News


School board votes to place $270-million bond measure on November ballot

Saturday's board meeting to be aired on Channel 28 at 10 a.m. Tuesday

The Pleasanton school board voted unanimously Saturday to place a $270-million general obligation bond measure on the ballot for the Nov. 8 General Election.

The measure will requires approval from at least 55% of those voting on the measure to pass.

If the measure is approved, the district will be authorized to issue and sell bonds of up to $270 million to fund specific school facilities projects that are on the board's approved project list.

The bond, which would be the district's first in nearly 20 years, would mean a tax of $49 per $100,000 of assessed valuation for Pleasanton

property owners.

“The board's support of this measure is an important step in building on the excellence of our schools through investing in 21st century learning environments and improving safety at our schools," said district superintendent Rick Rubino. “We look forward to speaking candidly with Pleasanton voters about the state of our schools, the bond project list and information for taxpayers."

The bond project list includes new classroom buildings at Lydiksen Elementary, 21st Century science labs at all Pleasanton middle and high schools, state of the art classroom technology, new solar structures to improve energy efficiency and cost savings and a new elementary school.

The final project list online at www.pleasantonusd.net/

The bond measure will be filed by Aug. 12 with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters and the

A campaign committee will be formed of

community members to handle all campaign related activities.

The Nov. 8 ballot measure will ask voters:

“To repair and upgrade aging classrooms and facilities at local schools; provide 21st­century learning technology and facilities; improve school safety and security; update science labs; improve energy and water efficiency; renovate, construct, and acquire classrooms, equipment and facilities; and construct a new elementary school, shall Pleasanton Unified School District issue $270,000,000 in bonds, at legal rates, with independent citizen oversight, annual audits, all funds used for local schools, and no money

used for administrators' salaries?"

“This is one of the most important votes that this board has made collectively," said Board President Jamie Hintzke. “We take the responsibility of going out for this bond very seriously and are very proud of the amount of effort and consideration this board, PUSD staff, and community members have committed to this investment in our students and community."

The special board meeting was videotaped by TV30 Community Broadcasting and will be rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday on Channel 28, and again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2.

Comments

12 people like this
Posted by Bill M.
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 1, 2016 at 11:56 am

We, as tax payers, all completely understand the needs and responsibilities of building and maintaining our local schools. However, when will this "Money Tree" be picked clean and can no longer bear any more "Money"!!! There has to be much more fiscal responsibility on the part of our school administrators to deploy "Money From The Tree" into the most important areas of need. Unfortunately, all good things do come to an end and one day there "will" be an end to these "Tax Payer Funded Bond Measures". My question is the following: "Then What"?


15 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 1, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Looks like the district wants the current taxpayers to build a new elementary school to house all the new students from the new housing being approved. This is not right to ask the current taxpayers to pay for the new school of these high-density apartments.

Also, I see the ballot statement above does not disclose that some of this money (around $20M) is going to refinance existing debt and will not be used for new projects. Like most government things, they raise more money so they can shift money around in the back end. Sort of like the lottery for 'the schools'. They take in money from the lottery and then use that in the school payments so the state can spend the offset of money on other projects. The old shell game. The lottery did not add any funds to schools (as they said it would). It just allowed the state to use this as a funding source and free up some money for their pet projects.


14 people like this
Posted by BB
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Aug 1, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Also it seems that the current home owners will foot the bill for the schools needed for all the people moving to Pleasanton and living in all the new apartments that Pleasanton is building. Seems unfair...


3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 1, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Local, there are 62 portables on the 9 current elementary sites. We needed this school long before recent development.

The debt refinancing, $14.7m I believe, is in the resolution and is clearly spelled out. This is Certificate of Participation debt, and at a citizen's suggestion, does not include paying off the $3ish million for the Neal site. It also cannot cost more nor be paid off later than the current COP debt.

Lottery funds were always General Fund dollars.

BB, most of the apartments were mandated by Sacramento. And it is likely to happen again.

Bill, my opinion is the ultimate culprit is Prop 13--the wrong answer to a real problem at the time. Now property taxes are different per home based on when you buy. Newest home owners pay more. And the uneven taxes hurt everything we want the state to pay for, particularly schools and roads.


14 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 1, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Without property 13, our state would be in dire shape. Much worse than now. The politicians will keep raising taxes until there is no more money to give. It is no coincidence that those who are against proposition 13 are those who work in government.

The ballot statement, as per this article is:
To repair and upgrade aging classrooms and facilities at local schools; provide 21st­century learning technology and facilities; improve school safety and security; update science labs; improve energy and water efficiency; renovate, construct, and acquire classrooms, equipment and facilities; and construct a new elementary school, shall Pleasanton Unified School District issue $270,000,000 in bonds, at legal rates, with independent citizen oversight, annual audits, all funds used for local schools, and no money used for administrators' salaries?"

Nothing there says it is being used to pay off existing debt. Did the paper get this statement wrong?

Also, Kathleen said " It also cannot cost more nor be paid off later than the current COP debt. " Where does the ballot statement or the bond language say that?

Lottery funds were supposed to enhance our schools, not be for the general fund. Nobody approved the lottery when that was on the ballot "to give money to the state to spend however the politicians want."


3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 1, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

You'll have to watch the meeting. Changes were discussed and voted on at the meeting.

13--I said it was the wrong solution to a real problem. I don't think it's only government employees (I worked corporate side and the rest of my family still does); it's anyone who buys a home, say, since you did? I once had a conversation with a long standing member of the community who indicated, as a new arrival in CA, I was "paying for the privilege of living here." My response: "I don't mind paying for that privilege; I just think you need to pay for the privilege too."

Lottery per Goverment Code: Web Link.


12 people like this
Posted by Prop 13 real issue
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 1, 2016 at 4:47 pm

The issue with prop 13 is that it should never have to been applied to business properties. That includes residential rental property as well. People who argue the unfairness of neighbors paying a different amount miss the point. If you paid 200K for your house and I paid a million some years later for my similar house my tax will be five times your amount. And so will my mortgage payment. If it is so unfair that I pay the higher tax then why should I also have to play the higher mortgage? The percentage is the same. My car costs less, my registration is less. These things happen all the time. That part of prop 13 is fair. Allowing commercial and income property to use the same rules is what's wrong with it.

About giving the PUSD all of that money when they have shown utterly irresponsible money management skills. Well voting in favor of that issue sort of defines stupid in my opinion.


3 people like this
Posted by BB
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Aug 1, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Kathleen I know how the apartments came to be, Pleasanton waited too long to build and then Sacramento stepped in. Just saying you will be paying for the schools for those kids and as you said "it is likely to happen again".


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 1, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Prop, this is a bond; different use; different rules. There was a promise that, prior to the election, specific needs, by site, will be provided. I don't think it passes without those specifics. The blue book, which attaches real cost, will come when conversations with architects and contractors begin.

There is negotiating the price of your house and mortgage rate--on you. You can look for the best deals, but property taxes aren't negotiable. Then there are property taxes which should be more reflective of the load you place on services. If a couple bought a home ten years ago for $300,000 and has grown to a family of five, should their tax be lower for the same house purchased today for $600,000 by a family of five? What Prop 13 tried to address was seniors being taxed out of their homes. There were other possible solutions.

As for rentals, it's an interesting question. 300 condos across the street from 300 apartments--the condo taxes increase with each sale, but with one longtime owner, do the rental property taxes stay low? I am guessing the tax on any property increases with a sale, but I'm not an expert.


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 1, 2016 at 5:30 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

BB, I would guess the new developments, including the apartments, are paying developer fees. I suppose the question is whether they pay at the business rate of something like .57 per square foot, or the higher housing fee of $3ish per square foot. I'll ask, but it usually takes a few days to get an answer. The problem is those buildings go up faster than you can plan for and build a school, so we are always behind the eight ball.


9 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 1, 2016 at 6:08 pm

Kathleen, the problem is not just with seniors being forced out of their homes without prop 13. Everybody would be forced out of their house. Does it make sense that if your neighbors improve their lots and bring up the resale value of your neighborhood that you have your taxes increased? When I buy a home, I know what my costs will be and what I can afford. If the property taxes can keep going up, without my control, I will no longer be able to afford to live in my house and would be forced to sell. This is not an issue in other states as housing is not going up as fast as California. Plus the California legislators feel they are entitled to our money and raise taxes at every possible chance. Also, if we did not have prop 13, prop taxes would keep going up and the government would spend all the taxes. Then when the housing market collapsed, the government would receive significantly less property taxes and cities all over the state would be filing for bankruptcy as they did their budgets on the growing housing values, and no decline. I think we can thank prop 13 as it saved many cities from bankruptcy.

The issue with businesses is they can structure their deals in a way that avoids a 50% or greater ownership change, which causes a tax increase. Business owners through shell corporations can sell 50% of their property to one shell, and then later 50% to another shell. And even if those shells are owned by the same person/group, it does not constitute a greater than 50% sale.

Just because this is a bond does not mean we all of a sudden trust the financial decisions of the district. Money will be moved around. That is why I would like to see a smaller bond so that the district can rebuild trust. Once we pass a bond like this, the district can issue the bonds and charge us. If we see it is not going the way we expected, there is no way we can stop them from issuing bonds. Smaller bonds allows them to do things in smaller chunks and if they do a good job, the public will have no problem in giving more.


4 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 1, 2016 at 6:10 pm

@kathleen, you said: "You'll have to watch the meeting. Changes were discussed and voted on at the meeting." So does that mean you do not know if the article in this paper is correct on the ballot language? I assume you were there so would appreciate knowing if this article is incorrect or not since you must know that information.


1 person likes this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 1, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Kathleen,

Property taxes can be negotiated.

Upon receiving an assessment, that seems unfair, too excessive for your modest home. The tax collector is approachable for tax payer to make their case for reducing the assessment. There is a history of the tax collector reducing the assessment.


12 people like this
Posted by Crumudgeon
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 1, 2016 at 6:37 pm

Starve the beast. Vote no.


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 1, 2016 at 7:27 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Michael, you are right. I don't think it is an easy hurdle, but I do recall in the last property value drop, homes were reassessed. Thanks!

Local, I meant the resolution, which is backup to the language, specifically calls out the COPs and language that set restrictions was added during the discussion. I was there, but I didn't take notes. It doesn't appear to be on the PUSD website.


3 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 1, 2016 at 8:38 pm

The resolution is not on the ballot though, correct? This is going to be one of the longest ballots and the voter's handbook is going to be a book so people are not going to be reading the whole handbook. The ballot statement is by law supposed to be impartial but like all government-sponsored items, they abuse their power and use the statement like a marketing message and not impartial. Sorry for the negativism but I am so tired of government abuse. I will wait and see when the ballot comes out. If the ballot statement is not complete, indicating it will be used to pay off previous debt, I will campaign against the bond. It would be the first move to show the district has not changed and cannot be trusted yet.


14 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 1, 2016 at 9:27 pm

Many many bonds on the ballot. Vote no as this is a fraud


17 people like this
Posted by Over Taxed
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Aug 1, 2016 at 11:00 pm

There are far too many bonds being proposed and approved by voters currently. It seems like a money grab by the politicians trying to take advantage of the partial job recovery. Bond measures are proposed on what appears to be a relatively modest increase by describing the cost per $100,000. Do the math and compute the total cost per house and then run the total cost of all of the new bond measures cumulatively. On first look, some might just see $49 and fail to do the math on their assessed value.

Don't be fooled by bond measures that make it appear to be a minimal cost. Hold the administrators accountable to better management of the high taxes you already pay before you can no longer afford to live in the home they keep raising yor taxes on.

Vote no on yet another bond measure.


21 people like this
Posted by Dishonest tax
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 2, 2016 at 1:02 am

This new tax does not include the over $40 million dollars the taxpayers still need to be paid off by Pleasanton residents for the prior bond measure which was called Measure B. PUSD is:

1. Trying to dupe the voters that this Bond will replace the old Bond when it is adding $270 million plus interest that our children and grandchildren will have to pay off over several decades on top of the $ 40 million we are already still stuck with from Measure B.

2. Through sleight of hand and dishonesty the PUSD is passing on to voters a new liability to pay off debt the District incurred without a vote of the people when it took out loans called Certificates of Participation then tagged on $5 million extra in 2010 as part of a dishonest loan refinancing deal put in place by Luz Cazares. She claimed the PUSD would save $850,000. in fact it added $5 million to the existing $22 million loan amount. This bond passes on the Loan debt taken out without a vote of the people to the Pleasanton residents. Offloading debt the voters never agreed to in the first place is underhanded.

The illegal cash out refinancing the District did means existing bonds will not be paid off until 2025. They have failed to use developer fees to build new facilities and have instead spent the money on legal fees to law firms and growth supplies which then means the General Fund has been used for raises, more legal fees and salaries.

The PUSD needs to pay off its old debt and redirect developer fees and the so called gift fees to school construction and then in 2025 put forth a new bond measure for the voters. We have had enough of antics like this. Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by Richard Michael
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2016 at 8:49 am

Leases are operational expenses. As many of you have rightly pointed out, paying off existing leases or cerificates of participation (COPs) is not permitted under Proposition 39.

The most critical (and free) task is to get an argument against in the sample ballot. Only one argument will be accepted and it can have up to 5 signers. The deadline is approaching quickly.

California School Bonds Clearinghouse (bigbadbonds dot com) is helping coordinate getting grassroots arguments on local ballot around the state. While music to some people's ears, anti-tax arguments don't sell well to voters.

The outsiders that are pushing these local bonds around the state are professionals and they're coordinated.

When you realize that this is not about local school construction, but about a paristical industry that is draining local taxpayers through naive school boards for huge profits.

Richard Michael
909-378-5401
Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Long Time Local
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2016 at 8:55 am

We long time P-towners will vote NO. School district "ain't what it used to be" especially once previous Supt. Ahmadi (however it's spelled) was hired and the PUSD board members during her unfortunate time here made a mess of it. We lost several (too many) GOOD principals, teachers who truly cared about students during past 3-5 years.


5 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2016 at 10:02 am

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Oh my gosh, the "We lost several (too many) GOOD principals" statement appears again. Most of the principals lost were due to retirements (Hansen and Whitney are good examples) or promotions (Rocha, Parsons and Bolar are good examples). A few also simply moved out of the area. Very few moved on to different districts in the area, whether that was due to Ahmadi or something else. And at least one move out of district was considered a positive for the district by most involved.


5 people like this
Posted by Alberto
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 2, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Read Roman Emire, it crumbled due in part to massive taxation


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 2, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

local, yes the resolution requests that it be part of the ballot. As to the lengthy ballot, I am proactively asking that voters start locally (likely the back of the pamphlet) as they read and vote. I have asked and will continue to push for the resolution and a by site list of projects as part of the campaign. As for your negativism, please give the new team (and three of the four most senior administrators are new) a chance. We cannot continue to scream no trust and not give them a chance to prove themselves.

Pete, please state what part is fraud. Otherwise it is an accusation without fact.

Overtaxed, how the amount is listed cents/hundred and dollars/$100,000 are required. The resolution spells out the anticipated repayment amount. Information has been clear as to what this would mean for an average household, and even I have posted that. A home with an assessed value (not the same as market value for most of us) of $600,000 would be about $300 a year. One way the district will gain trust is to be completely honest and transparent about the costs to property owners.

Dishonest Tax, (1) this is inaccurate to the point of falsehood. The governance team has communicated this bond, should it pass, will be on top of the bond we currently pay. That bond is about $20/$100,000 right now and reduces to about $2/$100,000 in the early 2020s.

(2) Your second point and subsequent paragraph mix apples and oranges and tries to make a blueberry pie out of it. The COPs paid for the straightening of Vineyard, a bill from the city of about $4M; the preschool; and Foothill and Amador upgrades if I recall correctly. All information you can get from the district. I do not believe the refinancings were handled by the COPs; they were added to the current bond we are paying. I am guessing Ms. Cazares was given marching orders, not making these decisions on her own. And certainly the board would have had to approve it. It is not underhanded if the community is informed that this bond pays off the COPs. And it is clear in the documentation. I will have to confirm if developer fees paid for the two failed lawsuits against Signature Properties. Even if it did, where did you propose that money come from? Mind you, I think both suits were ill advised, and we lost a school in the process.

Much of the developer fees has been used to add portables to all the campuses. It's an awful solution, as is waiting until 2025. Our students, today's students, and those who will enter the schools over the next eight years (kids not even born yet) deserve better. You are suggesting punishing these young people for the egregious behavior of adults.

Richard Michael, thank you for your phone call, but I am not opposed to the bond. I'm sure others will contact you.

GtF, thanks for responding to LTL.

Prop 13 ended increasing property taxes that covered the costs of the services everyone still demands. At least bonds allow individual communities to determine whether they wish to pay for those services--like a decent education in a quality facility.

I understand the inclination to vote no, but then tell me what the plan is for our community's children. My guess is there isn't one.


6 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Dad
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 2, 2016 at 2:13 pm

I think this is the right move at the right time. Classrooms in Pleasanton are twice as full as when I was a student growing up in California. Many of the district's facilities are in dire need of updating and expansion. Pleasanton is a wonderful place to live and, as a result, the student population is growing. We owe our children an educational experience that is at least as good as it was in the past. I will wholeheartedly support this bond measure.


10 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 2, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Kathleen, I want to trust the district but not yet ready to give them the access code to my complete bank account. Lets build trust with a smaller bond and then go for more once they prove their competence.

There were a couple of things that "Dishonest tax" said that may be a bit confusing the way he/she said it.

The district took out the COPs and later refinanced them, costing them $5M more. The bankers must have been paying somebody off in the administration for this incredibly bad deal for the taxpayers. Luz never did tell the board, who had to approve it, that this was costing the district $5M.

The other thing the district did was cash-out in the refinancing of our previous bonds. They essentially took out loans for a greater amount that the public approved. Even the attorney general said that what our district did was illegal. Even with doing this illegal activity, the administration held their ground and said what they did was fine because a consultant told them it was fine (the consultant was paid a lot of money to lie and the administration knew it since every other bond consultant told the district so).

You said "Prop 13 ended increasing property taxes that covered the costs of the services everyone still demands." Hogwash! Increased pension and post-retirement costs are taking away services we paid for. We do not have an income problem. We have a spending problem. California is one of the highest tax states in the country and pays one of the lowest for schools. The legislators just cannot control themselves and love to spend other peoples money and they are controlled quite a bit by the public employee unions whose jobs are to extract as much money from the taxpayer as they can. When I see any issue or candidate that is supported by a public employee union, I know not to vote for it as it is never in the favor of the taxpayer.


7 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 2, 2016 at 7:54 pm

@local-- Good call on all points, the district will regain my trust when they can straighten out this mess without robbing peter(us) to pay paul( lawyers, admin,outside consultants)!with over 45 years here and having to observe our teachers with my kids and grandkids 99% of our teachers earn every dime they make so let's not blame them for this mess start at the top and start chopping. My vote is No until I know where that money is going and they have no wiggle room to use it somewhere else.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 3, 2016 at 8:29 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

local, it is a smaller bond--smaller than they wanted; much less than the projected need. I would have been happier with it being smaller than $270M, but it now includes a school they were not planning on anytime soon. It was a good compromise.

Thanks for that clarification. My only other comment is one I've said already, this is a new administration. The are being incredibly helpful and should be able to provide better facilities for our children.

Pensions are not going to be solved locally; it's a state and national issue. Prop 13 was still the wrong answer to the very real problem and the solution has been bonds. We were never going to build schools from the general fund, and the set aside, in the best of times, was never going to be enough to address the needs of 14 schools. When the state changed the rules to solve their problems they allowed districts to not save for deferred maintenance. Most, if not all, districts took advantage of that ruling.

To get back to a promise I made earlier in the thread, here are the developer fees provided by the administration:

Residential (single- or multi-family): $7.50 Note 3
Residential Multi-family Rental: Affordable housing, $3.36; Notes 5, 6 Market rate, $4.50 Notes 4, 5
Senior Housing: $.54 Note 6
Newly Installed Mobile Home: $7.50 Note 3
Residential Additions: $7.50 Note 3
Replacement Construction: $7.50 Note 3
Commercial: $.54 Note 6

Notes:
1. A Developer who previously signed the “Cooperative Fee Agreement,” or a Developer who previously signed a “Gift Fee Agreement” with the District, is subject to separate mitigation schedules established by those agreements. If this applies, please contact the Business Department for details.
2. For a Residential Addition, special rules apply.
3. This rate will increase to: (a) $8.25 effective October 1, 2016; and (b) $9.00 effective October 1, 2017.
4. This rate will increase to: (a) $4.95 effective October 1, 2016; and (b) $5.40 effective October 1, 2017.
5. If the form of ownership is converted, the higher mitigation amount will apply (e.g. a Residential Multi-Family Rental Affordable Housing unit converts to a Residential Multi-Family Rental Market Rate unit, or a Residential Multi-Family Rental Market Rate unit converts to a Multi-Family Ownership unit).
6. This rate set forth in this Summary of Applicable School Mitigation Amounts will be periodically recalculated for each calendar year, effective each January 1, based on inflationary adjustments by the State Allocation Board for that calendar year.

Map, "teachers deserve every dime" . . . do teachers, and their students, not also deserve a first class learning environment? And they have to tell us where bond dollars are going; and there is an independent auditor; and there is a citizen's oversight committee. Volunteer to be on the latter.





5 people like this
Posted by Susie
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 3, 2016 at 10:28 am

hmm, so let me see, interesting that it reads $49 per 100,000 as most people will see $49 and think no big deal. Doing the math on a assessed property value of $500,000, I will be paying a tax of $245 in addition to the dollar a day to each school that I already pay to PTA of $450, and an additional $500 to PPIE. So now I'm up to $1195 and that still doesn't cover any "suggested donations" i.e. fees for my kids to participate in any school sport. Love this "free education" that we receive! Vote NO


1 person likes this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 3, 2016 at 10:56 am

Susie, the misleading thing is the $49 per $100,000 is an estimate/guess and not the limit. They are asking us to approve a certain dollar amount for the bond, not a certain cost to the taxpayers. Depending on interest rates and market conditions, this could be higher than $49 per $100,000. In fact, I believe the current bond we are still paying on (you forgot to list that in your current district expenses) had language on the cost per $100,000 but we ended up paying higher than that.

So if you are making your decision on $49, realize it can be higher and past experience shows that.

As for the bond being "less than they wanted", that goes without saying. The government always wants more. That is a silly statement saying they wanted more and this is a good compromise. Have you ever seen a government agency that says "that is plenty of money and we do not want any more?"


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 3, 2016 at 11:03 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Susie, the $49/$100,000 has been made clear including what an average household will pay. The campaign will have to be forthright about the cost per household. The $/AV language is required by the state. I would agree about the cost of sports if every child who wished to do so was allowed to participate, but they aren't.

There is no doubt how schools are funded, across the country, needs a change. California has $120/student for eduction in the constitution. Because it isn't enough, funding has morphed into archaic formulas that take Pleasanton property taxes, mails them to Sacramento, and through prestidigitation those tax dollars are syphoned elsewhere.

You want what is best for your children, that is clear by what you already do for them. It won't mean much if the classrooms are not functional for learning.


5 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 3, 2016 at 11:25 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

local, we can hold them to the $49. It means not selling more bonds until they can stay within that amount. I've seen it done. The higher rates were the refinancings done by previous administrators. The administrators since have worked with concerned citizens to get to the bottom of that mess. The then state attorney, Brown, declared it illegal; amusing because Brown did it when he was a mayor of Oakland.

It isn't silly. They would have gone for $312M and hadn't included a school. It was a good compromise. As to wanting more, that is a people problem, not a government problem. We work; we expect raises and promotions; we want what others have and for it to us cost less. You could look for actual donkeys and elephants to run government I suppose.


3 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 3, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Kathleen, you are wrong as we cannot hold them to the $49. We are voting on the amount of dollars in bonds that can be issued. Could the district limit the bonds outstanding to not cost more than $49 per $100,000? Yes. Can we require the district to limit the bonds to not cost more than $49 per $100,000? NO. It is not in the bond language which is the legal document. If the district wants to limit to $49, they should put their money where their mouth is and put that restriction in the measure being submitted to the county. That is the legal document. If they add it to the ballot arguments or to a brochure, that is not a legal document and they are not held to it. It would be like the previous parcel tax of the district. The parcel tax said that seniors have to apply for exemptions each year. In some messages form the district they were telling seniors that they do not have to file each year and that was illegal. If the legal document states something, it has to be followed.

I think you have been working for the government for too long :-). I have never met a government entity that would not like more money. I have also never met a person who did not want more money. Sure, if my employer asked me if I wanted more money I would answer "yes". I am stating it is silly to ask somebody/entity if they want more money. In the non-government sector, we have a finite amount of income in our business. We have to be live within our means and be competitive. There are always compromises. I would love to tell my customers that if they want the same service they have to pay more. In the private sector world, the customer would go somewhere else.

"You could look for actual donkeys and elephants to run government I suppose." Sounds like the presidential race :-).


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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"In the non-government sector, we have a finite amount of income in our business."
Schools are not an income business.

"I would love to tell my customers that if they want the same service they have to pay more."
Schools run off of taxes. Public schools cost more to run every year. Do you expect schools to run on the same amount of money each year? It costs more each year, where should the increase in cost come from?

"In the private sector world, the customer would go somewhere else."
This is public schools, unless you can afford private school or homeschool (and most people I know cannot afford these options), the "customer" cannot go somewhere else. Just like PG&E, water or garbage service, most people are stuck with just one option.


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Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 3, 2016 at 4:33 pm

My income goes up over time which means the taxes I pay go up over time which means the income to the state goes up over time. So the tax income raises at the same rate as cost of living. If the school income is not raising by the cost of living, that means the state is siphoning money off for the legislature's pet projects.

Every entity has income and expenses. Government agencies are just like businesses in this regard. Unless you print your own money, you are reliant on income.

"Get the Facts", sounds like you are advocating for a school voucher system.


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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2016 at 8:55 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

First off, I am most definitely NOT advocating for the voucher system. I'm not sure what let you to that conclusion.

"Every entity has income and expenses." The schools system most definitely has expenses, PUSD alone is well over 100 million a year. But please tell me what the income is? Public school students don't pay tuition like they would at college, we can't raise tuition, because it doesn't exist. So please tell me what I missed, what public school income is, because gosh I thought our taxes paid for schools.


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Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 3, 2016 at 9:19 pm

The taxes we pay are income for the district. Every year the district reports the financials which shows the expenses and yes, the income. In fact the state pays the district per pupil, plus other program and the district also has income from the local taxpayers from our property taxes to pay for the existing bond and income from the developers for school fees. Not sure what your definition of income is. Assuming the district does not print money, it needs income to pay for expenses.


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Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2016 at 10:10 pm

BobB is a registered user.

"So the tax income raises at the same rate as cost of living."

Prop 13 caps property tax increases at 2% maximum per year, which was lower than inflation in many years. Property tax doesn't increase at the "same rate as cost of living." That is a big part of the problem.


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Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 4, 2016 at 10:07 am

BBob,

Inflation index according the bureau of labor standards over the last decade is less than 1% year to year and property taxes are not the issue. Wage and job growth are a big part of the issue. At less than 1% GDP growth for the year our economy is basically on life support. No wage growth, no income tax revenue increase. Wages for a family have actually dropped by about $4,000 over the last decade. Now here is the real issue. The only area of growth is the stock market and it is at record highs. California pensions are heavily leaveraged in the markets and still have a $200 billion deficit so what happens when the markets levelize? Big problem.

Related to this bond everyone should vote no until an itemize list is presented which has been authenticated by someone on the outside. A wish list is not a needs list. Don't forget there are a lot more $$$ requests on the ballot.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 4, 2016 at 10:45 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pete, there will be a list. I have suggested schools be opened on a Saturday for citizens to see for themselves. Are you willing to pay for an architect or contractor to review the items? I don't think it's a wrong idea; I just don't think you will believe anyone the district hires.


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Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 4, 2016 at 10:52 am

Kathleen,

Yes I think it's a great idea and is what people are asking for. A structural engineer could easily do the assessment of replace versus repair or even if anything is needed. The only thing on the list should be what is required to educate our children not the frills.


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Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 4, 2016 at 11:16 am

BobB, the property taxes do not go directly to the schools. The state decides how much each school district receives on a per pupil (per ADA actually). The property taxes are a source of income for the State as well as income and sales taxes, and a whole bunch of other taxes (payroll, etc.). Also, although our property taxes increases are capped, the state makes much more that the increase due to new construction as well as transfers. Even if our property taxes went up 4%, that does not mean the schools get 4% increases. The money pot essentially goes to the State and they provide the income to the schools based on all of the taxes and prop 98.

Also, the biggest threat to income to the schools is the pension and post-retirement costs that have been skyrocketing and also have unrealistically high return assumptions which if not met requires the taxpayer to make up for the difference. And since the State pays for the schools, any money the State spends in pensions, whether for school officials, teachers, CHP, State workers, etc.) is that much less money available to the schools.

As for the list of projects, remember this is just an example of what the district can spend the bond money on. This list is not part of the bond proposal which is the legal document. That is why many suggested the district wait for the bond measure until they could specify this and put the list in the bond measure. Without this list IN THE BOND MEASURE, it is not legally binding. You are still subject to the whims of the school board, now and in the future. At the previous Board meeting, the bond consultant told the board to intentionally leave things vague in the bond so that they have the flexibility to do what they want. As for the 'oversight committee', they are advisory. The board still makes the decisions.

At this point, you should vote for the bond if you want the district to have $270 million more money for capital and repairs which could be used for items on a list you hear about but then again, maybe not.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 4, 2016 at 11:26 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pete, what would you determine are frills? Most of the list is repair; some is technology; a big portion is a new elementary (yeah!); another big piece is essentially tearing down Lydiksen. That general list has been available for a long time. 5.2 on the July 30 agenda, Attachment C, is the final document and can be found here: Web Link

Here's the link to the video of the July 30 meeting: Web Link

Here's the link to the discussion on July 7 for the project list: Web Link


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 4, 2016 at 11:41 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

local, I have already stated our money gets mailed to Sacramento and then disappears. You know I know how funding works, so don't make it sound otherwise.

We agree that pensions are a problem eating at the General Fund.

The list IS part of the proposal. You can find it here, 5.3 Attachment A, Web Link Keep in mind some additions were made by the Board for purposes of clarification.

The board and staff remain honest especially if we are participating. In Palo Alto, each item for their bond came before the board something like 12 times, from initial architectural plans to change orders to paint colors. Their auditor and oversight committee had separate time on the agenda. This is not impossible here. We can and should expect transparency.


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Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 4, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Kathleen,

The school board had a study done independently and they said we did not need a new school because of future decline in couples with children. This bond should be for repairs to lengthen life of buildings and such not for other things. We should also demand that annual maintenance cannot be deferred or for that money to be used for other purposes. I have said time and again that this bond as written is at best crummy. Step back, do it right, add science to it, get buy in. This does not need to happen in November and there is no urgency to put forth a crummy bond. Nothing wrong with the elementary schools here they just need routine maintenance.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 4, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

There are 62 portables on elementary campuses; equivalent to two elementary schools and then some. That study also indicated the need for two more eke tart schools in the not too distant future. The reason the study says no schools is they are told to include portables as permanent. We needed school(s) years ago.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 4, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sorry--auto correct. Eke tart is elementary. A lot can go wrong in two years waiting to rewrite what will not change.


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Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 4, 2016 at 1:51 pm

I see nothing wrong with a portable. Same as a classroom with lights, electricity, water and the like. Lots of companies use them permanently.


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Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 4, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Kathleen, don't think you were reading my posting correctly. You said "local, I have already stated our money gets mailed to Sacramento and then disappears. You know I know how funding works, so don't make it sound otherwise." The posting I did said "BobB, the property taxes do not go directly to the schools. The state decides how much each school district receives on a per pupil (per ADA actually). ...". If you read this, I was addressing BobB and not you. Please see BobB's previous postings and you will understand why I posted this.

The "list" that is part of the proposal is very high level and does not say which schools it is for, priorities, etc. Just like the bond consultant said, "keep it general to give the board the most flexibility." Even with people speaking at the meeting to make it more specific as the community wants to know that and know you are bound to it, the board ignored the public and went with the bond consultant. We will have to agree to disagree on this. I could have gone with some of the general list items if it were a smaller bond to obtain trust but this is for $270M which is above my comfort level in trusting the district at the moment although I do not feel comfortable using a 30 year bond, with interest, to pay for maintenance items like painting.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 4, 2016 at 5:06 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Apologies, local.

The governance team agreed to release a per site list. I have asked again in an email for the list with their best approximations of cost. More people need to make the request. While those estimates would be only that, it is a fair starting point. We can hold them to the more specific list because it is on what they are basing the general list. Do I expect they will open a wall and find something like stachybotris; sure. And if they do, it is covered on the list of possible mitigations and the project will cost more. While I love specificity, I have done enough remodels to expect costs to increase based on unknowns. Painting is off the list as a category. Painting now would only be where touch ups, etc. might be needed. Drop off areas also are gone.


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Posted by woggut
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 4, 2016 at 8:12 pm


RE: "Get the Facts", sounds like you are advocating for a school voucher system.
Have a friend who moved here from Canada, was shocked that he couldn't send kids to school of his choice - that's what a public school is in Canada (or at least in Quebec). Same thing in most of Europe. The US is the outlier among developed countries in limiting school choice. We're probably the outlier in allowing public employee union contributions to political campaigns.

On the pensions front, check out the 16/17 budget. Pension costs are set to double over the next few years. We don't know what the peak is going to be yet, CALSTRS/CALPRS is amortizing the shortfall over 15 years. They use a assumed rate of return of 7.5% which is totally unrealistic so the number will get higher. Salaries are effectively 25% higher than are being reported because of the unfunded pension liability. Calpers earned 2.4% in 2014 and 0.6% in 2015, Calstrs did a little bit better. This is paying for the pension gap from prior years of service.


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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2016 at 9:52 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

woggut, my quote was: "I am most definitely NOT advocating for the voucher system. I'm not sure what let you to that conclusion."

How on earth do you or anyone else think that I am "advocating for a school voucher system"??? I think kids should go to the school in their area, and I find it a huge bummer when kids are overflowed to schools other than their home school.

Let me say again, I am not in favor of ANY type of voucher system.


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Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 5, 2016 at 3:58 pm

I wonder how much money the school district loses each year due to famlies taking vacation during the school year. If I remember correctly, that is the reason PUSD now has a week off for Thanksgiving instead of Thanksgiving Day and the Friday following. The financial loss of those 3 days changed the calendar. Does anybody know how much money the district loses due to holiday absence? I remember while in elementary school many people took off during conference week because they were only half days, then they still took the entire Thanksgiving week.

If enough people are doing that, enough to make the PUSD change their calendar, it's very sad. Kathleen, do you know the statistics on this or how we could go about finding the how much money the district loses due to school year vacations? Is it possible that if everyone took holiday during the actual holiday time, the PUSD would have more coins to keep the facilities in good repair?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 5, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

local, the calendar was adjusted for other reasons (finals before winter break; earlier start; earlier finish), but November is horrible. There is no money lost on the half days because they meet the minimum requirement for ADA. And the district asks for parents to donate the money they lose when a child is absent ($25?). I will check, but I don't think the district gets ADA for excused absences anymore either. I'm sure there are statistics on what is lost. I'll see what I can find, but if it requires a PRA, it could take some time. As to having more money for repairs . . . my guess is no.


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Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 5, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Different 'local' here...

The district does not receive ADA money for excused absences. Does not matter if you are taking a vacation or a sick day, the district does not receive the money from the state. This is something the district should be working with our state representatives on. The current system is there to save the state some money. However, I care about our school district and our expenses are the same even if a child is absent. The state is essentially saying that they would prefer sick kids at school instead of staying at home. Just like the state law requires a certain amount of sick time now for employees, it should allow a certain amount of sick time for students without affecting the district. This seems like a good thing to advocate with Kathleen Baker on.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 5, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

From the district web site: "Elective Absences -The expectation of the PUSD is that students attend school on every day of instruction with limited exceptions (e.g., illness, funeral). With every absence, students miss valuable instruction time. In addition, the PUSD loses $56.07 in revenue for each absence (even excused absences). For the past few years, we have attempted to educate parents about avoiding elective absences (e.g., extended weekends, family trips, medical appointments) and asked parents to make voluntary contributions to reimburse the District for revenue lost. Last year, we received almost $1,784 in donations."

Here's a truancy report for the district: Web Link


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Posted by Local2
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 8, 2016 at 8:20 am

Kathleen, I hope I'm reading this correctly. I added the absences from the truancy report which had the number of truant students. To qualify as truant, they need 3 or more unexcused days. The ADA is $56.07 (x3 for each student as a minimum qualifier to be on report). That adds up to a whopping $577,464.93 - and that's only if each student was absent 3 times. I'm sure some were only 3 days, but I would imagine the majority is higher. Added to the loss of funds for excused absences, and the fact that the 577K is a low-ball figure, it's easy to see why the PUSD is losing money. I like the idea os "Different Local" to try to do something about this at the state level. Kids should not be going to school sick, but the operating cost of a school is the same, regardless of whether attendance is 100% or 80%. Disappointing, but thank you for the information.


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Posted by Local2
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 8, 2016 at 8:31 am

Kathleen, just wanted to clarify that I was talking about the calendar that changed Thanksgiving back in the late '90s (could have been 2000 or 2001). Been a long time since the kids were in school, but I do recall that the reason given was loss of ADA for people going on vacation the whole week. After that change, it seemed counter productive because people were still taking off the week before (used to be conference week in elementary). Some parents thought it was nice because they could do things like go to Disneyland before Thanksgiving week because it was less crowded. I wasn't opposed to this at the time because I was only thinking of our family with relatives back East, so having the whole week off made it easier for us to travel over the holiday. As time went on, it seemed to be more abused with people taking extra days the week before. Disclosure: I have no kids currently enrolled in the schools now. It just seems like a lot of money is being lost and the schools have been suffering from lack of funds.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 8, 2016 at 9:02 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Local 2, I was amazed at the figures from CDE. I hope to dig into this more with district staff. An excused absence should be just that, excused and paid for; but the state keeps finding ways to take away funding. Maybe a good question for Sacramento would be where they are spending the funds that would otherwise be given to districts for, at least, excused absences.


1 person likes this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 8, 2016 at 11:05 am

I believe the truancy report includes those who are tardy also.

The absences are just a way for the state to take money away from the schools.


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

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