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The ABCs of Measure C

Original post made on Apr 24, 2009

Voters living in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District have a decision to make regarding the future of their schools. More than 80,000 ballots have been delivered to homes in the district, asking voters whether they would be willing to increase their property taxes in order to maintain the dollars being put toward school funding in the face of large-scale budget cuts by the state.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 24, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (7)

Posted by Hal Bailey, a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Apr 24, 2009 at 7:13 am

Dear Geoff,

Some additional information for your excellent article.

First, parcel tax measures in SRVUSD date back to the early 1990's. You might seek Kathy Chiverton's (now at SRV YMCA) commentary on those parcel tax measures.

Proposition 13 is still a highly supported safeguard for homeowners against politics of taxation that is still prevalent in California. In many parcel tax campaigns in SRVUSD, most leaders were very aware that negative comments about Proposition 13 created a negative response to their campaign. A 2/3rds vote is a safeguard very specifically needed to control the politics of taxation.

The low wealth district status for SRVUSD was challenged during the late 1990's and Assembly Member Joan Buchanan can provide commentary on efforts to change that status. Also, Chris Kenber, former SRVUSD Board Member, would be a good source of commentary on such low wealth status.

Most importantly, SRVUSD and Measure C campaign leaders deserve applause for the transparency of budgetary information found on the SRVUSD website. In Alamo region neighborhoods, voters are noting that our best ability to continue our ownership of SRVUSD and manage its operations is to be significant in its funding. District residents achieve oversight and transparency by continuing parcel tax for facilities and classroom operations.

Thank you for your informative article, Geoff,

Hal


Posted by Rick, a resident of Danville
on Apr 28, 2009 at 6:08 pm

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.


Posted by Teacherman, a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Apr 29, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Rick

I have read your comments on both forums. Son, you need to find some balance. Your anger and frustration is disheartening. Despite your bad experiences in high school, you are 1 out of 14,000 students who pass through this district every year.

Your argument is clearly personal and if you do plan to get involved with the local political scene (as you have blatantly warned us about) may I suggest some important lessons before you decide to enter the ring:

1. You are young and energetic. You need to sit and contemplate. Pare down your arguments.

2. Be constructive, not destructive. You are merely a child in the playground. Learn to play well with others.

3. Forgive yourself and others for yesterday. You only need to look forward.

4. When in the political arena, if your platform is personal feelings, then it will hurt more when it is kicked out from underneath you. And it will get kicked out from underneath you.

5. People won't listen to a complainer. Rise above the rest of them and turn people's heads because you have something to add, not condemn.

Good luck to you!


Posted by Maxwell, a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Apr 29, 2009 at 6:08 pm

I like this article. I am a senior at San Ramon Valley High School. The teachers here have given me so much. I have gone above and beyond book knowledge to true understanding and desire to learn. The teachers here have allowed me to grow and learn at my own pace, while pushing me to do well on everything. My history teachers have made the subject come alive in the classroom, relating historical events to life application as well as comparative lessons to how past historical moments affect who we are as a society today.

My math teacher this year (a wonderful person) has brought the subject alive in a way I have never experiened before. She has made it easy and fun to do well in the class.

My english teachers have always supported my enthusiasm for writing and language, always pushing me to break old habits and learn better ways of writing and interpreting readings.


Overall, I am very happy for the teachers that I have had. There have been a few who I could have done without, but trust me, there are a few bad eggs in every basket. Just because the system isn't perfect doesn't mean we should be cutting majorly needed funding for the rest of the staff and teachers who are making schools like mine a safe, secure, and nurturing enviornment for students to spend time, grow, learn, and have fun doing it.




God Bless,
Consider voting Yes on C.
Maxwell


Posted by Rick, a resident of Danville
on Apr 30, 2009 at 12:13 am

Teacherman, I'm not the only one of 14000 students who feel this way, as you baselessly claim. As the pollsters say, every person whose passionate enough to speak up is usually speaking for a thousand. In case you haven't noticed, there are others who feel similarly. If there's one thing I can't stand, is broad nonsensical comments like "we need to look forward." who's not looking forward? I just don't like the forward you're suggesting. I'm suggesting a better future. Rational thinkers look to the past to analyze patterns and thus discern the potential future outcomes. I'm sorry I have an opinion. If that makes me a complainer in your mind, I guess you just don't like opinions that diverge with yours. Playing well with others doesn't meaning following an inept system. What I don't understand about people like you is that I provided plenty of constructive criticism. Let me refresh your memory.

There are a lot of good teachers out there that deserve to be paid more, twice as much even, each at the expense of 3 or 4 bad ones who should be purged. We need more physical education. Kids should not be sitting inside florescent-lit rooms for hours on end. They could learn just as much in half the time if they blew out their bodies with athleticism, ate proper and came back into the class fully engaged with teachers who knew how to engage them.

You, like many teachers I know, lack the diligence to truly study your opponents comments. You gloss over them and then pedantically refer to me as "son" while you try and pretend this is a personal vendetta. My personal experiences merely give credence to the ineptitude of our school system. I have plenty of facts outside my own testimonials to prove the fact that our school system requires no more money, but rather proper administration and teaching. Also, this state would not have a fiscal crisis in the first place if libs like you would stop endorsing benefits for illegal immigrants, such as healthcare, education and imprisoning illegal immigrant criminals, which costs the state 30 billion dollars annually. Are you ready to get behind this state and nationwide movement, to end benefits for illegal immigrants? Remember, it's the state's fiscal crisis which you used to justify prop C in the first place.

Good luck to you too


Posted by Teacherman, a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:36 am

Rick

I will not be continuing a debate on our views since 1. I haven't expressed any of my political, moral, or ethical views for you to judge and 2. None of it has to do with Measure C.

Nevertheless, I just gave you a bit of advice as you pursue your political ambitions and as a result you have labeled me a liberal and endorser of illegal immigration which has never a part of any blog that I have entered.

So again, Son, before you begin your political endeavors, I recommend that you ease your pain, tame your anger, and speak and write intelligently. It seems you have already pushed Mr. Arata, the guru of your mission, out of your territory with your ill remarks regarding Churchill.

You will receive no respect, no sympathy, and no ears if you continue to vocalize your valid points in such a negative, vindictive manner.


Posted by Objective Viewpoint, a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Geoff,
I do want to commend you on having written one of the better constructed articles on Measure C, although a bit more balance from ballot measure opponents would have been nice since it looks like this was meant to be a journalistic cover story rather than an editorial.

I've personally researched a lot of financial information for a lot of years about the district and evaluated Measure C thoroughly and in the interest of disclosure have made up my mind to vote NO on Measure C and have offered some commentary on the other comment string active in the Danville Weekly on Measure C.

Having said that, I do want to correct some statements which have been attributed to SRVUSD spokesman Terry Koehne in your article.

First, Prop 13 has not held back K-12 school spending growth in the state with spending climbing from $9.6 Billion in 1984 (earliest data available) to $38.5 Billion in 2009, and that doesn't even count the plethora of local tax initiatives passed such as Measure C so Koehne's argument about a decline in education spending is absurdly false on its face and anyone can check the numbers themselves at the LAO website Web Link

Second, when Koehne implies that Prop 13 is responsible for the "low-wealth" funding status of SRVUSD, he is again grossly factually wrong since the initiation of the state's involvement in local school funding and the establishment of state's revenue limit funding to school districts was the result of legal action initiated and settled well before the 1978 passage of Prop 13. In fact, it was the 1968 "Serrano vs. Priest" lawsuit in which the State Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that California's education funding method was unconstitutional which led the Legislature to enact in the same year the new revenue limit funding method and the related "low wealth" status of SRVUSD effectively disconnecting property taxes from actual state spending on education. Now I do agree that the "low wealth" status of SRVUSD needs to be addressed through funding equalization legislation, but to hang the blame on Prop 13 which came 6 years after "Serrano vs. Priest" just proves that it's the education lobby's favorite bogeyman.

Another key fact that needs to be mentioned is that when the district had the 2008 Measure D parcel tax on the ballot that failed, they granted a new RETROACTIVE pay increase, above and beyond regular annual tenure and COLA increases, just one month BEFORE the results were known, committing another $4 million in spedning annually which coincidentally, or not, was the intended additional tax take annually from Measure D. Then, for Measure C, they decided to conveniently skip the 11/2008 election which could have saved a substantial amount of money. These are just a couple of quick examples of why SRVUSD's fiscal mismanagement shouldn't be rewarded with passage of Measure C.

Also, the supposed "accountability" measures are flawed since first, the SRVUSD board will stack the "oversight committee" with fellow travelers which I've witnessed in their selection of Facilities Advisory Committee members and with their recent school board appointment who came from the FAC. Second, the "audits" are only required if they don't spend the parcel tax money and who thinks that will happen? Third, who can credibly believe that you get more "accountability" and "transparancy" by making sanctioned spending less defined by going "broad spectrum" with the language? SRVUSD has only one priority and that is to lavish parcel tax proceeds on the union on unearned retroactive raises and that will not change without major overhaul.

As I mentioned in my other posts, SRVUSD has not even attempted to
negotiate any union concessions and in fact board members have publically ruled them out categorically. Only the defeat of Measure C will get them and the union to look at the financial situation realistically to save jobs because anything less will leave them always trying to take the easy way out by imposing a greater burden on taxpayers.

Lastly, the only people spreading misinformation about Measure C is SRVUSD and the only hole they intend to fill is their political debt to the union.

Thanks for the opportunity to shed more light on this subject and to urge voters to vote NO on Measure C.



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