decrease is largely due to declining birth rates and a "saturated" housing market, the report noted.

The board is also expected to rehire 12 instructional coaches who were expected to be laid off because of a lack of funding for those positions. Four of the positions will be funded by donations from the Pleasanton Partners in Education (PPIE) Foundation. All of the positions will be funded with one-time dollars.

In other school news:

-Retiring Amador Valley coach Rick Sira will be honored by the board for his contribution to the school's football program over the past 30 years.

-The board will also honor school employees who recently earned their U.S. citizenship

-The board will vote whether to give temporary, non-regular and substitute employees paid sick leave. The vote will be the second reading of the resolution, and the board previously gave its support for the measure.

-The board will discuss how it could set up regular community meetings for the public to talk one-on-one with board members.

Comments

14 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 18, 2016 at 2:18 pm

The new public communications director hired by the PUSD promised that I would be included in this public poll. I was not. I have asked the PUSD to include me in previous polls, and they did not.

How can this be described as a public poll?
Are the public that is polled preselected to take part?
How am I ignored? After receiving a promise that I would be included?


13 people like this
Posted by yup!
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Mar 18, 2016 at 5:55 pm

I just hope that if they decide to pursue a bond a specific list is provided of the proceeds will be used for to improve/maintain school facilities. For example, how about getting rid of portables which the district pays rent for thereby saving money from the general fund.


5 people like this
Posted by AlamedaCountyNative
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Mar 21, 2016 at 10:19 am

Just wondering how much money PUSD would have if they weren't always being sued by ex employees?


2 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 21, 2016 at 1:24 pm

A study ? Reports we won't need a new school for 10 years ? Who paid for that study? Due to a " saturated " housing in Pton. Guess I won't receive a survey as well.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 21, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

The bond survey was via phone. I have been told the results will be posted by 5:00 p.m. today on the district web site (withe the board packet, I assume).


3 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 21, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

I have a concern that this poll was selective, narrowed to a specific selection in our community rendering the results to be favorable for what the PUSD wanted to receive in order to go ahead with placing this bond question on the ballot.

The method for conducting this poll is biased in a direction that is not representative of this community. It did not represent all members of this community. PUSD is poised to place this issue on the ballot based on the results of their poll.

By not including all members in this community is refusing to consider possible merits of alternate points of view.


3 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 21, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Patriot,

It really does make sense we won't need another school and after 2925 we will probably start to reduce schools and consolidate assets. We are maturing as a city and not a lot of young people buy $1,000,000 starter houses.

Michael I do not know how you come to your conclusion. I was surveyed and am older with no children. It seemed to be very random.


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Posted by Susan
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 21, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Kathleen,

Can you are the weekly post the results here please?


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Posted by yup!
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Mar 21, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Web Link

Scroll down to item 14.3 and click on the link to bond survey results. A quick glance would suggest the board will likely want to push forward.


3 people like this
Posted by SHale
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 21, 2016 at 6:14 pm

SHale is a registered user.

"We are maturing as a city and not a lot of young people buy $1,000,000 starter houses."

Ah, er, um. You sure? I have a few thousand sold and few thousand BEING sold homes all near or over $1m in San Ramon. Nearly all have kids. You get high rated schools and available land.....developer to build....they will come; even at $1m.


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Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 21, 2016 at 6:36 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

A factual survey process take four to six months from the first step to completing a report of the results. That is not the case with this survey, that took less than six weeks.

For this survey, whom determined the questions for the data desired?
For this survey, whom determined the data needed to answer the questions?

Whom identified the people the data will be collected from?
Whom determined the methodology for conducting this survey?

A. Procedure for conducting this survey.
B. The number of people that will be surveyed.
C. How they will be surveyed?
D. How is the information prepared for data analysis?
E. Are the questions specific or are the questions vague?



1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 21, 2016 at 7:08 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Thanks Yup!

Michael, there was a committee. I was one of the participants. The questions were presented by the consultant. Some were edited by the committee. There was some flexibility based on responses. The people called (400 willing to participate, which takes far more than 400 calls) were representative of the community and were known voters. I do not know who those people were; that was handled by the consultant. The consultant has done many of these surveys, so it was based on their experience and proven approaches.


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Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 21, 2016 at 7:16 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Kathleen,

An important data point would be the number of hang ups by potential data providers. Also, 400 willing participants is Approximately 10% of the registered voters in Pleasanton.

Another important data point would be, how many of the willing participants pay property taxes.

How did PUSD arrive to fine 400 willing participants, and who are they, how were they selected?


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Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 21, 2016 at 7:22 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Should have typed 00.01% Of registered voters.


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 21, 2016 at 7:43 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

If I understood correctly, the district did not have access to or input into who was called. I cannot explain how 400 calls was statistically significant, but I've seen similar usage here and across the Bay.


1 person likes this
Posted by Yup!
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Mar 21, 2016 at 8:27 pm

I believe they start with voter registration and screen for those that are likely to vote based on past record of voting. Then they screen by male female and age so that they have a representative cross section of people likely to vote. It is done in a way to be a good predictor of the outcome. You can also see they tested different messages to see how people reacted both positive and negative. The company should give a good explanation of the methodology as part of their presentation tomorrow evening


3 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 22, 2016 at 2:30 am

Shale

The data indicates a significant drop off in enrollment and has already started with significantly lower birth rates. Pleasanton will be built out by 2018 or mature as they say. San Ramon on the other hand is building all over the hills.

Regardless of the survey we need to also look at smart investments because in the future we will be reducing the need for resources. Keep in mind that we have other money needs I. This town such as the $158,000,000 in unfounded pension liabilities for city staff. I am not sure but believe next year a full 25% of the cities budget will go to pension liabilities and it's expected to increase more.


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Posted by Me
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2016 at 11:41 am

Susan - do you even know what an unfunded pension liability is? I think you think you know, but I seriously doubt you do know. Every corporation that has a defined benefit plan has a unfunded pension liability many times the assets of the corporation. Enough with the Kieso and Wygant .... suffice it to say the number itself is mostly meaningles


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 22, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

There are a few things impacting district (and city) budgets. For any California district, there are STRS and PERS (state pension funds) contributions (some also have SEIU). Each of the responsible organizations, PERS and STRS (which requires state approval), are increasing the employer side contributions dramatically to 19% over the next few years. It means general fund budgets are totally eroding to cover the cost.

Then you have lifetime benefits which are the responsibility of the granting agency and are largely unfunded. Districts are dipping into the general fund each year to cover the costs. And that means it is not going to students or anywhere else we expect general fund dollars to be used.


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Posted by You
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 22, 2016 at 1:52 pm

First of all, that unfunded liability mentioned is probably for the city, and not the school district. However, the number is meaningful.

The school district has some employees in CalPERS (non-teachers), and some in in CalSTRS (teachers). For CalPERS, that is underfunded due to unrealistic target returns in CalPERS, not funding appropriately, hit on the economy. At least school employees did not receive the increase in retirement benefits that cities, counties, and state gave out and did not fund. For CalSTRS, the problem is the contribution rate is set by our elected officials and not by the CalSTRS board using an actuarial study. Since elected officials have been afraid of charging the state, district, and employees more, the real cost of the retirement plan, the contribution rate has been inadequate, essentially digging our underfunded liabilities even further. Rates are going up soon and going up significantly, for the state, district, and employees.

There are also the completely unfunded post-retirement benefits of our district. Our district gives out free health insurance to retirees. Instead of paying for the benefit as it is 'earned', they pay-as-you-go. Leaving this benefit essentially unfunded.

To Me, it would be illegal for any private sector company to have the low funding amounts for retirement benefits as our state/city/district has. The difference with public sector retirement plans is the taxpayer, who did not negotiate the benefits and is probably on social security, is left guaranteeing the shortfall. That means less money for projects and services. If the taxpayers did not have to pay these high amounts for these benefits, there would be money available to run the schools better and pay for capital expenses. Instead, they are asking the taxpayer to pay more for a bond like this since the tax money we are giving already is being hijacked to payer for public employee retirement benefits.

Even the citty, in their meetings on the pension issues, acknowledges the underfunded amounts are a serious problem and the number is quite meaningful. The only ones who do not feel the number is meaningful are those public employee employees who have a benefit guaranteed by the taxpayer.


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Posted by AnonName88
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2016 at 3:00 pm

AnonName88 is a registered user.

Kathleen, I have a question for you as you seem to be very knowledgeable about the district. I have noticed looking at the last couple of agendas that there seems to be a lot of litigation in our district which costs mega bucks. Is this normal? Do you have any idea how it compares to similar districts?


2 people like this
Posted by Julie Testa
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 22, 2016 at 3:25 pm

PUSD demographer report says no schools are needed “IF” very overcrowded schools are “acceptable”.

The very conservative demographer projections say that without, at least, two new elementary schools all K-5 will be around 900 students, middle schools will average 1,300 and high schools will average 2,700 each.

The Pleasanton General Plan guidelines say elementary schools should not exceed 600 students, Middle School 1000 students, High School 2000 students. There is NO plan to accommodate the ongoing overcrowding from new growth.

Declining birthrates are always projected but have NEVER come true in Pleasanton. Student yields are historically uniquely higher in Pleasanton but are never factored into projections. Having followed PUSD growth projections for 30 years I believe the 2015/2016 report is conservatively low... and yet...still frightening.

There is no problem IF we just keep our head in the sand.


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Posted by Susan
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 22, 2016 at 4:25 pm

So my only point is this. We have unfounded city workers pensions and healthcare, we have unfounded teachers pensions and lucrative medical benefits for retirees, we are/will be taking away from the schools to pay these liabilities, we have a potential school bond, and Jukie wants new schools. Shouldn't we have someone to take a financial look at all of these various issues as one item to see what we can afford and what we have to renegotiate or decline?


Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 22, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Unfunded


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Posted by Litigation
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2016 at 4:47 pm

In response to AnonName88, the District hires attorneys that charge outrageous fees where there primary activity is to bill the District for litigation in situations where PUSD files lawsuits against children with special needs / disabilities.

The District does not want to provide services to special needs children or implement accommodations in IEP documents. Instead the District has a campaign of harassment and intimidation where when they fail to provide services to special needs children, they then file lawsuits against the children. The Pleasanton Unified staff will never admit they fail to provide needed services to special needs children. Instead, they file lawsuits against children.

Many of those listed on the agenda are falsely listed. It is not Student v. Pleasanton Unified. In fact it is Pleasanton Unified v. Student. Pleasanton Unified has filed lawsuits against children as young as 3 years old.


4 people like this
Posted by Julie Testa
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 22, 2016 at 5:47 pm

The unfunded liability issue is a true crisis in all municipalities. I shared my concern at last weeks joint School Board, City council meeting, when it was reported that PERS/STERS will increase 154% taking from PUSD general fund. This growing debt drives many decisions that impact our communities every day. The unfunded liabilities have become big black holes. I believe it is one of the motivating factors to overcrowd schools. Our kid's ADA dollars that once operated schools is desired elsewhere. There should be concern.

These articles are informative.
Web Link
Web Link

I also think City Council should be held accountable for rezoning and approving housing when they know the schools are impacted. They should be working with PUSD to come up with solutions.


2 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 22, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Julie,

So when you spoke with them did they say anything or acknowledge they had a plan to deal with it. I don't think they have a clue what to do but maybe I am wrong.


3 people like this
Posted by You
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 22, 2016 at 7:07 pm

Susan, you are right. We should be looking at all these items together to figure out the best plan.

For one, we should get rid of the retiree medical benefit that was started about a decade ago by Casey. The board should be prohibited in continuing a benefit to the employees that are not fully funded when the benefit is earned. If the unions will not agree to this benefit going away, or the teachers paying for this benefit, the benefit should be fully funded and the total amount to fund this should come out of the employee benefit/salary pool; resulting in no or very low raises in the next negotiation.See if the teachers would rather have a higher salary or retirement medical (which is technically covered by Obamacare now).

Spending $300 million on facilities, plus the interest (probably at least $400M -$500M additional), when we do not have enough money to fund the programs does not make sense. A mix of bond and parcel tax will be a much better investment in our tax dollars. For example, I would rather pay for a technology or science program than spend that money on enhancing our drop-off and pick-up spots. We need a well balanced financial solution. Not get as much money for a bond, and then give the district the authority on how to spend it on capital projects. The item before the district on the bond does not even talk about how the bond money could be spent. It is all about extracting as much money as possible, and then later figuring out how to apply it.


3 people like this
Posted by Julie Testa
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 22, 2016 at 7:11 pm

They pointed out the difference between City unfunded liability verses STERS/PERS. The City is a local control issue, STERS/PERS is State controlled. Read the links provided. You are right it is catastrophic!! No solution in sight! Districts are worried, kids lose, taxpayer gets screwed!

Related to building schools, I have a problem with a discussion of hundreds of millions in capital bonds and it does nothing to address a serious overcrowding issue. New growth should pay for itself, but if we are going to pay hundreds of millions of a bond I want something to show for it. A bond should be true capital projects, brick and mortar. Parents should be asking where their kids ADA dollars are going that PUSD can not operate reasonable size schools.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 23, 2016 at 11:56 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

AnonName88, Sorry I am just getting to your question. I have experience it two districts; not much compared to the 1,000 in the state. Pleasanton seems to have many suits related to personnel. Handled properly, I don't think that should ever be the case.

Palo Alto paid quite a bit for attorneys, and approved but have not yet hired (at least the last time I looked) an in-house general counsel. Many of their costs are related to the Office for Civil Rights, not personnel; however, still very expensive. It's not that they didn't have personnel issues (you can find them on the sister paper), but they were handled differently.

We have become a litigious society, unfortunately. Reducing costs probably involves training for a different approach to engaging with employees, parents, and students. That's possible, but involves someone catching the runaway stagecoach.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 23, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

You, I have asked the district for information about the lifetime benefits. I don't expect an immediate answer, but I will let people know what I learn. As much as I don't miss Casey, I don't think he started the practice. I also don't believe it was extended to teachers or classified staff. Again, I'll post what I learn.

I, for one, am not willing to provide a bond and a parcel tax. I can support a smaller bond, but would like to see some serious, out of the box, thinking about what that goes toward. With a new superintendent about to take the helm, I would wait to see how the bond is presented, for how much, and for what. I also want to see the district build trust with the community if the bond passes--will they fulfill the promises?

A parcel tax goes directly to the General Fund and provides "hydraulics" for relieving pressure elsewhere in the budget. Give $100,000 for an existing program, well that's $100,000 they can now spend on raises or anything else that the General Fund already covers. Without a new track record of fiscal responsibility, I'm not personally ready to support a parcel tax. I am encouraged by the changes at the district office; I look forward to supporting a new superintendent. But I think baby steps are in order. Let's try a smaller bond and see how that goes first.


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Posted by You
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 23, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Thanks for checking on the retirement medical but am pretty confident that it started with Clem and John. I thought I had the meeting where that started but cannot locate it so welcome you asking the district of when that vote took place. The benefit is available to any district employee who is enrolled in the medical plan when they retire before age 65. So many employees who were not even using the medical plan while employed sign up for medical in the last year of employment so that they receive this benefit.

There has been a lot of reasons to not trust the district based on some past action. However, I welcome the district to prove themselves being trusted now and want to see evidence that I should trust their fiscal responsibility BEFORE I would approve additional taxes. Don't give me, that was the past and we have fixed things. Rather, your actions now count. The latest vote to transfer the technology funds to a catering center and then assuming they will be repaid by a new bond is not a good start. The community was polled, albeit not a good poll previously, on what capital projects they would support for a new bond and the catering center was not even on that list. The district did not talk about all the capital projects, including the catering center, and prioritize the list. It was wrong for them to pick their first project without even vetting it with the community.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 23, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

You, I think there might be lifetime (beyond 65) benefits and benefits until 65. I could be wrong and so it is worth checking so we all have accurate information. I also think Dr. Callan had the benefits in her contract, but maybe it wasn't until she went to Palo Alto.

We agree on the rest of your post. I would like the Village project undone solely because of the use of the Sycamore fund.


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Posted by You
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 23, 2016 at 1:33 pm

The Sycamore fund was for selling an unused school site (that was taken by imminent domain). I wonder if any funds for this site came from the State for use in new school construction and now that those funds are not going towards new school construction if there is money the district will owe the state. Possibly the district is treating this as a "loan" to get around that?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 23, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

The fund was put in place by Dr. James after the sale of property that was donated for a school. To my knowledge, no state dollars are part of that fund or owed to the state.

There were $8 million dollars from the state for Career Technology Education programs. There is $2.4 million left that would have to be returned soon if unused. Hence the Village project.

Borrowing from Sycamore is possible in order to start the project assuming the bond passes to repay the loan from the Sycamore Fund. But that is an end run around what the community believes are the priorities for bond money.

The survey asked broader questions and didn't really get into specific projects. My question, given the demographer's report of high schools of nearly 2,700, does the community support a new high school; possibly small and/or a magnet for something like math/science?


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Posted by You
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 23, 2016 at 5:43 pm

The Sycamore property was not donated to the district. The district stole the property through eminent domain. The family that lived on that piece of land wanted to stay there but the district insisted that land was needed for a new high school. Then after paying for the land, kicking the family out, and razing the house, the district decided years later that it did not need to construct a high school there. The district then sold the land to a developer and pocketed the profit into what is now the sycamore fund. It was disheartening to see our school district take a piece of land and a house from somebody who did not want to sell and then later sell that land for a profit, and keep the profit. That was so wrong.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 23, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I will check into the eminent domain; there must be a record somewhere of that kind of action. I continue to learn.


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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

I too would like to know if this is correct, because that would be shameful if that was done.


Like this comment
Posted by Julie Testa
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 23, 2016 at 7:45 pm

The Sycamore site was taken though imminent domaine. Mr. Rodriquez saw my name in the paper when I was questioning the sale of what was intended as our third high school site. He called me to tell me the district stole it from him. They said the community needed it for a school so he had no choice. He was angry they were instead selling and making a profit on it, the profit that he felt belonged to him. He said it should have been for his retirement. He was living in San Ramon at the time. I had him talk to a reporter who did a story on it. That was over 20 years ago and before the Pleasanton Weekly existed.
State money was used to purchase the land. I talked to someone at CDE and they said the money would need to be paid back if the proceeds were not used for similar capital use. That is the only reason the money has not been used. The interest was the only part they could legally syphon off for non capital use. They have been playing fast and lose with non capital loans for years.


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Posted by Julie Testa
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 23, 2016 at 7:47 pm

Mr. Rodriquez did recieve some compensation but it was a fraction of what they then sold the land for.


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

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