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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Challenging night ahead for school trustees

Uploaded: Sep 9, 2014

It likely will be a tough night for the Pleasanton school trustees this evening when they discuss whether to reverse their earlier decision to establish a new school calendar.
Some vocal parents have been bellowing about the board decision since the "modified lite" calendar was adopted in June. The adoption followed more than a year of outreach, including a parent survey, to encourage the community share its opinions. The complaint that people were unaware speaks to their ignorance, not to the district's outreach efforts.
The new calendar, scheduled to go into effect in August 2015 pending tonight's decision, has school starting in early August, a one-week break in October, two weeks at the holidays after the conclusion of the first semester, a one-week spring break and a nine-week summer vacation after school ends around June 1. For next year, the board already has directed negotiations with bargaining units to start Aug. 11 and eliminate the October break.
Change is rarely easy for anyone, but adjusting school calendars is way overdue. The board and staff leadership deserve credit for stepping up and tackling the issue. The one-year adjustment is an OK compromise, but the trustees should stick to their guns—their job is the best calendar to educate kids. Yes, they want parental support, but their job is not to make all parents happy. Once a new calendar gets established, then all of the peripheral activities (youth sports, etc.) will adjust accordingly.
And while leadership is taking a hard look, they should consider adjusting starting times to take into account research that shows the earliest appropriate starting time for teen-agers is 8:30 a.m. it is long past time to start school at the time that is best for students, not what is convenient for adults.

Congratulations are due to both the leadership and the donors of Pleasanton Partnerships in Education, which raised $330,000 during the registration period at Pleasanton schools.
That impressive total speaks to the high value that residents put upon quality schools and was up $55,000 from last year. The addition of an online giving portal likely helped by making it more convenient to give.

A salute also is due to Judy and Fred Porta who are giving $500,000 to the Las Positas College Foundation to support the early childhood education for children of students and staff at the Livermore campus. A new childcare center, which offers hands-on training for the college's well-established program, was part of the major campus expansion over the last several years.
The gift will be used for the new 2GenFund that will provide scholarships for toddler and pre-school age children of students.
Judy Porta taught at Las Positas for 20 years until retiring in 1996, while Fred was an architectural engineer. In 1965, they were one of five couples who founded the Diablo Valley Montessori School.

Local Journalism.
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Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown,
on Sep 12, 2014 at 7:14 am

Tim, be careful what you ask for?
With this group, getting the start times to 8:30 would probably mean they would add a 55 minute Brunch for no good reason whatsoever. They would send out a 5 option questionnaire as to the preferred length of lunch that would include options for Two minutes, Five minutes, and 90 minutes. They would notify the public by posting it somewhere on their wildly dysfunctional website. They would try to put it on the Consent Calendar. On the night of the vote, the Superintendent would inform the Trustees that in order to vote on the 8:30 start time issue, it also has to be coupled with the Wednesday Off package because that is what has been agreed to with the Union. Bowser would exclaim, "Yippee, we get to change something! Now can we get more money?" Laursen would say, "Parvin wants it, it must me awesome?" Grant would blow off the meeting, but raise his hand and vote for it anyway. Hintzke would say "What???" but then vote for it anyway? And Arkin would mutter "Are you kidding me?" and since she can count to 4, she would dissent.
The dust would settle and then you would have the Pleasanton Schools with their brand new 8:30 start time which would include The 55 minute Brunch, Wednesdays off, and a dismissal time of 6:25 pm. Asked about sports teams and other extracurriculars they answer back, "We're Pleasanton, we always figure it out."
Then a local columnist, who doesn't have kids in the schools, but fondly remembers how great leaders with vision got it done the way Ken Mercer got it done, will have a lapse, and believe that anyone sitting at a dais with a microphone must be cut from the same cloth as Ken, and will write what a great thing it is to change?
And then a blogger, sitting at home in his underwear will have to respond?

Posted by Wasted Money, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Sep 12, 2014 at 8:53 am

"the board already has directed negotiations with bargaining units to start Aug. 11". The board already HAD agreements with the bargaining units BEFORE the results of the survey and vote. Money was spent on a survey when the decision was already made. Money was wasted! I'm sure that money could have been better spent elsewhere. Notice no mention of the subject of the agreement in my post. What happens when a decision about another issue is made the SAME way but it's a decision you don't agree with? Will you be so forgiving of the wastefulness, and disrespect shown by the board in their decision making processes?

Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Sep 12, 2014 at 1:06 pm

I love your post, Jack!

Posted by Pedal Power, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 12, 2014 at 7:33 pm

I could easily believe that "Jack" is really Scott Adams.

He is certainly as talented, with words, as Scott Adams is with pictures.

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