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'It's not going to be fine,' says school superintendent

Original post made on Mar 10, 2010

Speakers sympathized with the school board tonight even as it voted to raise class sizes to 28, and eliminate some high school counselors and other positions to lay off a total of 136.45 fulltime employees as well as two administrators and two assistant principals.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 9, 2010, 10:56 PM

Comments (23)

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Posted by CDSI Research
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 10, 2010 at 7:02 am

Dear Dolores,

In a too-savvy community of educated and experienced professionals it is easy to understand the appreciation of Steve Enoch's efforts to be very public and factual in presentation of SRVUSD planning and budgeting in an on-going fiscal crisis. As a result, such community is invited to participate in the remedies of the problems through various funding measures, donations and volunteering.

By contrast, we have SRV YMCA in deep fiscal crisis and without any accounting of community donations and support. With Terry Koehne, SRVUSD community relations on the SRV YMCA Board, we might ask for his public fulfillment of such information or assistance to Ms. Fran Gallati, acting President, MDR YMCA, in public presentation of such information.

This need becomes especially important when we consider that SRV YMCA is located on SRVUSD campuses and fiscal issues are already apparent in Y services.

Terry and you need to talk!!

Hal/CDSI


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Posted by Bud
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 10, 2010 at 9:42 am

It shouldn't impact the teachers or students if we increase the class size. When I was a student in High School, there were many classes where the number of students was in excess of 30. We need to hold both the students and teachers accountable what is taught and what is learned. There has to be some personal accountability.


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Posted by Bella S.
a resident of Danville
on Mar 10, 2010 at 9:58 am

One furlough day represents $750,000 in savings. Please encourage the teachers' union to do the right thing and vote to accept as many furlough days as possible. In the private sector, we already had to accept the reality of the new economy--the teachers and their union must do the same.


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Posted by Aaron
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 10, 2010 at 10:04 am

Bud, you need to think much further back than high school to understand the incredible impact of the increase in class size on our students. There's a huge difference between 28 6 year-olds in a room with one teacher, versus 30 independent 16 year-olds gathered together for a history class with one teacher. Just getting 28 6 year-olds in the door, jackets off, backpacks put away, and seated at their desks can be a 15 minute project - precious time wasted for lack of manpower. These tiny children need guidance at every step once through that classroom door - time and labor intensive stuff that we take for granted with older children. These cuts are going to have a measurable impact on our teachers and students that shouldn't be underestimated.


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Posted by Jimmy H.
a resident of Danville
on Mar 10, 2010 at 10:10 am

Perhaps we should explore ways to eliminate the need for a teachers' union. Businesses in the private sector have found greater efficiencies when they were able to become unshackled from their unions by giving their employees a stake and by treating the employees with respect and dignity. This would go a long way towards making the union irrelevent, and those in charge would have more of a free hand to reward good performance and to get rid of the weeds.


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Posted by Ben M.
a resident of Danville
on Mar 10, 2010 at 10:59 am

Dolores,

You missed the point of Gayle Larson's comments to the board. What she was stating was that the teachers should not bear the full brunt of the district cuts when it came to furlough days. Rather, she was advocating a mixture of furlough days for teacher AND for students. The former would not be felt by the community whatsoever because the district would be taking away teacher work days that the students already have off, but all teachers would still be required to complete their work. For example, at the end of each term, there is a teacher work day for all the final grading to be completed and for term grades to be submitted. If these days were changed to furlough days, the result would be that teachers would still need to complete this work without pay.

Instead, Ms. Larson was suggesting that the district implement a balanced approach of furlough days for students as well as for teachers. This would be an inconvenience for parents who might have to make arrangements for daycare, but as she commented at the board meeting, its only fair for all stakeholders - teachers and parents to bear the brunt of this fiscal mess.

In addition (and perhaps more importantly), this might motivate parents (read: voters) to apply pressure on the elected officials in Sacramento who have caused this mess in the first place.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 10, 2010 at 11:45 am

Why doesn't the District Office take a few furlough days?? Has anyone ever thought about that?? I can guarantee that the schools can run just fine without the DO being open a day or two or three for that matter.


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Posted by leaving asap
a resident of Danville
on Mar 10, 2010 at 11:55 am

They should have started the furlough days last year and made cuts. My employer did that almost 16 months ago, sales are down 40%, we made the cuts and everybody is back to full pay and we are making money. Had to let some people go but staying in bussiness is not easy and someone at S.R.V.U.S.D. has been avoiding doing this for a long time. I dont feel sorry for them when they are soooooo slow to react. 80% plus just covers payroll, no wonder they are out of money. You people have the wool pulled over your eyes. These schools are not as great as locals make them out to be. Get out of your CA. bubble and what you are getting is a ride. The unions are your biggest problem.


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Posted by East Side Neighbor
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 10, 2010 at 1:43 pm

"leaving asap" makes comments based upon a lack of knowledge about what the district has done and what alternative measures have been taken for several years. Please let the readers know what we can to do make "asap" even sooner


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Posted by mark
a resident of Danville
on Mar 11, 2010 at 9:03 am

I find this interesting in a community where we value education and strive for excellence, we want the school to do more with less?
Maybe we should look at the excessive number of employees at the district Office. How many supervisors do we really need.
Money should be going to education and police departments.
500 students for ONE counselor? COME ON . WE KNOW BETTER.
do we not want a future for our children?


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Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on Mar 11, 2010 at 10:54 am

I missed the meeting due to a work engagement, but really appreciate the comments made by Tom Moore and Gayle Larsen. As hard as this is, I'm sure the district doesn't like it either.

Was there a sense given at the meeting what "other positions" as referenced in the article are facing cuts? I'm hoping sports and performing arts programs will be spared - though my kids don't participate they seem to fill a major need (and my kids and I really enjoy the SRVHS theater productions as well as football season).

Looks like I'll need to use more of my furlough days from work to help out more with the schools - something good coming from my own salary reduction!


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Posted by L.C.
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Mar 11, 2010 at 3:38 pm

There are already 500 students for each counselor at our high schools. After this round of cuts there will be 750 students for each counselor. Unconscionable.


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Posted by mark
a resident of Danville
on Mar 12, 2010 at 8:45 am

This is how you want us to come out of school with a feeling that everyone is out for themselves and I guess my education doesn't mean as much as the supervisors that cut my counselors and now with 500 to 750 students per counselor, I'm sure that all of these students will be given the same guidence you Supervisors where given when you went to school.
Why do you not think my education and guidence from counselors at school are not important to my growth? It feels like you all are writing us " the students" off and then you wonder why we look at politics in a way that you don't understand. SCHOOL IS IMPORTANT STOP CUTTING US OUT. PUT MONEY IN TO THE FUTURE.....


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Posted by Dawn
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 12, 2010 at 9:35 am

From the article:

"...lay off a total of 136.45..."

So who's the point-four-five??


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Posted by ken
a resident of Danville
on Mar 12, 2010 at 9:38 am

What everyone has to realize is this is the faoult of our state legeslators who continually overspend. It is not the school board's fault as they are only provided what the state allocates for funding.
If we contiue to elect the same people to the state assembly and senate, we will only continue this spiral. Please do not vote for any incumbents this fall, if we re-elect them we only get what we deserve.


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Posted by Alamoan
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 12, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Ken is right, the board is in a tough spot. They have to work with the money their are given. They really don't have much choice other than to make cuts to personnel or their salaries. That said, the board should not be proposing any new expense in their proposed budget either. I'm not sure if this has changed, but the shortfall claimed the Superintendent earlier in the year included new programs he wants to implement, not just a "shortfall" this year's budget. It makes no sense to claim a "shortfall" based on things not even in the current budget. We shouldn't be implementing new programs paid for by laying off teachers, cutting counselors, cutting sports/art/music, etc.

Also I'm surprised though how many people seem to have no problem with cutting counselors, reducing class room hours, increasing class size, etc. Time and time again there is has been shown that smaller class sizes result in a better quality education, particularly for certain ages and classes. Even people without children or grandchildren should be very concerned. Home values are directly linked to the quality of schools, a fact people sometimes ignore.

As for furlough days, I think some will be necessary, but I understand the resistance. These don't just affect a teacher's annual earnings, but also their pensions. So, not only is their current income in the poor economy affected, but also their future income. Additionally, it won't really result in less work for them. These will undoubtedly fall on the so called "Teacher Work Days". The prep they do on those days will still have to be done.


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Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Mar 12, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Alamoan: Issue is not that people "have no problem" with increasing class size, but rather given the financial restraints, people realize increasing class size is the best of all the bad options...Would it be better to have 20 or 15 students in a class, of course...If the issue is cutting sport programs, reducing amount of class days, or adding a few kids to each class, the best option is adding class size...Home values are affected by quality of schools, but the problems our district faces are not unique in California, and all districts are having problems...In fact, it would appear that our district is probably in a better situation than most districts, so school issues will not affect our home values, as other districts are suffering as bad or worse...Finally, quite frankly, except for the teachers union, nobody is supporting funding teacher pensions, as no other profession has pensions anymore, so union better get realistic fast...


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Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Mar 12, 2010 at 2:14 pm

We need to prepare for even more dramatic school funding cuts. CALPERS made some very bad financial bets and is billions in the red. Sacramento is going to have to pay for that somehow. Education is the state's biggest expenditure. More cuts are inevitable.

Californians have been living off the rich to pay the bills and now that golden goose is gone, at least for awhile. The wealthy top 1% have been paying 50% of California's income tax. But the dramatic drop in the stock market last year enabled the rich to rack up huge capital losses that they can use to shelter their capital gains for years to come. Thus, even if California raises the income tax rate on the wealthy, it won't generate the kind of tax revenue California needs.


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Posted by Alamoan
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm

American - the second post stated "It shouldn't impact the teachers or students if we increase the class size." Clearly some people see no problem increasing class sizes. Fact is it does impact both teachers and students. Obviously cuts need to be made somewhere, and perhaps class size is the best way to do that, but a lot of people are going to wonder what happened with the parcel tax we recently passed. Thought that parcel tax isn't directly tied to class size reduction, it was sold as way to keep class sizes small. Many people won't draw the distinction. As for teacher pensions, what do you propose? Switching them to 401k's (that still has to be funded, or do you propose taking that out of teacher's existing salaries which are already small)? Not funding teacher retire at all? I know of no teachers getting rich off of their pensions or salaries, these aren't Fire Chiefs. Most professions have some sort of retirement plan and most professions requiring a college degree have better take home pay than teachers even after deducting for 401K, normalizing for the 2 months teachers don't work in the summer, etc.


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Posted by katie
a resident of Danville
on Mar 14, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Alamoan,
California teachers most definitely are getting rich off their high 3, 90% calpers retirements. They've got a deal that is much, much better than anyone in the private sector at the same rank and file level. That's why they are fighting cutbacks so vehemently. No teacher in California deserves to make $75k-$85k for working just over half a year.


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Posted by Ashley
a resident of Diablo Vista Middle School
on Mar 15, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Right on Katie! Alamoan needs to realize there was once a time and place for teacher unions, but no more. 401k plans work for everyone else so why should teachers be any different. Their salaries amaze me when they only work a total of 40 hours a week if they actually stay until school closes at 4:00 and only work about 8-9 months of the year when you add in all of the holidays and vacation. Many of them also get amazingly expensive Christmas and year-end gifts from their class, so I am not shedding any tears if the class size needs to go up and they need to work a little harder.


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Posted by District Teacher
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Mar 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm

The teacher's pension is called CalSTRS not CalPERS.


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Posted by leaving asap
a resident of Danville
on Mar 17, 2010 at 8:18 am

east side neighbor - I guess being PTA President at two different schools over the years makes me lack knowledge. Trouble is you dont know the facts or anything about what could have been done with more planning. I am willing to bet that I have been more involved with SRVUSD in one year than you an entire life time.


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