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Original post made
on Apr 1, 2009
I'm disgusted by the lies that Mike Arata is disseminating. In order to avoid a relatively insignificant property tax increase that will provide a substantial boost for our underfunded schools, I mean come, I can't even believe we're having this discussion. A yes vote on Measure C is so obvious it is absurd. Perhaps it is just me, but when I hear the kind of arguments against Measure C that Mr. Arata was making it takes me back to stories about weapons of mass destruction. People will make up just about anything to support their position these days, but I think and hope that Danville/San Ramon voters are too smart to fall for that. Anyone with a brain in their head knows that California schools are underfunded and it will get substantially worse if Measure C does not pass. The Danville area is affluent, particularly by comparsion to many other areas of California. If we want to keep this an area that families want to live in and maintain property values (relative to other areas), even though they are dropping right now, we need to keep our schools strong. That is a key reason why Danville has such a strong reputation and why people still want to live here, even in this economy. Come on people, forego buying the latest IPod or IPhone for another year and do what is right and pay your share to keep our schools strong. We can't afford to take the risk that the area's children and their education will suffer because of personal selfishness and greed.
As much as I'd like to see our schools well funded, and in spite of the fact that Arata is wrong or misleading on much of his financial analysis, he is absolutely correct on his accusation about how the Board funds its projects with "end run around" practices.
I have seen the Board do it with both tax assessment money, as well as bond measure money. The public is told "we will not use this money for x." But when the Board decides to fund "x" it uses general funds and then back fills the general fund with the very tax assement dollars or bonds dollars it told the public were safe from "x."
As for the oversight committee - it's not so much a crony committee, although some people, like Rachel Hurd, have been hand-picked for that purpose. The real problem is that the oversight committee has no real authority, and when the committee advises the Board against a certain spending action (like building a $4M parking lot) it is ignored, and the press never covers the boring meetings, so the public is unaware its money is being spent in ways that conflict with promises the Board made when the bonds and taxes were proposed.
The fact is that I feel caught between a rock and a hard place. I understand our children need the best education our resources allow, and I understand that property values are buoyed by great schools. On the other hand I have seen our previous investment in the schools squandered, mismanaged and appropriated for individual Board member's pet projects. How can I trust the Board this time when it promises to spend our money wisely and to protect or improve the quality of our kids' education and facilities?
Before I'm willing to entrust the Board, yet again, with millions of tax dollars, I'd like to see the following things happen. A) An oversight committee formed that has ACTUAL authority to block spending that is not in line with taxpayer promised priorities; and b) an end to the back fill spending practice. When the Board steps up and takes bold action ensuring accountability, they'll have my vote. Heck, I'll even stand on a freeway overpass and wave a sign.
Mr. Parnas, the " personal selfishness and greed" that you feel is keeping our schools "underfunded" is precisely the mindset that MADE the "Danville area... affluent."
You have incorrectly labeled the attitude.
We want value for our money, and we want to keep as much of the money we earn as we legally can. We are an EXCEPTIONALLY GENEROUS community as a whole. One of the reasons this is such a desirable area is that by and large, we pay our bills on time. One of the ways we make sure we can do that is to live within our means. If we choose to vote to keep our taxes at the current astronomical level, it is because we cannot afford to pay more.
Why don't you FORGO (that is, to go without) a few things to get where you want to be? Do you have children that attend school in this district?
To Aaron and anyone else with reservations about voting for Measure C because of lack of oversight, please consider this. No public measure of this type is ever perfect. There will always be mistakes made, that is part of being human. But, we cannot afford your personal reservations to cloud your judgement here. To vote no because of concerns about oversight misses the key issue here. We're talking about roughly $200 a year on average per parcel in property tax. What is the upside? If the money gets spent well, even if only a portion of it gets spent well, everyone benefits, particularly the children of this area but also the areas property values. What could be more important than that? But even more significant is what is the downside to measure c failing? Then it is a guarantee that the quality of the education our children will receive in this area will take a significant hit. Is that worth $200 a year in property taxes that you'll be able to keep in your pocket? Seriously, please think about that, because it is as fundamental an issue as that. It is not complicated at all. Are you willing to contribute $200 a year to provide a significant boost to our school system or is that money more important to you that you are willing to risk a serious an irrevocable negative impact to ouir school system. For residents of the Danville/San Ramon area, I don't see how this is even a tough decision for you. There are no other alternatives here, so please consider your decision carefully. By voting no, if this measure fails, there are no alternate funds for the district to fall back on, there is no time on the calendar to try again later. So suggesting that we can wait until the next measure is on the ballot to see if there is better oversight in the package is really not a choice we have. If measure C fails, it will be too late. Can we really take that risk? $200 a year for crying out loud. If you just take your family out to dinner 3-4 less a year you can come up with that. Walk or ride your bike a little more during the year instead of driving and you can save that in gas money. Go to the library and check out books instead of buying books.
Don't want this to become my own personal blog, but clearly this is a topic that I feel strongly about. So, to Dawn, yes, of course I have children in the district. No doubt I wouldn't feel as passionately about this if I didn't. But, I feel that qualifies me to speak on this topic with deep knowledge of the issue at hand. Both of my children attend Greenbrook Elementary School. I have found it to be an absolutely extraordinary and wonderful school. I couldn't be happier with the education my children are receiving. So, I see first hand the value of living in this community and how that both enriches our families, but also our property values. That is the primary reason why I moved here in the first place was so that I would not have to send my children to private schools and the significant cost of having to do that. That exact issue is why our property values remain high relative to many other areas where they have dropped significantly further. I can understand why families that don't have children in the school systems might be more hesitant to vote yes on Measure C, because they don't get the direct and immediate impact of the funds, but I can assure you that the benefit to everyone is still dramatic. For roughly $200 a year, we can all see our property values, whether you have children or not, remain at high levels. The impact to your property values if you the school system takes a big hit will be so much greater than $200 a year that again, this is a no brainer for everyone. With $500k or $1 million or greater home values, how is it that we can be quibbling over a $200 a year property tax increase? 10 years from now, if measure c fails and what was once a $1 million home is now $500k, having voted against that $200 a year property tax is going to seem awfully foolish and myopic. We all benefit, not just the families with children.
10 schools in our district are in the process of receiving Distinguished School honors from the State of California. An evaluator deemed Charlotte Wood - "Perfect". Well we know nothing is perfect but our schools are some of the very best in the state and we are asking for the smallest amount besides Dublin (talk about property values!). If $144.00 per year to EDUCATION is too much to spend we are in serious trouble as it only reflects 2% of the budget. FYI Piedmont property values have not declined and they have a parcel tax of Two Thousand Eighty two dollars per year which represents approx. 30% of their budget.
Great schools equal higher property values. PS I hope Mike Arata is right and teacher salaries
will increase as they deserve it.
While I respect and considered your input, you oversimplify my issue with the parcel tax issue. It's not that I don't think more money is needed to improve and maintain our schools. My issue is that the Board has failed previously to use the tax and bonds monies to fund the very things promised to voters, and instead funded pet projects and bloated project expenses way beyond the scope of what was originally planned.
For example, Measure A bonds money was, in part, supposed to improve California High School by adding a new quad and library. Between when the voters passed Measure A and when Cal High was improved, the scope increased in size by 40% and the budget for it more than doubled. The Board had the opportunity to keep the project to scale, but it was Bill Clarkson's pet project, and he was not willing to reign in spending. Joan Buchanan constructed an additional $4M parking lot for Monte Vista, even though the Oversight Committee suggested holding off spending on that until other building projects, like science improvements and portable classroom replacements, were completed. The Board didn't take this advice, and the Measure A bond money has since run out.
While I really am glad your children are getting a stellar education at Greenbrook, I don't know that my $200 per year contributes to that in whole or in part. It may, or it may not. The Board lost my trust when it forsook accountability. Until the Board owns up to its it history of poor financial stewardship and puts real safeguards in place, I simply don't know that throwing good money after bad is the answer.
Aaron, I can appreciate what you are saying and you sound like you know what you are talking about. I guess the issue for me is, is it worth the risk of holding onto your $144? I can't stand here and say that some of that money won't get used for pet projects, how could I know that with certainty? But what I do know is that some of it will be directed to the programs our children need most. If the alternative is that numerous teachers will lose their jobs, class sizes will increase significantly and many important programs like art, music and school counselors will be lost, how can we afford not to support this measure? I wish there was an alternative that could ensure those funds would be used 100% for the programs needed most, but unfortunately that option is not available to us. So, we have to choose between the two options we have. Perhaps in a booming economy, when state funds were assured, we could weather the loss of local funding, knowing we had a safety net. But in this economy we are currently facing, with state funds shrinking, I just don't think this is the time to gamble with our school system. I would hope that a $144 a year investment, which is what this is, in our school system would be an investment we are all willing to accept some risk on. Truly, is keeping that $144 in your pocket a better option?
The arguement that school funds were not used exactly as some wanted in the past does not hold water. There will never be 100% agreement on anything! We have a school board in place to run the schools. They have done a very good job. The board determined they need additional funds to continue delivering a high quality educational experience to our children. Selfishly this helps drive up the value of homes in this community. Voting against this small parcel tax has the same effect as not maintaining your property!
How does the following Federal School funding impact SRVUSD?
Neighbors, among e-exchanges in the Alamo region are still asking for a plan for the options facing SRVUSD and how that impacts local management of schools and possible closing of schools?
Are you having any luck gaining disclosure of SRVUSD planning?
Hal, as a community courtesy
Here are a few points worth pondering:
1. All of the Measure C phone banks are being sponsored by Realtors. They clearly understand that good schools impact property values. Arata stated. "...direct Republican affiliations or Republican instincts. ... lend themselves well to true fiscal responsibility...." I would suggest that Republicans check their property values and determine if $144.00 a year is worth maintaining those values.
2. There has been reference to $200.00 in tax increases. It is atually $144.00 and is really only a $54.00 increase to the $90.00 tax we have been paying for the last few years.
3. I am glad that Greg Marvel is supporting Measure C. I am saddened that he sees teachers as the enemy who does not deserve any pay increase. When did good pay for good teachers become something to resign from the board over? No teacher expects a pay increase in this economic climate, but to demonize that as an ultimate goal just helps teachers decide to leave the profession and the state to go where living is less expensive and teachers are valued. Teachers are the biggest expense of a school district because they are the most imortant component. Duh.
4. My three children went to San Ramon Valley schools in the '80's and '90's when the buildings were literally falling down. I remember when new neighbors moved in from other states, they were appalled at our school sites. Because of "pet projects" like Cal High, most of our schools are now both physically and academically reflective of our affluent community. Times are tough, but we need to continue to invest in education if we want our children to have any hope of achieving the kind of success most members of our community, both Republican and Democrat, have achieved.
5. And to Mr. Arata personally: You have been anti-public school and anti-public school teachers for many, many years. You sent your children to private school, which is certainly your right. You picket NEA/CTA meetings which is your privilege as an American. I just don't understand your motivation after all this time. Is the ultimate goal the elimination of public schools, or schools so poorly funded that they become what you already think they are?
6. The only reason this election is really in contention is that your "No" vote, Mr. Arata, counts for two "yes" votes because of the ridiculous 2/3 requirement enacted in the '70's during the "Tax Revolt" of Jarvis-Gann. We need a change at the state level to remove the crippling requirement that has ruined our legislative process. We also need to change the funding formula enacted in the '70s that still determines that our school district is one of the lowest funded in the state because our status in the '70s was considered rural. Almost 40 years of history and growth have been totally disregarded in these archaic legislative processes.
Let's repost Alamo region neighborhoods' request for a PLAN for the Measure C money:
Should we assume that SRVUSD has leadership?
Schools & Kids, posted by Community courtesy, a resident of another community, on Mar 30, 2009 at 6:51 pm
We have little connection to SRVUSD board and management since Joan Buchanan left and we cannot know if we have leadership identified to our goals for our schools. These current board members and administration work for us and we surely do not work for them, so we need to know the realities of their planning including the reduction of school administration.
Transparency, and not a willful action of absolute authority, is required. We should not be confident in a new administration unless they can justify their actions to our community as owners of the San Ramon Valley Unified School DISTRICT.
Let's see the PLAN and the costs before we consider any moneys in their support.
**Commentary by Melissa, Alamo regional counsel committee,Alamo region community of neighborhoods**
Hal, as a community courtesy
While I am in support of Measure C for the greater good of the students in SRVUSD, I do not have faith in the leadership at the district. All of the cuts being made are on the backs of teachers. This isn't right! Our new Superintendent has fulfilled none of the promises he made coming into this district. Understandably, he didn't anticipate budget cuts like Schwarzenegger is delivering. However, wouldn't it be a gesture for him (like other CEO's in this country are doing) to take a cut in his salary to save some teachers jobs?! Also, he speaks of bringing the district into the 21st Century but has done nothing but talk.
Yes .... I agree with you ANONYMOUS ..... i would like to see more cuts at the district level, vs. our beloved teachers who spend the most time with our kids...
not feeling the love from our new superintendent ... he is ineffective, to the point of being detrimental ....
we may need to re-think this one ...
Hmmm... let me get this straight...
Some reasons I've read to vote against measure C:
-The board has squandered the money before
-The board is sneaky in the ways of spending - no transparency
-The teachers don't deserve it
-We're not getting our money's worth, and I'm not paying any more until I'm assured that I'll get my money's worth ($144/year)
Judging from these reasons, I'd expect our school district to be at the bottom of performance ranking. The fact is, our school district is one of the top performing districts. The district has accomplished this in despite of being one of the lowest funded districts in California. While they are not perfect, let's give them some credit. I'm still confused why people are attacking the board for this biggest blow to the budget.
I'm one of those people who moved here because of only one reason - the school performance. I paid premium price for this reason. Much more than $144/year. When it's time to sell your house, I'm sure you'd want the next buyer to pay the same premium.
Come on people. Set aside the petty reasons to vote against this measure, and look at the bigger picture. Success of this measure will likely lead to increase in number of people who would want to move into this safe haven. Worth your money? You bet!
i just need to add from my previous comment .....
i AM voting yes on the parcel tax ....
just very frustrated with the way things are running at the district and needed to VENT!
This message was just received from neighborhoods discussion groups in Dougherty Valley:
Our Iron Horse corridor is engaged in making governments plan and be accountable. Mike Arata or other individuals do not speak for the majority of voters in SRVUSD.
SRVUSD Administration must take a lesson from Alamo and realize what happens when a majority of voters request a plan and budget and none is provided. SRVUSD Board and Administration must realize that a 2/3rd YES vote will be supported by 22,000 voters participating in corridor e-exchanges if they are offered such a plan and budget.
**Commentary by Tim, Dougherty Valley discussion groups, Alliance of Communities**
Hal, as a community courtesy
Many neighbors throughout the Iron Horse corridor are looking for budget and planning study references for SRVUSD Measure C.
Please review: Web Link
Be sure to note the 2008/2009 budget is accessible via this page. If after review there are missing components of a planned use of Measure C parcel taxes, please contact Mr. Terry Koehne, firstname.lastname@example.org. Terry has invited neighbors' inquiries and wishes to meet with groups to insure understanding of Measure C funds usage.
Hal, as a community courtesy
The $144 annual assessment is inconsequential.
It's the ineffectiveness of management and accountability by Management in the District that concerns me. I define 'Management' as all Senior Management staff and the elected officials.
There has been a history of a 'school district' shell game of moving dollars and enrollment projections around to support one position or to downplay another.
"Figures don't lie .... but liars figure".
Two more phrases that would be appropriate here: "If you EXPECT ... you must INSPECT" or as Ronald Reagan said: "Trust ... but verify".
I don't have the feeling there is any oversight of the expenditrues of this district. I was provided one "status" report in the past year or two laying out the various projects. We need to have info that tells us what is being done with funds.
A web site, accessible to the public, laying out the broad information items and budgetary updates would give the STAKEHOLDERS (me and everybody else) an opportunity to judge for ourselves how we are doing.
We have three votes; we are not convinced our funds are being managed well now; how I can recommend approving more to be managed? Haven't been convinced yet.
Karl, you just stated the $144 is inconsequential. I truly understand your concerns and feel they are reasonable, but we need to be realistic here. You may not get the assurances you are looking for in time for the vote. Is this really a risk you are willing to take? You mention a shell game. Some of the comments I've seen here look to me like a game of chicken. Some residents don't feel as if they have been given the level of transparency and accountability they would like and are suggesting they may withhold their vote (or vote No) unless they get it. Let's all be realistic here, we're talking about government and politics. Things just don't move that quickly in the public sector. With the need for a 2/3 majority vote, Measure C is going to need every yes vote it can get to pass. If you approve of the principle of supporting our schools and allowing the SRVUSD to weather the economic storm we are currently facing, how can we afford not to support Measure C? At the risk of repeating myself, the upside of Measure C passing is huge. The downside is catastrophic. For $144 a year, isn't it worth the risk/investment for all of those that can afford to live in this area? There are no other alternatives at this time. I'm willing to offer my personal services/support to further the needs of the community towards greater transparency/accountability in the SRVUSD, but first we need to pass Measure C. Then, we can focus at the task at hand. My full name is listed here. If there is any way I can help, I'm willing to do so, but let's get Measure C passed first.
Just to clarify one comment above, the Upside to Measure C passing, if the funds are well used, would be to save jobs of valuable teachers, keep class sizes small and retain important programs like art, science, etc.. The downside to Measure C passing, if the funds are not overly well used is simply that we are all out $144 a year. Meanwhile, if Measure C fails, as far as I can tell, there is no upside other than having another $144 a year in your pocket, but the downside would be catastrophic. Seems like a pretty simple decision here folks, are you with me?
As distributed to e-exchanges in the SRVUSD:
Dan put it all in FOCUS:
Measure C passing, with the funds well used, would save jobs of valuable teachers, keep class sizes small and retain important programs like art, science, etc..
Measure C passing, with the funds not well used, simply means each residence is out of pocket for $144 per year with only a net increase of $54 more than the current $90 parcel tax (less than $5 per month).
Measure C failing, would bring a costly downside with the end of the current $90 parcel tax and would be catastrophic in loss of teachers, counselors, principals, programs and significant portions of our housing values.
OUR QUESTION: As district owners, are we willing to BET $54 per year that we can make SRVUSD Board and Administration accountable for the success we expect?
Neighbors, you BET we can!!
Hal Bailey, as a community courtesy,
Alamo region community of neighborhoods
Iron horse corridor neighborhoods
The bulk of the opposition to Measure C seems to stem from the lack of faith in the Board's ability to keep its word to the parents and children of the district. In short, the Board is suffering from a "credibility" problem....hmmmm.
Well, let's create a parallel situation here in the form of my fictitious business that has fallen on hard times and needs a bridge loan to get through the tough spots. I walk into the Bank of San Ramon (an equally fictitious bank) and tell the manager of my problem and my desire to have his bank provide me with the necessary funding.
The bank manager, being ever so mindful of his fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders of his institution is adequately sympathetic and tells me he's more than willing to entrust me with the funds of his depositors... if I'd only be willing to fill out the appropriate paperwork and provide him with a business plan showing how I'll spend the $7 million I need.
In response, I gladly fill in all the blanks on his various official forms, sign my name as a trustworthy citizen and then hand him a single sheet of paper with a list of all the good things I "intend" to do with his depositors money, not the least of which will be my intention of having a group of my employees "oversee" my spending (though they have no actual authority to prevent or redirect any of my actions which will undoubtedly include funding their benevolence fund and healthcare)and the bank should feel adequately protected by their honesty and integrity as they will provide the bank with an "audit" of my expenditure annually.
Who here believes that I will walk out of the bank with the $7 million... please raise your hands.... ahhhh... I thought so!
The funny thing is: Almost all districts have passed such measures over the last few years. Even the districts with much less in their pockets on a monthly basis! However, this area DID NOT pass it with all it's wealth and glory. Kind of embarrassing to know Magee Ranch, Blackhawk and Diablo areas did not say "Yes" to the last parcel tax! Most likely one expensive bottle of wine on their dinner tables at night. Kind of makes you sick to be in the middle of it. It does show you what wealth can breed.... Greed! Get off your lazy duffs and vote yes for this measure, at least you can all keep you EGOS sky high right where you like them. Right now, you look like a bunch of losers.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these statements. I am a teacher at San Ramon Valley High School and obviously I am surrounded by Measure C supporters and our conversations reflect the benefits of renewing this parcel tax.
I would like to just comment that the small opposition to Measure C seems to be based on historical problems that certain community members have with the Board and SRVUSD Management. Its disappointing that people allow history to remain a negative influence in their approach to fulfilling their civic duties.
I believe we are at a point, economically and politically speaking, that we must allow a "hope for the future" drive our decisions, particularly about Measure C. If you have an issue about accountability at the district level, then use your civic rights and duties and demand accountability from your elected officials and accept nothing less in return. Something always forgotten in our society is that people control the government, not the other way around. Come together as a community and demand an expenditure list for the Measure C money and don't stop until you get it!
But in the meantime, don't neglect the children of this community by allowing your beefs from some time ago determine their educational success. We must get the money by passing Measure C before we can judge our district management about how they spend it.
This is a good time to get rid of some dead wood. This is only a bail out and they dont want to make the hard decisions. I would vote for a 2 or 3k increase if I felt it would go to good use. My problem is I have my kids in school in another state because I felt the education here was good, but not great. Boarding school is expensive but a so so education will cost the kids in the long run. We may be in one of the top areas for education, but look outside Ca. Nothing to brag about here. There are too many problems in S.R.U.S.D. and poor leadership to get my vote. Its not the money, its what I saw when my kids were at Los Cerros.
A note to Teacherman -
You wrote, "I would like to just comment that the small opposition to Measure C seems to be based on historical problems that certain community members have with the Board and SRVUSD Management. Its disappointing that people allow history to remain a negative influence in their approach to fulfilling their civic duties."
The facts (past defeats of other parcel tax measures) support a LARGE opposition to Measure C.
To paraphrase a famous quote, "Those who do not learn from historical mistakes are doomed to repeat them."
12 a month, 144 a year, is that really too much? come on my tutor fee is 10 bucks an hour. To no-voters, I bet you spend more than $12 a month on snacks, and I don't think junk food is more important than budget of education, even if it might be risky.
maybe their leadership skills are questionable, but when at least SOME will be put into effect...at least SOME classes won't have more than 40 students crowded in one room, at least SOME kids gets music program, at least SOME teachers get to keep their jobs...really, come on, 12 bucks a month...
Steven, the past measure that failed received nearly 64% of the votes, which is extraordinary support, but still did not reach the required 2/3 majority. As we all know, many people that are unfamiliar with a measure and see it as costing them money, just automatically vote no. I would venture that out of the 36% that voted no on the previous election, the majority had no clue what they were voting against. Consider that President Obama's popular vote was roughly 52% which was considered a landslide victory. Just attaining 64% in the previous election was an admirable effort, but unfortunately, not quite enough. The 2/3 majority requirement, which is ludicrous, is still attainable and clearly the effort to pass Measure C is demonstrating the lessons learned from the previous failure, by taking more of a grass roots approach in the community in the effort to get the word out. I try to have some faith in this community as I think it is a wonderful place to live, but it continues to astound me that anyone would refuse to pay $12 a month (or send their kids off to boarding school for that matter) as the poster above puts it in perspective, for the potential benefits of Measure C. What is wrong with you folks? How lost in your values and humanity can you possibly be?
We are not persuaded by the "motherhood & apple pie" arguments that try to appeal to the emotions of voters. It is not "just $12 per month" --- it is several millions of dollars being provided to an organization (School District) that has not demonstrated an effective ability to manage funds.
One commenter ("Teacherman" claimed to be a teacher) said: "Its disappointing that people allow history to remain a negative influence in their approach to fulfilling their civic duties."
Well, in terms of measuring effectiveness of the School District I have two choices:
1. Look at the history of financial management, or
2. Look at the promises of future financial management.
It seems that I have a clearer understanding and view of the PAST than I do of the FUTURE.
As such, without any specific plan over open and transparent oversight, we will say NO this time.
Steven: Given the FACTS of the past Measure C ballot last year that only 36 percent voted NO, that puts you in the "small opposition" category. Unfortunately, we have allowed one person to rule out 2 with the 2/3 voting regulation. Last time I checked, this does not coincide with a fundamental democratic process.
Nevertheless, I believe the quote that you use refers to several historical catastrophes like slavery, the holocaust, and the Fall of Rome. I don't believe funding education on a local level even comes close to such events. It is much easier to hold our local elected officials accountable. Given your statements and the other anti-Measure C statements, its seems even easier to just be negative about it in a weekly blog.
And to Victoria: this district is one of the top in the state. What more do you need to measure effectiveness? Perhaps you should observe and research some districts in the bottom performance tiers of CA. I am sure your perception of SRVUSD would change.
We are very lucky to have such a sound system for our students. If we didn't, how would you explain a history of well above average API scores, consistent Distinguished School Awards, Blue Ribbon Awards, and that 97% of the students who pass through this district go on to college? That seems pretty effective to me, why would we not want to continue funding a district that consistenly outperforms almost every other district in the state?
1. Most negative comments are coming from Alamo
2. SRVUSD was just awarded 10 distinguished school awards
3. Facts like number two increase property values
So Alamo, if you, like myself, have seen your children take advantage of the wonderful schooling that is offed by the SRVUSD, and they are no longer home don't vote for C because it is the right thing to do. Vote for it out of simple self interest in that it will keep property values up in relationship to other similar communities who don't have our schools like Walnut Creek.
Normally I vote for anything Mike Arata is against. And I have no particular beef with the way previous parcel tax $$ has been spent. But nothing I've seen convinces me that SRVUSD needs a 60% increase x 7 yrs. A 60% increase for a couple-three yrs till the economy improves, OK. A small increase for 7 yrs, also OK. But why the big increase for a long period of time? I am sorry to have voted (along with 4 other adults in my family) against the parcel tax, but it's the only way to bring the district planners down to earth.
Oh yeah - that we have "high-ranking" schools is not in and of itself a reason to support higher taxes. A. The rankings are bogus. My kids graduated from MVHS. They did as well as they did b/c we, the parents, pushed them and made up for the schools' deficiencies with time, $$ and when necessary, private tutors, and/or we got lucky and our kids chose to hang out with other high-achieving students who helped keep them on track when parental pressure didn't. I practically ran a home school alongside our regular schools for nearly 15 years. Thinking back to my own experience in Wisconsin public schools, making comparisons to my in-laws' experiences in LaJolla and San Marino, or even considering the performance of kids in Moraga and Orinda, where schools serve similar demographics but take a more serious approach to academics, there is no way our middle and high schools come close. B. There is **no** evidence that class size reduction achieves a better educational result. I was completely unimpressed by my kids' experience in freshman English, but my oldest (who never benefited from the small freshman math classes b/c he skipped math grades) did fine in advanced math and science classes with nearly 40 students in all of them. That's b/c for the most part, the better teachers teach the advanced students and the students in those classes are there to learn. Japanese and Korean students excel in math and science even tho class sizes are enormous. It's not the class size that makes a difference - it's the teacher and the motivation of the students. So if the schools have to increase class sizes, I will not mourn the loss of the smaller classes.
Right on the mark Kathy!
In 2003-2004 the state mean ADA was $5429.00 in unrestricted funds per student.
Multiply that by approx 24 students per classroom = $130,296.00.
Seems like pleanty to me! Where is it going? I have a close friend at Deloitte, and he was the Senior Manager on the Oakland Public Schools Audits in the late 90's, and I can tell you that there is a tremendous amount of Fraud, Abuse, and Waste in all School Districts!Clean up the mess before you ask for more money. I live in the Mt. Diablo dist. and we have a similar parcel tax coming up too. I don't mind giving the equivalent amount to my local school Parent Faculty Club but not one more dollar to perpetuate the School District's Spendthrift Ways!
Here is the detailed budget access for SRVUSD for voters' review:
If you have further questions, please come to Stone Valley School, in Alamo, at 7:30PM, April 16, 2009 and ask the superintendent to provide you answers.
Hal, as a community courtesy
Dave- with your math, breaking down 5429 over 180 school days means a students education must be funded with about $30 per day. Does that really sound like that much to you? In a high school enviornment, with a minimum of 6 classes, that is about $5 per class period.
Where else could you get an education for $5 an hour. That has to pay for teacher salaries, supplies, keeping the lights on, administration, etc.
I am biased, as I am a senior at San Ramon Valley High School.
But please don't try to tell me that schools already have "plenty" of money when my teachers at SRVHS are keeping lights off all day to save money. I only hope my little sister and my kids someday get the same quality education I have gotten with wonderful teachers, great faculty, and in a safe and secure environment.
I can't imagine why someone who doesn't even live in the district (Dave from Walnut Creek) would post here using particularly creative math, making a feeble attempt to make a point. People, please do not be influenced by such lame arguments. All you need is some common sense here. It's a fact that the SRVUSD is fantastic and one of the best in the state. It's a fact that strong school systems have a significant positive impact on our property values. It's a fact that we are currently in one of the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes where state funding will significantly decrease for our schools. It's a fact that if Measure C does not pass, our schools will lose even more funding at the time when we can least afford for that to happen. How is it possible we are even arguing over a $54 increase over the prior $90 annual parcel tax? If you have any common sense at all, I am confident you will see through the flimsy anti-measure C arguments presented here and mail in your ballots this month with a Yes vote.
It's not about the $144, it's about the discipline. Yeah, $144 is a small amount for each family, but multiply that with total # of families in the district, it is NOT SMALL!!! We need to balance the budget based on available fund. If we don't, we will only see this Measure C comes again in a couple of years.
Available funds? The district just got cut 16 million dollars from the state and now the local AVAILABLE FUNDS (parcel tax) is hanging on the passage of Measure C. We don't have the available funds of which you speak? IF Measure C passes, the district will still be operating on limited funds because the state has made funds UNAVAILABLE. It would be like telling the Federal Government to continue supporting the troops in the middle east but slashing the defense budget in half. What would you expect the troops would do or the outcome of the war would be? I think you need to understand what is happening around you Louis. And I hope we do see the Measure C come again again and again. Because if we can't turn to our local communities in an economic crisis to support the excellent education of our children, then who can we turn to? I believe this community has the AVAILABLE FUNDS (144 dollars a year) to support our schools.
Neighborhood Invitation - FOR WEDNESDAY APRIL 15
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Wednesday, April 15, 2009 there will be a Tea Party at the intersection of Hartz Ave. and Diablo Rd. to protest the reckless and irresponsible spending that is going on in our state and Washington D.C. This Tea Party is in support of Tea Parties being held across the U.S. on tax day, April 15.
Everyone is welcome! This is not a liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican protest activity. There is enough blame to go around in D.C. We are truly concerned about the direction or country is going and the future burden we are placing on our children, and rather than feel helpless victims, we need to take action that can make our voices heard as they are supposed to be.
The schedule of events is as follows:
12:00- 2:30 pm Meet at the intersection (sidewalk)
4:00 - 6:00 pm Meet at the intersection (sidewalk)
Put it on your calendar. Please bring your sign. Use your imagination but be sensitive to other protester's feelings!
Please RSVP to email@example.com or (925) 930-9002 indicating how many adults and children you plan to bring. Please just stop by to watch if you want. The more the better. Sign or no sign.
Thanks for the information on the Tea Party event this week. I would suggest that you create a separate thread about it so that it will appear among the topics on the Town Square Forum. Also, you may want to enter it into our online calendar as an event.
Thank you, Geoff!
I have just posted it in the 'Around Town' section.
I just mailed my ballot today. Yes on Measure C!
Lois, the "available funds" include the parcel tax people had no problem with originally. That expires this year, and unless Measure C passes, we will lose all the money being set aside for schools each year from the local parcel tax.
It is not about the money. It Is about principle. How will you explain to your children or grandchildren that you voted against money for their education. This is not about bureaucracy, its not about politics. Schools are out of money, teachers and admin are being fired right and left, my high school is FALLING APART, and we have the ability to tax a little bit for each household to FIX THESE PROBLEMS.
Vote for the future, vote for our kids, consider voting YES on measure C
I am generally inclined to vote for this measure, as I do believe that there is a strong correlation between having this incremental funding and the overall quality of our students education and the overall attractiveness of our communities.
However, I am concerned that definition of what these funds will be spent on is so open ended there is a legitimate argument of potential for misuse. The SRVUSD budget info website (Web Link) does not present a true budget, it only identifies some high level goals, e.g.
• Retaining qualified and experienced teachers
• Preparing students for college and careers
• Prepare students to compete in a global economy
• Maintain strong math, science and literacy programs
While these are all admirable, you could not get funding in any business environment that I am aware of (and I have been responsible for $1 billion annual budgets) without specific and measurable targets.
SRVUSD needs to establish some credible plan here that the audit committee can actually audit against. Saying that we use the money on programs to raise the average college senior SAT verbal score from XXX to YYY by a certain date is a budget goal. Saying that we will prepare students for colleges and careers is an ideal.
If you want my money, set goals that I can use to measure your performance.
Just thought I'd mention that whoever is illegally posting the "No on C" stickers around Danville, such as on mailboxes and street signs, I'm removing every one I can find. I encourage everyone else that sees one of these stickers illegally posted to remove them. You are actually breaking the law in placing them on federal and state property.
And for arguments against from the anonymous people like "SanRamonParent", come on, give it a break. What you keep forgetting is that there is no alternative here. It's as if you live in a fantasy world where you think the election process can just stop and address your issues. That's not the world we live in. If you feel strongly about accountability, which I do as well, then vote yes on C and then work to ensure that accountability occurs. If you vote no because you don't see the accountability you want, you will have placed a dagger in the heart of the SRVUSD that cannot be undone. If we all have the common goal of great schools and great property values in the SRVUSD, then we need a yes vote on C and not to stop there, but then to all work together to ensure the money is spent wisely and all of the tax payers have total transparency to the spending.
I find it interesting to read the comments on both sides in regards to Measure C. I don't support the measure, mostly due to the macro state of our educational system, not as much individually targeted at SRVUSD. It's a principled opinion more than tactical. Do the schools need the money? Given the non-educational programs that money is wasted on, I think not. Cut the crap and keep the good stuff; I guarantee if it were most of yours or my monies, we could make it work as is. And I think a lot of the "Yes" crowd would agree with that statement. I'd also be a proponent of usage based systems, but that's not really my point here.
As a parent of school age children in Danville, I took another route...no I don't use the public schools. Danville has a lot to offer other than the schools, that much we certainly can also all agree on.
The dirty little secret is that the schools here really aren't that good; by that I mean that the actual education offered is not all that superior to most other state schools. I attended K-11 in SRVUSD; like one of the folks above, I'll note that many buildings were physically falling down. Furthermore, the arts programs stunk (not necessarily the fault of those participants/teachers) and the math/science/history/english programs at the high school level were average at best. I was at the top of my class and thought (still do) it was a joke. I attended a "bad" public school in a highly ethnic community my senior year of high school; absolutely hands-down, got a better education that final year than any high school years here in Danville.
So what makes the difference? Why the high college entry rates and test scores? Socio-economics plays a BIG role. Education breeds education. Private tutoring. Expectations. Money. Yes, even cheating. Correlation does not imply causation. Bottomline, you put a mostly upper-income, white crowd together with a lot of success and education behind them, then expect that somehow you'll have low test scores and high dropout rates? Danville is great for homogeny, if that's what you're looking for, but don't try to convince a statistics grad that you've got a case here that the superior schools are the secret sauce.
In the end, I challenge you step back and hear what I say. Your school is not responsible...YOU are. You as a parent should have the most influence on your child; you are responsible for making sure he/she learns what he needs to know, and more importantly learns how to think. If you think that greatness can be bought for $144 more a year, so be it...but don't expect that money invested to perform much better than your recent retirement portfolio.
Bryan, when you are willing to roll your sleeves up and show in real world terms what "crap" programs could be cut from the school budget to balance out the big cuts we keep getting hit with.
I agree that there are areas where srvusd has fallen down on the job but I don't think you can throw it all on them. Their budget is 80% teacher salaries.
I am happy that you have the financial ability to put your children in private school. I do not. And for that reason, we chose Danville as the place to live. We think the education here is good and we feel that our children are worth paying an extra few dollars a month.
You're taking a principled vs tactical stance? That's very easy to do when it doesn't affect you. Since it very directly affects my children's future, I have a very different perspective.
Well put "School Supporter"! And quite frankly, Bryan's personal experience with the SRVUSD clearly is not typical, considering the recognition and test scores of the SRVUSD, which have nothing to do with college entry rates. I personally come from a family of educators. My dad had the highest degree in the legal profession and taught law at UC Davis for over 30 years. My mother has an Masters in Psychology and taught French at the high school level early in her career. My brother has a Masters in Gifted Education and teaches elementary school in Sacramento. I grew up in Davis California, where the public schools are some of the state's best. The education my children are receiving at Greenbrook elementary in Danville is exceptional in my qualified opinion. The teachers are wonderful and the overall package of programs and facilities is far better than I expected even though I moved to Danville primarily for its public schools. So, I'm sorry that Bryan's SRVUSD experience was not a good one, but I know for a fact that was not typical of what the SRVUSD is providing every day to thousands of children, including my own.
Ultimately, if you think that paying $144 a year is not going to contribute to improving the schools, at a time when school funding is getting cut significantly, then you are living in a fantasy world. Perhaps those funds are not allocated at the level of transparency and accountability that you are satisfied with, but there can be no valid argument that would suggest those funds will not significantly improve the education our children will receive in the years to come when you compare that side by side with the alternative. There is no creative math, whether you graduated at the top of your class or not, that can honestly demonstrate how the economics of Measure C could be bad for anyone.
Hi School Supporter-
I'll respond to your comments.
First as to your ad hominem attack on me. I can't afford private school; it kind of makes me chuckle to be accused of not rolling up my sleeves. I accomplish my children's schooling with much sacrifice; my wife and I homeschool three children every day. Most people who homeschool are VERY serious about education.
With that said, as to the substance of your response...I encourage you to reference Cathy's post on 4/9. A different perspective than mine but in essence saying much of the same things; she really nails a lot of things. Someday, my family will likely be in her shoes.
There's a lot of emotion in this topic which leads to a slippery slope of logic. You can choose to listen to what I've experienced (as well as others) or not. You can attack me and/or accept the extra $144; neither of which will accomplish much of anything.
Money is not the heart of the problem. Keep focusing there and I guarantee you'll be no further 5 years down the road.
My daughter is a senior at SRVHS so I do not stand to personally benefit from the passage of measure C. Or do I? If I intend to remain in Danville (and I do)I benefit from smaller class size and better educated students - that they will receive a better education means there is a greater chance they will contribute to the community in positive (arts, sports, etc.) ways rather than negative (vandalism, crime). As a bonus, with a Yes vote on C, I get the pleasure of once again voting in opposition to a vote cast by Mr. Arata. I'll sleep better just based on that happy fact.
Will I keep my $144.00 in my pocket because I am not 100% positive that every penny will go toward my own version of a better curriculum - nope. I refuse to gamble with the education of the children in the community I live in.
Removed another half dozen no on C stickers posted near the intersection of Sycamore Valley Road and Camino ramon on street signs. If the police are reading this, please be on the lookout for the classless people that are doing this act of posting stickers on public property. As I said before, I encourage anyone that sees a No on C (or Yes on C for that matter) sticker on public property to remove them. It is flat out illegal. Sad/telling that nobody is willing to post a No on C sign on their private property, but many have the Yes on C sign. Tells you something right there.
Schools are as good as you make them. If you value education in your family and encourage your student to seek out the positive aspects of school you will benefit. So you are absolutely right, the parents ARE responsible. As a teacher, I can probably guess just what kind of student you were. Too smart for teachers. Too busy to be sitting in class. Not feeling challenged enough by your teachers. I don't assume to label you, however, your comments lend to the idea that school was a waste of time for you. That, to me, is unfortunate because, I KNOW that SRVUSD has more opportunities offered to their students than most schools in the bay area and surely California as a whole.
So here is my dirty little secret...As someone who has taught in other multi-ethnic school districts, SRVUSD actually IS that good. Shhh...don't tell anyone because everybody already knows it and as a community we need to support it despite your personal self-inflicted academic experiences in the district!
An Ad Hominem attack? I asked you to provide what "crap programs" there are that are wasting your dollars. Rather than provide that you chose to play the injured party.
You homeschool your children. Bravo. That takes time and effort which I do respect. However, it gives you absolutely zero knowledge or understanding of what happens in a public school classroom. Or of any programs that district does or does not provide. In order to live in this area my wife and I both have to work so homeschooling is not an option.
As for your unfortunate high school years...well unless you had your children at a very young age, you would have been in high school 8 -10 years ago. I was not here then but I know there were quite a few funding and programming problems in the district then that the current board has worked hard to fix. I have children in elementary, middle and high school and I see the work they are doing.
By the way I did reference Cathy's post and didn't see much in there besides her argument about class sizes making a difference. If that were the only thing these funds would go towards then maybe I could see the point but I want my children to have librarians, science teachers and counselors as well.
This is an excellent school district with dedicated teachers and strong academics. Is it perfect? No. Does the school board make mistakes? Absolutely. But this funding shortfall is not of their making. It is constant cutbacks by the state, coupled with falling property values and loss of revenue.
I think pride gets in the way of clear thought here. Above I'm assumed to have "self-inflicted academic experiences". I'm told to not be "considering the recognition and test scores of the SRVUSD". I'm told that "I can probably guess just what kind of student you were". I'm told that I have "absolutely zero knowledge or understanding of what happens in a public school classroom".
Why I reply, I don't know. Probably because I do care, and it's not about me. And so you I understand that, I offer that I was in no way a misfit, academically or socially. I liked most of my teachers and vice-versa. I had very good teachers and I had very bad teachers and everywhere in between. I played sports and was well respected by my peers. Really, none of the above assumptions are on the money.
With that, I offer that there's plenty of reading for those who want to know what could be changed; for this forum, I choose to offer personal experience of a broken system rather than go there. I assert to you that for two years I had a history teacher at SRVUSD who taught by having students read the textbook aloud. I assert to you that the math program was not very strong and that I would have never passed the AP Calculus exam had I not moved schools. I was taught how to harness "white" magic many Fridays as a break from English class. I watched as a high percentage of students were habitually cheating and I'm sure still are. I saw more drug and alcohol abuse here than anyone would care to admit, far more than at my other "inferior" school. I experienced and listen to those whose children are taught an ideology contrary to their own with no option to opt out. I agree with Cathy that "we, the parents, pushed them and made up for the schools' deficiencies". I listen to parents who tell of a system that pridefully assumes it knows what's best for their child and empathize with those who try to fight it. I talk to people about schools constantly and listen to their satisfactions and frustrations. I listen to parents who get poor teachers and can't do anything about it.
Have some of these things changed? Of course. Are the same teachers there? In most cases, no. Is this all specific to the SRVUSD? No, again, of course not. I started by saying that this is as much about the macro as it is the micro. But here there's that pride factor; there's the assumption here that everything here is good, that we are superior. I'm stating that if you're to use the public school system, EVEN the SRVUSD, you should be prepared to keep your eyes wide open; if nothing else, that much I hope somebody will "get". I sympathize with those parents who are staring at teacher, librarian, and other cuts that no doubt target many who shouldn't be targeted. But in the end, I'm still voting no on C, the $144 is not the solution or the problem.
I keep having my comments erased. I'm sorry my opinions are too real for people to take. Your censorship won't stop me. I went to los cerros and monte vista. I'm 27 and I think 75% of the teachers were total losers. I remember my math teacher used to flirt with the 8th grade girls and hide behind the projector screen like a 4 year old. We don't need more money. We need less teachers. When my parents went to school, there were fifty to ninety kids per class, and they learned more. Why? Because everyone shut up and listened. We need discipline in the class. One way to break down discipline is to amp the kids up on sugar. We should not have candy and sodas sold in schools. The teachers unions fought getting rid of jumk food in schools because they want to tax it to give the money "to the schools," ie: to them. They don't give a damn about the kids. Their demands for smaller class sizes is because that means we have to hire more teachers. By the way, we already have plenty of money being sucked from our property taxes to go to our schools. The problem is, we don't spend it on our kids. We send it to Oakland and Richmond, on bilingual education for illegal immigrants and group home kids who murder our children (Rylan Fuchs.) No doubt, 90% of the extra money that they wish to take from us through prop C will within a few years be allotted to other schools.
I have lived and taught in Danville for over 30 years...I love the community and the schools.
The problems is "us," the parents; and the burdens that the state and fed. government put on the schools without providing adequate funding...most of which take away from programs and teaching time, and put excessive burdens on already exhausted teachers.
Parents (and I include myself) need to take the cell phones, video games, TV and computers out of the kids rooms and actually monitor their kids and make sure they are doing their work. I know for a fact that kids are texting into the early mornings (1, 2, 3 am) and are being distracted by things like Facebook, etc.
If your kids are not learning it is because they are not focusing on what is important. In spite of all these distractions, the teachers are still managing to educate our kids.
Support our schools and our kids, they deserve it.
If you talk about illegal campaigning, let's talk about campaigning on school property for the passage of Measure C. The teachers union has the teachers using school facilities and school resources to campaign for measure C. Also, using School Loop to email to the kids to convince their parents to vote for measure C, or using email lists from school registration rolls. All of that is illegal but instead you complain about a sticker on a sign? How about using funds from the Music or Academic Boosters use to campaign for measure C. Do the parents know that their contribution to their own schools are being used in this way? Pot calling the kettle black.
Dave in San Ramon. Your statement about funds meant for Music being used to fund measure C is so out of line. I happen to be quite involved in two local school PTA groups, and NOTHING of the sort has ever been done. School Loop has NEVER been used in our schools for such things. What school do your kids attend so it can be looked into? Follow up with details please, not just ramble.
Measure C passed!!!!! Thanks to everyone that supported it for doing your part. Now it is up to all of us to continue to support the schools and work to ensure those funds are used wisely.
VICTORY!!!! Thank you for doing what is right!
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