News

Ballots for school parcel tax mailed to Palo Alto voters

Last day to register to vote is April 20

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters mailed ballots this week to the 42,084 registered voters in the Palo Alto Unified School District who are being asked to vote on a $758 parcel tax to support the district's schools.

The parcel tax, again dubbed Measure A, would raise the $638 per-parcel tax that voters now pay by $120, to $758 per parcel. The tax would begin on July 1 and last six years with 2 percent annual increases. Voters last approved an increase in 2010 under that year's Measure A, which brought a $589 parcel tax also with automatic annual increases of 2 percent.

The Board of Education approved the renewed tax in late January, and has continued to highlight since the critical importance of the estimated $14.7 million in revenue the tax would generate in the 2015-16 school year.

The parcel tax would support district efforts in student health and wellness efforts, academic supports for struggling students and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) instruction.

Specific investments would include family and student counseling services, physical wellness efforts, expanded nursing services at Palo Alto elementary schools, an expansion of summer school, early literacy support, "expert" tutoring, after-school and weekend programming, class size reduction in STEAM electives, support for differentiated instruction at the elementary and middle school level, advanced research in a range of disciplines and computer science curriculum beginning in middle school.

The election takes place on May 5, but as an all-mail ballot election, there will be no polling places on Election Day. Instead, all registered voters in the district will automatically be sent a ballot. No postage is required to return a ballot in an all-mail ballot election.

"It is important for voters to participate in these local special elections because one vote can determine the success or failure of a contest," county Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey said in a press release. "Since every voter automatically receives a ballot in the mail, participating is easy and convenient."

Ballots can be returned by mail using a purple postage-paid return envelope included in the ballot packet. The registrar is encouraging voters to return their ballots as soon as possible to allow enough time for them to be received by Election Day. Ballots that are returned in-person must be received by 8 p.m. on May 5. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked on or before Election Day and must be received by Friday, May 8 (three days after the election).

Special all-mail ballot elections have become common in Santa Clara County. There have been 10 held in the last five years, according to the registrar. All-mail ballot elections typically have voter turnout rates in the 35 percent to 45 percent range. The turnout tends to be higher than most other local special elections but lower than countywide primary or general elections, the registrar said in a press release.

The last day to register to vote in this election is Monday, April 20. To register online, go to registertovote.ca.gov. Voters who want to check their registration status may do so here.

A voter should complete a new registration form if he or she has moved, changed a name(s), or would like to change his or her political party preference, the registrar said.

Online registrations will be accepted as long as they are completed before midnight on April 20. Paper registration forms that are postmarked on that date will also be accepted. Paper registration forms are available at post offices, public libraries, fire stations, city halls and most local government offices.

Additionally, staff from the Registrar's Office will set up drive-thru ballot drop-off sites at Palo Alto City Hall on April 25 and May 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Voters can also cast a ballot in-person at the Registrar's Office at 1555 Berger Drive in San Jose during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Early voting is also available at Building 2 at the same address the following dates and hours: April 5-May 6, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; April 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and May 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, contact the Registrar of Voters' Office at 1-408-299-VOTE (8683); toll-free at 1-866-430-VOTE (8683) or go to sccvote.org.

Related content:

School board approves increased parcel tax

Interpretation of exemptions trips up school parcel tax

Editorial: Caution on parcel tax

Comments

37 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2015 at 9:38 am

Just Say No.

Until PAUSD and PAEAE make a serious effort to address teen suicides, it doesn't deserve any new money.


11 people like this
Posted by YES on A
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 7, 2015 at 9:47 am

If measure A does not pass, PAUSD will cut $13 million out of the budget, which would decrease counseling efforts to kids at risk. How can PAUSD and PAEAE address serious efforts to help kids on the edge if voters have sent a message that they should be doing more work for these kids with less money? What kind of message does that send the kids who are even contemplating such actions? Voting no tells those kids "we don't care - and now your school now has less money to work with - so electives, librarians, counseling will be cut - yeah, all those things that will help the kids will be gone"

Vote YES, and keep that money in the budget for the students who need it.


41 people like this
Posted by Listen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 7, 2015 at 9:54 am

I'm voting No on Measure A.


Because I want to send a message to the board that there are practices in the classrooms that are stressing our kids, causing anxiety, depression and is leading to hospitalization and suicide.

For too long has the teachers, admin, board and union ignored these problems, ignored the parents, and retaliated against the very students they claim to help..

No more good money to a broken system.


42 people like this
Posted by Barron Park Dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 10:00 am

My son is a Senior at Gunn. He is one of the 200 or so kids identified as at risk. He is in emergency counseling at PAMF. Both the Gunn staff and ACS have been supportive, helpful and communicative. This is a trying time for our family, focusing on what is important. I've had two other kids graduate from Gunn.

I support Measure A. Why? Because PAUSD is not the problem, zero period is not the problem, schoology is not the problem, the union is not the problem, the Gunn parents are the problem.

We need to fund the schools to counteract all the negativity coming from the parents.

Many parents - They pull their kids out of classes and send them to the School for Independent Learners if they're not getting A's. They put such pressure on their kids to get A's, the kids cry with an A-. Public humiliation of their kids has happened. I have first hand knowledge of these and many, many others.

Let me say it again, we need to fund the schools to counteract all the negativity coming from the parents.


24 people like this
Posted by Another NO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2015 at 10:01 am

YES,

What a OUTRAGEOUS threat. And 13 million is what counseling costs???

Can we please get confirmation from the district that they would indeed cut counseling first?

I have heard PIE collect money for counseling, the Principals would also cut counseling first?

This is an emergency. A collaborative should set up a new fund, secure, stable and UNTOUCHABLE for student counseling and mental health services which cannot be touched or used to threaten the community.

Better suggestions for cuts: Professional development, raises, and no taking 11 select students to Singapore boondogles.


22 people like this
Posted by Another NO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2015 at 10:10 am

BP Dad,

Generations of people have grown up in trouble (and crying) for not getting an A, or whatever standards their parents have placed on them.

But the conditions in most schools are likely more normal than Gunn and Paly. The problem is that those parents pushing A's rule have warped the mentality of competition at the schools which leads to nonsensical trips to take 11 kids to Singapore.

This is a money issue, which goes with accountability and priorities.


25 people like this
Posted by pamoom
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 10:42 am

BP Dad -- yes, you are right that there are tiger parents who add to the stress. But I disagree that they are the only or even mail problem. My kids have been out of high school for years now, but they also went through a number of the problems parents are trying to make known. And just like your posting, parents' input get dismissed.

This is not to disrespect the schools or teachers. There were many wonderful teachers at Gunn and some fantastic classes and program which our family was grateful for.

But, there were some good teachers who piled on way too much homework. This was not happening at neighboring high schools and this does add to unnecessary stress. And it doesn't give students time to be normal teens. There were some teachers who were not good at all and didn't teach the material. There were some teachers who announced only so many could receive an A. Why is that? If students master the material why limit A grades?

And now many students themselves have spoken out about the stress.

A big problem is the admission process itself and this is not just privates/Ivies but also the UC's and Cal state colleges.

Changing the admission process would be very helpful -- the universities should set certain standards, and once met, put the students into a lottery. Even if they do not get chosen, they will know they were good enough to be there, and there was not some mysterious thing they could have done to improve their chances.


42 people like this
Posted by Listen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 7, 2015 at 10:54 am

@BarronParkDad

I appreciate your perspective and have a similar story. My Paly senior is also in counseling, probably on a watch list, and suffers depression and anxiety. Some of the staff and teachers have been great at the point of crisis. Our stories sound familiar.

Where we differ is that a few years ago our child had some truly terrible teachers belittle, humiliate, intimidate and pressure them. These teachers retaliated when we tried to bring this up with the principal - who did nothing to stop it. These teachers drove our child to a stat of fear and anxiety which persists to this day.

Attending PAUSD causes PTSD in students, and widespread disengagement from learning.

Our stories sound similar until we look at the causes. Ms Walworths opinion piece a few weeks ago made clear we are not alone.

The district needs to clean up the worst practices in the classrooms that lead to anxiety depression an mental illness. Then start to share the best practices that develop engagement and learning.

Until there is reform - No on Measure A


33 people like this
Posted by NO Because I Care
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2015 at 11:09 am

Someone asked on one of these threads what would be demands of people considering voting NO to change their vote. I have been thinking about it, and here are three:

1) Show me the district is capable of fixing problems and improving. Ken Dauber and Terri Godfrey (not district personnel or other board members, we want the result to be trustworthy) should be charged with bringing in an outside organization to do an external review/probe. An audit is different and doesn't usually catch problems. The reviewer should look through our finances, understanding what kinds of areas allow us to save money while actually working better. We didn't even make use of such resources in our construction bond. A reviewer would solicit input from families and teachers/staff who have had problems or complaints, review expenditures, evaluate programs, immerse themselves in the district to try also make educational program recommendations to reduce stress while improving the educational program.

This is not an unheard of practice for an organization that has experienced so much suicide and disaffection.

Input should be confidential upon request. Results should be publicly shared and recommendations made for where money could be saved, processes improved, and administration streamlined as appropriate.

2) Redo the Uniform Complaint Procedure form to encourage feedback and yes, even anonymous complaints about problems, and make a place for complaints to be submitted online anonymously as well. The Uniform Complaint Procedure form is currently indecipherable, and written in a way that makes it seem like it doesn't apply to anything that actually happens or exists and even if it does, you would need a lawyer to figure out how. It discourages input, to say the least. Include a place on the website that shows how anonymous or confidential complaints are addressed so complainants can provide additional information or follow up in order to truly resolve problems.

3) Using the results of #1 and #2, implement a program geared specifically to restoring trust in the finances, operations of the district and the relationship between the schools and the community, up to and including releasing employees whose untrustworthy acts cannot be redeemed.


The problem I see here is that despite all this vociferous complaining on Townsquare, no one - certainly not McGee holed up in the district office with some of the worst offenders - is really hearing the most serious problems. I hear one thing out in the community from parents, and something completely disconnected from the district and on these discussions. I see a lot of people unable to go to counselors or teachers or anyone else because the relationship is so broken. I see a system with no mechanisms for the kinds of checks and balances that make for optimal performance. They just find it very easy to ask us for more money.

Most of all, I see hurting families who have been almost holding their breath waiting for McGee to change things, but instead, the same problematic elements in the district office are snowing and pulling him under, too. The district should have taken responsibility to demonstrate to the public that it could fundamentally solve problems, and restructure itself and improve processes first before asking for more money.

I would love to vote for it, but for the sake of the big picture and our children, I will be voting NO.

Unless the above improvements are adopted, then I will happily vote YES. I will still vote NO if there are just promises to do the above, because in my experience with the district, promises are usually empty (hence #3).


22 people like this
Posted by NO Because I care
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2015 at 11:29 am

@Barron Park Dad,

You say we need to give the schools more money to "counteract all the negativity" from parents? How does that work? Parents sacrifice to send their kids to the schools here,for the ultimate satisfying goal of expressing "negativity" that they couldn't express anywhere else? Really? And how does throwing more money down the hole "counteract the negativity"? Do you mean pay to whitewash administrative misdeeds? Why should parents pay more money for that?

You wrote, "Many parents - They pull their kids out of classes and send them to the School for Independent Learners if they're not getting A's."

I think maybe you should consider who is being negative here. You think parents really send their kids to PAUSD so they can get easy A's? That is parents' highest goal for their kids? Why wouldn't they then choose a different easier school district? Seriously, like it's so easy to live in Palo Alto that it's just a situation people find themselves in, that they move here for the highest ability to express negativity and move their children to an expensive private schooling situation in order to get the easy grades they expected when they moved here. Seriously?

If the grade is the measure of how well the children learned the material, shouldn't a really good school district have MORE children with A's, not fewer? Is our educational system a sorting system, or a way to educate every child optimally (as happens to be our district vision)? It seems to me if it really is the latter, then lower grades is a sign the district is not doing its job to optimally educate them, and we should not reward that by giving more money to dig in on that.

I know people who pull their kids out and send them to the School for Independent Learners because their kids are bored in PAUSD and that school is self-paced and kids are more able to challenge themselves and focus on the learning. It seems quite logical that they would perform better if the program is a better fit.

For you to use that as fodder for amplifying the tiger parent stereotype/meme, for the district to try to shift blame from the need to improve the schools to throwing up its hands and blaming the parents is the height of cynicism. It's also likely to encourage people to vote NO.



23 people like this
Posted by No way
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 7, 2015 at 12:13 pm

If Max McGee, Charles Young, and the school board were serious about the student suicides, the attempts, the counseling and hospitalizations, they would have not renewed the public relations position. If Kevin Skelly was serious about it during his seven years, he would have never allowed the public relations position to be created, and he would aphave asked for more parcel tax money because it was a crisis. If PAEA was serious about our students killing themselves, they would have dedicated all their energy to negotiate for kids instead of filing trivial grievances. Please don't link the increase in the parcel tax to the suicides when money is really what Measure A is about. Voting no.


30 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2015 at 1:01 pm

I will not support any budgetary shenanigans unless they start making cuts at Churchill.

The wastage is at Churchill and top layer. If it is true that McGee and a team of lucky students have been sent abroad, anywhere abroad, at taxpayers costs and then they dare to threaten us that teachers will be reduced then it really is a case of them having too much money to waste and these threats of reducing teachers are a smoke screen.

If they don't get the extension to a temporary parcel tax then so be it. After that they will have to stop their bean feasts, fact finding trips, taking priviledged students on fun trips, whatever, and start using our money that we have been taxed to give them, to spend on educating our students as they are supposed to.

I am outraged that they think they can bamboozle us with threats when I can see so much of our money being wasted.

If this Measure A gets passed, I am going to insist that my kid be allowed to go on the next trip to foreign soil, after all, I am paying for it.


33 people like this
Posted by I'm voting NO too
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 7, 2015 at 1:35 pm


I'm voting No also because:

1. It's a year early for a reason. To get more money from us than they need. Next year they can't afford to play around because they can't lose the parcel tax so they will come at it more conservatively; probably an amount that is not so high. They are asking for a $120 increase AND a 2% increase, starting a year early.

2. I don't think giving in and paying the high increase will help make the district look at excess expenditures that could be cut/lowered. It doesn't force them to run a lean organization. It's only 7% of the budget. How much fluff is in the budget? 3%? 4%?

3. I haven't seen the amount of property taxes they have received in the last six years. They don't report it. Housing in Palo Alto has been going CRAZY meaning lots of new revenue for the schools. They only tell us that it is offset by 1100 new students and other stuff. I would like to see the data.

4. I think they have enough money (revenues and extra reserves) to run a school district of this size.

5. I think helping the health and well-being of the kids doesn't not necessarily mean spending more money (ie cutting zero period or cutting 'before school sports' could also save some money).

6. And last, I think I'm getting numbed by the constant 'it's killing our kids' messages. Unfortunately.


6 people like this
Posted by Eva
a resident of Barron Park School
on Apr 7, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Yes on Measure A.

Measure A only pays for staff, currently 85 teachers & staff. That's $13 million per year that would be cut from the budget. Cutting teachers and increasing class size would be a very bad move for student health and welfare.

On a financial note, Palo Alto school funding is one of the highest in the state, which is great and keeps our property values high. But even our $14,600 per year spent is much less than other comparable districts. Average per pupil spending in NJ for example is close to $19,000.

I like our highly rated district and while there are changes that can be made, cutting money for teachers & increasing class size is not the way to go about it.


30 people like this
Posted by Voting NO, You should too
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Most of the increase in the Parcel Tax is going to raises that PAEA and PAUSD have negotiated and pending. There are a lot of administrators, TOSAs, consultants, legal counsel that are being funded by PAUSD and a complete waste of our Tax Dollars!

Vote NO on Measure A and send a message to the school board that until you start listening to the students, to the community, to the parents, you will need to start cutting costs.

Vote NO if you really care to see positive change being made by the School Board. They will not listen otherwise.


8 people like this
Posted by No way
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 7, 2015 at 4:29 pm

Is that true? Is a district in New Jersey actually outspending Palo Alto? Well maybe that is a good reason to raise the parcel tax.


7 people like this
Posted by I'm Voting YES on Measure A
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 7, 2015 at 4:44 pm

I'm voting yes because we are already underfunded. We need more staff, not fewer--especially at this time.

Holding the district hostage to get YOUR way is exactly the problem. Let's get out of our polarized corners and work together. Join me voting yes.

BTW, running a second ballot measure is not FREE. It costs money to do run a measure. Let's come together and approve the funding we need to give the kids what they need.


14 people like this
Posted by I'm voting NO too
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 7, 2015 at 4:47 pm


"BTW, running a second ballot measure is not FREE. It costs money to do run a measure. Let's come together and approve the funding we need to give the kids what they need."

Then they should of considered this before hiking up the rates in the first place. They highly under-estimated what the community wants to pay. Let them get it right the second time around.


13 people like this
Posted by Vote No
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 5:39 pm

@ Listen

"a few years ago our child had some truly terrible teachers belittle, humiliate, intimidate and pressure them. These teachers retaliated when we tried to bring this up with the principal - who did nothing to stop it. These teachers drove our child to a stat of fear and anxiety which persists to this day."


While we had some excellent teachers and some so-so, both my children, who had learning disabilities, suffered under teachers that publicly belittled, humiliated, intimidated, and pressured them. They both have related fear, anxiety and a complete lack of confidence in their ability to succeed academically. Unfortunately, while the good teachers encouraged and appreciated their strengths, the negative experiences that were imprinted and completely undercut them.


6 people like this
Posted by No No No
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 7:07 pm

[Post removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 7, 2015 at 7:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just remember that what counts is who actually votes. Most school bonds are approved by a small percentage of the eligible voters because those in favor always vote and those opposed are less likely to vote.


27 people like this
Posted by Simply NO no matter what
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 7, 2015 at 7:18 pm

I vote NO because the school district has enough money as it is and should use it more wisely. I cannot afford all these taxes any longer.

Go back to using volunteers in elementary classrooms, as was done when there was no parcel tax yet, to offset any class size increase (although I doubt that class sizes would have to increase in the first place anyway).


18 people like this
Posted by CresentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 7:59 pm

What is really irritating is that every blog about this subject on Palo Alto online
allows people to express their opinions and get objective facts out and point out
bad arguments ... on either side. A lot of people are tending towards NO ON A.

So, we get the resident propagandist Steven Levy, who gets to spin his own
blog in whatever way he wants and delete those who want to express an
opposing opinion because he set up the subject as "why do you support A?

This is a little trick maybe Levy might like to take to Russia, China or even
Iran, because that is where it belongs. A posting on a subject in a town hall
forum should not be allowed to be censored from people expressing their
opinion just because one "blogger", and I used that term loosely, find his ways
to twist the point of his soapbox into Pravda-like ugliness.

Since when is that a public service. Why does Palo Alto Online allow this
to continue day after day. It is not like anyone wants to censor Levy, but he
should not be allowed to censor readers either.


20 people like this
Posted by Yet another NO!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 8:14 pm

I am voting no because I refuse to be manipulated by guilt-mongers!


19 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 7, 2015 at 8:20 pm

@I'm voting NO too --"I haven't seen the amount of property taxes they have received in the last six years. They don't report it."

Yes PAUSD does report it. Here's your last six years:
2008-09 $106,133,203
2009-10 $109,289,695
2010-11 $110,126,767
2011-12 $111,895,854
2012-13 $118,752,373
2013-14 $127,385,788
(from page 312 of PAUSD 2014-15 Budget Book)

PAUSD's projected property tax growth for 2014-15 is 3.00%.

City of Palo Alto expects greater than 5% annual growth going forward to 2025.


6 people like this
Posted by I'm voting NO too
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 7, 2015 at 8:50 pm



Thank you so much @musical. I am so happy to see those numbers. Do you have a link to the budget?


13 people like this
Posted by I'm voting NO too
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 9:12 pm


So just crunching numbers. 1100 new students in the last six years and a projected 700 more in the next five years. Actual property taxes for the last six years with projected 3% increase in the next five years. Current cost per student reported at $14,600. So it looks like the increase in property taxes MORE than covered the new students by LOTS. Am I crunching this right?

Added Revenue Per
Enrollment Student

2008-09 $106,133,203
2009-10 $109,289,695 185 $17,062.12
2010-11 $110,126,767 368 $10,852.08
2011-12 $111,895,854 551 $10,458.53
2012-13 $118,752,373 734 $17,192.33
2013-14 $127,385,788 917 $23,176.21
2014-15 $131,207,362 1100 $22,794.69
2015-16 $135,143,582 1240 $23,395.47
2016-17 $139,197,890 1380 $23,959.92
2017-18 $143,373,827 1520 $24,500.41
2018-19 $147,675,041 1660 $25,025.20
2019-20 $152,105,293 1800 $25,540.05


2 people like this
Posted by I'm voting NO too
a resident of University South
on Apr 7, 2015 at 9:14 pm



Bummer it didn't line up very well so kind of hard to read.


3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 7, 2015 at 10:47 pm

I purposely did not include the link to the budget. Not hard to find, those able to search for it may be prepared to wait a couple minutes for 25 megabytes to download. Low-bandwidth people may just get frustrated. Thus forewarned, here it is -- Web Link

As I said recently on another thread, this is a respectable document. The Executive Summary, pages 5-27, should be enough to gain basic functional literacy on district financial matters. See page 9 figures to compare your "number crunching" above.

I have a different concern. Whenever I feel underfinanced, I go bring in more money, but then the government wants a bigger piece of it, and my neighbors call me names. It reaches a point of diminishing returns. How much richer can our district get before the state begins taking money away from us to help poorer districts?


13 people like this
Posted by Noo Way
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 8, 2015 at 12:18 am

Not paying any more money for a teachers union that opposes using Schoology.


7 people like this
Posted by Noo Way
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 8, 2015 at 12:21 am

This thing is going down like a rock on Jupiter.


15 people like this
Posted by Also No
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2015 at 9:17 am

I'm voting no because this is the only way to send a real message, even if it still passes but by a lesser margin. I'm tired of paying for more administrators at 25 Churchill and all these fancy new programs that benefit only a select few when basic programs like school sports teams have been permanently defunded, back when times were tight. With all this money they have, they never talk about funding the programs they have permanently off-loaded to the community, so it's not a real budget. And based on the above property tax numbers, we've already got our increase due to the real estate market. Also how much did the Singapore trip cost?


7 people like this
Posted by Sherri
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 8, 2015 at 10:14 am

I can't imagine that because the district doesn't obtain more money it will have to raise the class size that much. Having a school where the class size is just too big to be condusive to learning is not something that the district, teachers, or parents would be ok with. The disrict prides itself and strives for small class size. If we say no on this tax most likely the school will have to make other adjustments like limiting enrollment or reducing some services, rather than increase class size so much that it negatively affects the learning environment.


14 people like this
Posted by When will it stop?
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 8, 2015 at 10:48 am

It is not a funding issue, it is an allocation issue due to misaligned priorities. Until you have admins, teachers, their unions and school boards get aligned with students and parents, then those controlling the budgets will make decisions which suit their agendas and ignore the stakeholders and constituents of PAUSD.

How much longer before the good people of Palo Alto finally say NO and stop funding what is clearly not in our best interest. We must require the stewards of our children's education and thus our future to be accountable to our priorities.


12 people like this
Posted by A few questions
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 8, 2015 at 10:56 am

Who is paying for this dinner? This is an enticement to donate to support Measure A.

"Donate NOW, and you will be entered into a drawing for dinner with Superintendent Max McGee."

Do you think he will listen to me if I win the dinner?
How much admin time is being spent on campaigning efforts versus educating?
Where can I donate to oppose Measure A?


3 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 8, 2015 at 11:53 am

I'm a big fan of high school sports. But I'd be the first to say that district funding should be primarily focused on the academic mission, student support services and maintenance of facilities.

Extra-curricular activities are voluntary and should be funded by the participants and/or donations.


17 people like this
Posted by Voting parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

I just got a robo call from Joe Simitian asking me to vote yes on A.

I am voting NO. The district has enough money as it is. There is much waste and mismanagement.


18 people like this
Posted by Another NO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Crescent Park Dad,

Mayhem when money goes to take 11 students to Singapore to do research. That could be disguised under academic mission. Academic mission cannot be all things to all people.

I agree with when will it stop? This is an allocation issue. To allocate you need scrupulous criteria and discipline which the district does not have.

Draw up a discipline PAUSD. You can't just keep presenting programs because you talked it over with the IS council or whatever. And the Board has to cheer everything.

Please never never threaten with cutting support for students. Not after years of refusing to consider it necessary to support them, but now using it to pass a tax.


10 people like this
Posted by Listen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2015 at 1:08 pm

"I just got a robo call from Joe Simitian asking me to vote yes on A."


Did Big Votin' Joe explain why he has been silent on the mental health crisis in our schools?

Why weigh in now?

Can we at least hear from a politician who has credibility with this problem? Someone who leads when there are problems? Not just show up when there is money at stake?


I imagine its a panic state down at the "No Dollar Left Behind Headquarters" : quick, call Joe! There's money that might go un taxed! It's a crisis!!

... Meanwhile asleep through how many suicides, hospitalizations, and years of REAL crisis? Oh. And he used to sit on this school board. So we couldn't expect him to have an opinion on student well being BEFORE the money was at risk. Ugh.



3 people like this
Posted by Support Our Students
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2015 at 3:12 pm

I support Measure A because the cuts we would see are the aides, electives, and classroom support that students need. Aides are vital to help struggling or special needs students in the classrooms. Electives allow for less pressure and creative outlets for students. Technology and classroom support allows for more flexibility to reach all students' needs. And yes, there would be funding to keep, or increase counseling services. Please reauthorize the parcel tax to support all students.


7 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm

I have trouble believing that voting No sends any kind of message that will result in a solution. It sends a message that we don't support our children. I do not want my chid in a classroom with 27 kids. I do not want the enthusiastic teacher to get pink slipped next year. I don't want the possibility of productive change to be stymied by an overwhelming budget crisis.

I do want my kids to be part of community the works together to support them feel safe, healthy and engaged. Without $13MM it means there won't be much good stuff left. The teachers will get paid but there will less options, less classrooms and a lot less.

We all need to stop posting online and start talking to our neighbors. Build community. Make Palo Alto better for everyone.


5 people like this
Posted by No way
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 8, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Joe Simitian has been mute on the student suicides from 2009 on, but what politician would touch this topic? They are not dumb, but they and Joe Simitian are also not leaders, at least not for the average Joes who have been horrified at the suicides and the continual botched board inaction. You can judge our leaders better by what they do, and in this case, Joe Simitian has done nothing, that is until money was the issue. Can this get any worse?


21 people like this
Posted by Priorities
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 8, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Maybe instead of pink slipping the teacher they could pink slip Tabitha. How can you seriously ask anyone to vote for a big tax increase when the district is paying $170K per year for a PR officer.

If you are so worried about the parcel tax, why don't you take yourself over to 25 Churchill and have a heart to heart with McGoo about the runaway expenses in the district office. Fire Tabitha. Get legal fees under control. Stop wasting our taxpayer dollars trying to get lawyers to stop the one board member who cares from doing his job. Stop spending taxpayer money on suing special ed families. Stop spending taxpayer dollars fighting the federal government over sexual harassment at the high schools. That's probably well over a million now. Why do we need a $140K "research director"? Sounds like we need in-house counsel and a staff psychiatrist instead. Get rid of Bowers and hire a negotiator who doesn't have a conflict of interest.

Zero period? That's insulting.

Schoology? The public's blood is boiling.

The union? Appalling. They have been engaged in unfair labor practices of work-to-rule based on a misuse of a provision in the contract for a year and Bowers is just in bed with them.

Priorities are wrong. [Portion removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by NO!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2015 at 9:22 pm

I am voting NO.

Why am I paying for more administrators and teachers when there is no priorities placed in the classrooms!
There is already talks of adding $2M to administrators and staff:
Web Link

Why should we give them more money? Do they really think we are that stupid?
VOTE NO!


5 people like this
Posted by NO!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2015 at 9:24 pm

REMEMBER to VOTE! LOOK for the ballot in the mail!
I love how the ballots were sent during spring break!!
REMEMBER to VOTE!!!!


4 people like this
Posted by NO Because I Care
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2015 at 10:55 pm

"How can you seriously ask anyone to vote for a big tax increase when the district is paying $170K per year for a PR officer. "

If she was really doing what she was billed as being necessary to do -- fulfill records requests -- then it would be one thing. She's still being paid WAY too much, but at least she would be doing something for the families of the district. But the district was clearly just using her hiring as an opportunity to complain about families making records requests as making it hard for all the other overpaid administrators to do their jobs, hence making her necessary. And yet, it's harder than ever to get information and records from the district. Basically, they don't respond to records requests now at all. So what is the justification for retaining her except that there is no mechanism at all for every reorganizing at the top of our district.


9 people like this
Posted by NO Because I Care
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2015 at 11:03 pm

"I'm a big fan of high school sports. But I'd be the first to say that district funding should be primarily focused on the academic mission, student support services and maintenance of facilities. "

Is that the latest promise? I don't think the money HAS to be spent on anything specifically when they get it. These things are written to promise a lot of hold them to nothing. At least that's been my experience of past bonds. Especially what they SAY? No one will remember.

It's hard to take a district seriously about big new fund needs that just chipped in an extra $20 million above a $20 million donation for a gym when they just built a new gym on the other side of town for $12 million.


9 people like this
Posted by Voting No
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2015 at 12:15 am

I will vote no on this measure. I cannot stomach the thought of any additional money going to teachers who refuse to use schoology and follow the spirit of the district's homework policy in these difficult times.


2 people like this
Posted by Please don't throw out the baby with the bathwater!
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 9, 2015 at 8:53 am

I have children in Middle school and I too worry about the level of stress that's waiting for them at the high schools. I too have cried and am heart-broken by our young who have chosen to end their lives. I too worry about teacher inconsistencies, the culture of cheating, the sense that there's only one path to success (namely the impossible one of getting into one of the so-called best universities), and the challenge of any child to feel they can shine in a community of over-achievers like Palo Alto.

However, the answer is NOT to defeat Measure A and risk larger class sizes/less individual attention for our students. We absolutely must continue to voice our concerns at school board meetings, in letters to board members and Max, in letters to the newspapers, and in who we vote on to serve on school board (there are good reasons for why Ken was voted in!). Things ARE happening at the board level and at the schools! Max & the board ARE listening and have plans to make much-needed changes! Does it at times not feel quickly enough and do some board members handling of discussions/issues make me cringe, yes!? However, the ball has started rolling and we need to unite behind it rather than to waste efforts and time to punish and "send messages." Defeating Measure A will only serve to distract and slow down the ball that really needs to keep rolling right now. Come on people, please let's stay focused on our common goal of supporting and helping our youth! Which includes ensuring that our district has the money needed to do what we are asking of them.


4 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 9, 2015 at 9:03 am

Giving more money to PAUSD is like giving alcohol to an alcoholic -- "because it will help him get sober".

It's nonsensical. This district is in crisis...the level of suicides are going to attract attention of legal authorities. You simply cannot have kids killing themselves at this rate and "sweep things under the rug".

At a MINIMUM we need:

- Vote NO on A.
- Max McGee resign. In any other organization this would have happened long ago. Sure, he's a nice guy but he does not "get it"
- External audit to look at making significant changes, including significant penalties for teachers who are abusing the system and putting kids at risk.

PAUSD could easily get entangled in a lawsuit because they are clearly being negligent (ignoring the concerns of medical authorities, for example). People need to get their heads out of the sand.


6 people like this
Posted by I'm voting NO too
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 9, 2015 at 9:26 am


@Please don't throw out the baby with the bathwater!

I believe in everything you say EXCEPT the last sentence. See we have plenty of money in the school district all ready, it just needs to be managed better. And next year it will be harder to VOTE NO. We need to do it this year. That's why the message.


1 person likes this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 9, 2015 at 10:15 am

"It's hard to take a district seriously about big new fund needs that just chipped in an extra $20 million above a $20 million donation for a gym when they just built a new gym on the other side of town for $12 million."

I believe the donation is now $24mil+. What source do you have that states PAUSD is putting in $20mil as well? I know that the original building bond contribution was $5mil and then increased to $9mil. I have not heard $20mil. Please provide a link - this is important to know.

I don't want to take this off-topic. But $12mil. was one new gym (including new weight room & other spaces), not two. There were additional funds used to update the existing Gunn gym/classrooms/lockers/office as well. The Peery/Paly project is two new gyms (plus offices, locker rooms, weight room, aquatics facility additions) from scratch.


3 people like this
Posted by NO because I care
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2015 at 10:18 am

Another Dad,
I agree with you except about McGee reigning. We should keep McGee, get rid of Young and Carrillo, and when we do, we should dope slap McGee for ever thinking keeping them around was a good idea. They are a wedge between him and the community. Even the new members of the board have no idea how those two undermine trust and everything that flows from trust. I'm sorry "baby/bathwater" but I wish I could believe you. The district needs to make the show of good faith first not promise it's afoot in ways we don't realize (in the same way all the bad stuff goes on, behind our backs and closed doors, never honestly and open and in the sunshine). Let them show us not just more empty promises. They have another year before the old bond expires. Parents are expecting action fast, so there is time.

Audit is not the same as an investigation. Audits of nonprofits rarely catch malfeasance. We need an outside investigation, and it needs to be by people who are not just cover for the current administration, in fact, it should be only by an org capable of refusing to schmooze or be bamboozled by them.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2015 at 10:30 am

Getting rid of McGee at this stage is not a good idea for many reasons.

It was an expensive process in getting him and would be expensive to get rid of him and then find some other goon to replace him. Not a good idea.

Whether he is competent or not to do his job is still under consideration. However, he has been thrown in at the deep end and an outsider coming in to what we have had this year was always going to be a difficult baptism. How he recovers will show his abilities and I think it is time for him to start throwing his weight around and making some of the changes we expect of him.

We are coming towards the end of what can only be described as another troubling year in the District. We don't want another one and now is the time to prepare for that and make some big changes. If things are left to stagnate any longer then next year could be just as bad for many of our students.

Max must make changes, now.


20 people like this
Posted by Listen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2015 at 10:38 am

@please don't throw out the baby with the bath water writes:

"Things ARE happening at the board level and at the schools! Max & the board ARE listening and have plans to make much-needed changes!"

Really? Then why have they kept this secret?
For years we have had a mental health crisis. Silence.
For months we have had hospitalizations. Silence.
For weeks and weeks we have had articles outlining one screw-up after another. Silence.
For days we have had an online revolt. Silence.

WHEN exactly are the going to share this plan? Years? Months? Weeks? Days?

When? What 'Plan'? Why Secret?

You see, they could have chosen to lead at any point, but didn't. A parcel tax is not automatic - they need to show leadership. They haven't. Their only stated plan so far is to 'look into it' , get more data; and a knee jerk spending addendum. That's not a plan.

And most of their knee jerk reactions come AFTER someone else exposes their problems; not because they have proactively pointed out the problems. That's not a plan - that's just pulling your pants up after they've fallen down.

A plan would look like a well worded, thoughtful Op-Ed piece whereby they lay out the issues as they see it , they expose the problems, they spell out a vision for the district, and steps proposed for how to get there. Silence.

Where is Godfrey's plan? She has been in office more than 100 days. That is the normal political timeline? She was the project SafetyNet Lady for God's sakes! Not a peep out of her. By now she should have written an open letter to the community outraged at the complacency, problems and institutional failures -she should have at least found the problems before the newspaper.

Silence.

Where is Caswell's state of the schools speech? Townsend can only gain credibility by standing down - she has been part of the problems and coverup for so long there is no redemption. Emberling hasn't even shown awareness, much less leadership.

Really? Where is their plan? Where? Tell us the fucking plan!! Individually, or as a group they sit silent; buffeted by one disaster after another.

Silence.

Their complete abdication of leadership in this crisis is reason enough to vote No on Measure A. Their incompetence and silence speaks louder than my NO vote on Measure A.

They gotta start exposing the problems and start proposing solutions. Anytime: years, months, weeks...days ... anytime now. sometime.


13 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 9, 2015 at 11:02 am

mauricio is a registered user.

The PAUSD has been the beneficiary of a significant increase in property tax revenues due to the incessant increase in home prices. They don't need the money. They ask for it because they know that school bonds are a sacred cow here. This board and the administration it oversees deserve so much criticism and even scorn, not another huge financial injection.


20 people like this
Posted by Priorities
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 9, 2015 at 11:17 am

The fact that this online NO campaign is even taking off is a sign that Max is in WAYYYYYYYYYY over his head here. He should have seen this coming. Is McGoo so myopic that he could not see this coming even when it was visible from miles away?

How to lose friends and influence no one:

1. Do not declare a crisis and announce that 300 kids are on suicide watch suddenly after months of saying "we are doing great."

2. Do not do step 1.

3. If you do step 1 anyway, do not get on an airplane the next day.

3. Do not do step 3.

4. If you do step 3 anyway, do not go to the other side of the world with a handpicked group of 11 students who all got to go through a secret unnannounced process with no change for everyone to apply.

5. Do not do step 4.

6. If you do step 4 anyway, do not propose doing more of the same later by hiring a $140K district staffer whose mission it will be is to increase the amount of (4) you do in the future.

7. Do not do step 6.

8. If you do step 6 anyway, do not do it in the middle of a parcel tax campaign in which you talk about how broke you are.

9. Do not do step 8.

10. If you do step 8 anyway, do not expect to win.






4 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 9, 2015 at 11:46 am

Eric Rosenblum is a registered user.

It's hard to say how many actual people the posters above represent (because no one is using their real names), but I still find it very disheartening.

We are only a small way into our PAUSD experience (we have kids at Addison and Jordan), but we have had a wonderful experience. More to the point, though, I cannot see any good to come out of defeating Measure A, and putting a massive hole in PAUSD's budget.

Sending a message?

It's pretty easy to send a message by electing a school board who represent the interests of the community. We were lucky in this past cycle that there were so many highly qualified candidates. Let's support them.

YES on Measure A!


16 people like this
Posted by No, thank you
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Apr 9, 2015 at 11:56 am

For years at our children's school, we have been informed of only issues that benefitted the teachers, but I think everyone in our community is seeing things more clearly. I am heartened by the latest posters in this thread who will be voting NO with my husband and I. More money will result in more silence, more cheerleading, and more of what we have experienced in the last few years. Max McGee has a three-year contract and I think that is fine. He should not receive a contract extension this year, but should receive one in June of 2016--if he has demonstrated that he can make substantial changes. Most of our children' teachers have been great, but if you stay long enough in Palo Alto, you will get more than one lemon. Until the teachers' union works to clean that up, I am definitely voting NO this time and next.


10 people like this
Posted by Spending priorities?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 9, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Dismiss the PR staffer who was hired at approx. 130K/year relatively recently and I'll give serious consideration to voting for this costly measure. Otherwise, NO. If PAUSD is so short of money, then they should prioritize "the children" and admit it was a mistake to hire the PR woman. Threatening to raise class sizes and affect "the children" should be a last resort, not the first move.


Like this comment
Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Thank you for correcting the number of eligible voters in this article. I am surprised no one questioned only two thousand when the article was first put up on the Web.


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Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 9, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Alphonso is a registered user.

Removing the parcel tax money would be very harmful - I think it represents 7-8% of the general fund revenue. I am amazed at the number of negative comments - people willing to shoot themselves in the foot to make some sort of point. I will be amused if "A" does not pass - it will simply demonstrate to everyone how selfish and seemingly unstable the PA adult community has become. Glad my kids have long since graduated from this hysteria.


10 people like this
Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 9, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Both my kids went through Hoover-JLS-Gunn. They are in colleges now. I had been voting yes on all school related tax in the past, however, I am NOT sure this time after seeing what teacher's union did for Gunn Principal who wants a change of how teachers posting homework online to reduce the chaos of every student who has to go to lots of web sites to find their homework. Teacher's union should reform or throw out as they are NOT helping. I have to say that most teachers in PAUSD are good to reasonable teachers. For the years that my kids were in PAUSD, we encournted one bad teacher at Hoover, two very bad teachers in JLS, and five nasty teahcers at Gunn....growing from low grade to high grade :-(. However, these few bad teachers really impact a student's confidence to be good in the school. My son once got home crying like a baby complaining how bad he was treated by a teacher. I had to comfort him for a few days to get it through. So, as of today, I think to vote NO this time, just to give PAUSD and teacher union a lesson.


7 people like this
Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 9, 2015 at 1:14 pm

One more comment, for those parents who have kids only in elementary school, you have not seen the whole picture of PAUSD. Yes, both my kids had good time at Hoover (although one teacher was bad). Kids in that age still listen to their parents very much and get comfort from parents when they have problem, so no stress at all. However, a different picture when kids are in high school. Teens try to be independent in high school, they may withdraw or hide their trouble from parents. When they have problem, they look for help from teachers and peers more than parents who may be too "restricted". By that time, if teen has a few bad teachers, it really impact their emotion and well being. Many cases, it was too late when a parent find out.


4 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Why hasn't anyone asked if parcel taxes are fair? They are very regressive. Property owners of small parcels pay as much as huge apartment house owners. Is that fair?


13 people like this
Posted by Crowded
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2015 at 3:01 pm

There are four voters in our small household on a small lot. We have all voted NO as soon as our ballots came in!


2 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 9, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Fair or not, California state law strictly regulates school taxes to the parcel tax method. There is no other way for California school districts to raise additional revenue via taxes.


2 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 9, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Regarding the parcel tax as a means of raising supplemental funds for school budgets in California...

It is true that the state strictly limits the way cities and schools can collect money. Taxes based on income or property value, for example, are forbidden. Parcel taxes, however, do not have to be *flat* with each property paying the same amount.

It is legitimate to enact a *variable parcel* tax based on property size. While not a perfect measure of wealth, this would serve as a reasonable proxy. People with larger properties tend to have more money.

For reference, see page 7 of Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 9, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Someone please help me understand how a home owner in Palo Alto would come to oppose this parcel tax if they did *not* have a particular ax to grind and needed to make this an act of protest. Balanced against the value of an R-1 lot, no matter what structure is on it, paying an additional $120/yr compared to what we've been paying is a trivial personal expense to help show that Palo Alto stands behind its schools and would-be home purchasers can count on that support to continue.

How many of the people confidently saying there's no chance of money problems for the district because of rising real estate values would themselves be willing to put down $1.5–2.5M for a house here, knowing what we all do about the troubles the district has been experiencing and seeing that the town may turn down a modest tax to maintain school quality? There are a lot of other places you could put your housing dollars?

Grumble if you want, but vote Yes on A in your own self-interest even if you don't acknowledge the benefits that supporters of the measure see in it.


12 people like this
Posted by I'm voting NO too
a resident of Triple El
on Apr 9, 2015 at 5:20 pm


@Jerry Underdal

Not sure, Jerry, if you are really strong on a YES vote that we will be able to help you understand. First of all, it's not modest. It's $120 ON TOP OF what we already pay PLUS it's a year early, PLUS there is a 2% increase each year as well. I don't call that modest.

With all the posts regarding NO on A, which ones are not good enough for you? There are so many reasons this vote: Schoology refusals, suicide cluster, union power, high paying PR personnel, OCR cases, 14% reserve, insane housing market that has exploded with revenues for the school district in the last two years. If this isn't the year to vote NO, then I can't think of any year that we would ever vote NO. If this isn't the year, then we can just count on the school district having their hands in out wallets all the time.

I not for unlimited funding to the schools. I am for a lean, well managed organization that cares for our kids.

The Daily Post yesterday reported that our average teacher makes $94K and today they reported that Menlo Park's average teacher makes $69K. My first thought was if I was a teacher, I would use Schoology for the extra $25K but then again Menlo Park probably uses Schoology anyway.


12 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 9, 2015 at 6:07 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Why didn't the PAUSD fix the serious issues in the district after pervious parcel tax initiatives had been approved by the voters? If the district needs the money so badly, why would they hire a 150,000 dollar a year PR person? Why is the PAUSD administration so bloated ? Voting YES would just mean that the district will continue its hear-no-evil-see-no-evil attitude. A YES vote would be a vote for the status quo. It would guarantee no action, and it would only mean that in a few years they'll come begging for another parcel tax. They consider the residents to be a cash cow that gives and gives forever without demanding anything of value in return, and we must stop this nasty habit.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 9, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@I'm voting NO too

If you own your home, you've seen the value of your property go up each year by multiples of the $640/yr you've been paying, at least in part because of the perceived value of a PAUSD education. If by "having their hands in our wallets" you mean the government will continue to tax us in order to pay for government services, I agree with you.

I'll extend the "ax to grind" notion to include a general anti-tax position philosophy. So I would give Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association members a pass on this. I wouldn't expect them to vote for a tax increase on no matter how much they would benefit.

To the point about a year early, it's not that we'd be making an extra payment, just that the payment for this coming year would be $120 greater than it would have been. I'm OK with that.


16 people like this
Posted by walker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 9, 2015 at 6:41 pm

I couldn't help but notice the four homes that I walked by at 4pm today that had "Vote Yes on A" signs with their sprinklers going full blast.

Such people are seriously misguided on the ethical, moral, and legal issues of watering during our drought and the prohibited 10am to 6pm time frame. Do we really want to be led/persuaded by people who don't give a darn about water conservation or the law? Their judgement is flawed.

More money is not going to stop teen suicide, just allow certain citizens to cloak themselves in the mantel of feeling good about themselves for being willing to throw money at a tragic and intractable problem. The district has only shown the ability to spin the message, and not steward our taxpayer dollars responsibly.

I'm voting NO!


6 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 9, 2015 at 7:04 pm

How generous the school district is for paying the postage on our Measure A ballots!!

Did we sign up for that with the last parcel tax renewal?


Like this comment
Posted by Voting Yes
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 9, 2015 at 7:31 pm

There's so much misinformation going on I don't know where to start.

Yes, I've read your arguments about voting no and I just don't get it.

Sure, the school district needs to improve. What have they been doing this past year? Katya was reassigned and Denise Hermann was brought in. My daughter, a Senior at Gunn, tells me the environment has really changed for the better. I've spoken to several teachers and they say the same thing.

What else has happened for the better? New superintendent Max McGee (please don't call him Mr. McGoo, very disrespectful!) has really changed the tone. I read his letters and I've heard him speak. Things are getting better.

I recently spoke to an ACS counselor at Gunn and she told me all the programs that are underway, expanded from last year. The Gunn counseling department has expanded and reorganized. I find it much improved.

This is not to say there's a long way to go.

Unfortunately Ken Dauber is not helping. I voted for him but his sudden digression into zero period is disappointing. He uses words like secret and underground for a program that has 300 kids enrolled this year, has been around for several years, and I know at Jordan it's been going on for at least eight years! I guess Ken is not as tuned in to PAUSD as he lead us to believe.

Why the increase? As I understand it we're losing money from Cubberly, there are new mandates from the state, and this funds new electives and programs. I'm sure some of the money will go to the teachers.

So when the district is working hard to fix their ills, let's cut a whole bunch of funding. Let's raise class sizes, cut libraries, cut programs, and lay off some teachers. Let's add more stress to the system.

Clearly there's a long way to go for improvement, but let's ask how we can help. Who volunteers for the PTA? Who drives field trips? Who helps with safe routes to school? Who attends school board meetings and voices their opinion? Who attends the principal's coffees? I do.


5 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 9, 2015 at 7:34 pm

This measure would do better if it were just an extension of the current tax. The increase is an attempt to overreach at a time when the ad valorem property taxes are increasing substantially.

If this goes down, I expect them to come back later with a pure extension. If this fails, all is not all doom and gloom. The parcel is rolling in for another year in any case.


8 people like this
Posted by Priorities
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 9, 2015 at 7:51 pm

@voting yes AKA PAEA

"Unfortunately Ken Dauber is not helping. I voted for him but his sudden digression into zero period is disappointing. He uses words like secret and underground for a program that has 300 kids enrolled this year, has been around for several years, and I know at Jordan it's been going on for at least eight years! I guess Ken is not as tuned in to PAUSD as he lead us to believe."

This is false. There are no quotes from Ken Dauber saying that zero period was 'secret' or "underground." Editor, please delete this false allegation. Dauber never used those terms and if you have a quote, cite it. Transparent effort by the union to shift blame to the only board member trying to hold them accountable.

@AKA PAEA also wrote
"Sure, the school district needs to improve. What have they been doing this past year? Katya was reassigned and Denise Hermann was brought in. My daughter, a Senior at Gunn, tells me the environment has really changed for the better. I've spoken to several teachers and they say the same thing."

This one made me laugh so hard coffee came out my nose.

48 students at Gunn have been hospitalized this year.
200 studnets at Paly are on the suicide watchlist and that is one in ten students at the school. Walk through the campus and count off students. Every 10th one is on the SUICDE WATCH LIST.

Please tell us again PAEA how much greatness better it is than before! What was it before, the Battle of Somme?

You guys deserve to lose the parcel tax and you will.



2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 9, 2015 at 9:18 pm

why have I not received a mail ballot yet? What's my recourse for voting? What is the deadline? Pretty fishy that this is a mail only vote - I've never even heard of that before.


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Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 9, 2015 at 9:27 pm

Alphonso is a registered user.

Parent

You should read the article - it explains the voting process in quite a bit of detail.


6 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 9, 2015 at 9:47 pm

Have received mine. Since my conditions for voting "yes" are pretty simple--drop academic zero period, follow district homework policy (and use schoology as directed to make that possible), I'll wait 'til the last minute to vote no.

But if it's business-as-usual, then "No" it will be. I'm not worried about my housing prices. Demand way outstrips supply, so this measure going down won't do a thing to real-estate prices.

Because, frankly, I care way more about kids (particularly mine) than real-estate prices. I'd rather there were some other way to get through to the district, but sometimes the only thing that talks is money.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 9, 2015 at 9:54 pm

Alphonso - all voting options well and good IF you received the ballot in the mail. I'm already registered as a long time mail in voter. Again, no ballot in the mail. How many people aren't reciving ballots, and arent reading Palo Alto online to know there's even supposed to be a ballot coming that isn't there yet?


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 9, 2015 at 9:56 pm


Just remember there are many different ranges of house values in
Palo Alto ... probably from plus or minus million to up to many
millions ... and this parcel tax hits all of us the same.

That is if you house hovers around 1 million you pay $768/million
of house value.

If your house is twice has much, 2 million,
you pay $384 / million of house value.

If your house is 3 million,
you pay $256/ million of house value.

and so on ....

If your house is $10million,
you pay $77/million of house value

In other words the richer you are, the
more your house costs, the more children
you probably have, though not necessarily,
the less you pay.

How is that fair? How is that a cost shared
or balanced in our city?

The answer is ... it's not.

VOTE NO ON MEASURE A


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 9, 2015 at 9:57 pm

@Parent, I just received my ballot from my mail carrier this afternoon (Thursday). The May 2010 parcel tax ballot (also called Measure A) was also done by mail only.

I looked up the 2010 results: 16,342 YES; 4,231 NO.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 9, 2015 at 10:00 pm

@CPA, you're using house value, not house equity. Which really says how rich you are?


8 people like this
Posted by NO Because I Care
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2015 at 10:24 pm

Web Link

Price Tag for New Paly Athletic Center $36 to $40 million.

We could get a really first-rate luxury athletic center, two gyms for the original donation, we did not have to chip in so much more or anymore if we have such great needs that we need an increase in the bond measure. And where did the principle of parity go?

If you look at the cost of school construction, as reported by the state, even for very high cost areas, we should have largely gotten brand new schools -- BRAND NEW SCHOOLS -- across most of the district. The bond measure promises where they renovate, the work will be either new or indistinguishable from new. Look around your school where renovations were done -- is that what you got? You know why we didn't get brand new schools for the last big facilities' bond we voted ourselves? Because no one is minding the store. The oversight committee is just there to be sure no one has a secrete Swiss Bank Account, they are not there to make sure the bond money gets spent well or as promised. No one in the CDE is, either, nor the CA Board of Education. The district did not make the best use of the money because they did not have to and they know they can just ask us for more when they need it, Skelly said as much in one of the depressing board meetings I attended during his tenure.

I was thinking about the whole issue today and what our options are for next year. I have been holding out that our district would bring forward some improvements in our educational program that would allow more flexibility, less stress, and more optimal education as our vision promises. But I realized this: There is no working with certain people in the district office. They are poisonous poisonous poisonous.

I'm tired of trying to do anything as a parent, and realizing EVERYTHING every interaction is loaded. There is what they say to us as parents and what is really going on, and they just have an entrenched culture of keeping those separate, to our children's detriment. I'm tired of dealing with such dishonesty, it has no place in a school district. I once called the California Department of Education to get some information and the person there happened to mention they had just gotten a call from Palo Alto -- it was one of those people in the district office, trying to get information for how the district could make palatable excuses that they COULD NOT do something that would benefit kids and families! I'm sure Max McGee directed the person to try to get information to help, but he is now all but squirreled away there beyond reach now.

How is it that we have kids so despondent because of an educational system that is so judgmental and unsupportive, and we have administrators who get pass after pass for the most egregious behavior? Why don't we make it possible for everyone who has dealt with said administrators in relation to their duties to give them a grade? Anything less than an A, and they should be out on their keesters, and we should give them no more leeway than they've given our kids in grading over the years -- one bad experience, and tough luck Charlie.


12 people like this
Posted by NO Because I Care
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2015 at 10:54 pm

@Jerry Underdal,
"Someone please help me understand how a home owner in Palo Alto would come to oppose this parcel tax if they did *not* have a particular ax to grind "

Are you characterizing concern for this crisis of the suicide of so many children and the extraordinarily high depression rates, and the lack of any time for a life outside of school for most of the kids as our surveys show, as having "a particular ax to grind"?

Homeowners in Palo Alto care about our kids, or they wouldn't vote themselves these expensive taxes in the first place. If, somehow, there are voters voting for these taxes who don't care about the kids, the only other reason is property values, and that should make people want to get these problems solved all the more.

We have a crisis here, and parents are trying to get it dealt with. NOT dealing with it will ultimately hurt our district and hurt our kids. Giving the district the idea that everything is fine, and they don't have to listen and respond to parents -- that they can just treat those willing to speak up for our kids as having "a particular ax to grind" and ignore them (as they do now) -- risks leaving our district open to liability and reputation problems. And it leaves open the real possibility that certain people in the district will continue to treat the crisis like they have in the past, like it's just a matter of waiting it out and going on as usual.

These kinds of things have a lag time, and if Palo Alto develops a negative enough reputation, it will be very hard to turn that around. Imagine that happening in step with a downturn in the economy. The only thing that kept property values relatively stable here relative to other areas was the schools.

I will do one thing, though. I won't send in the ballot for two weeks. If the magic trust fairy comes out and spirits away Charles Young and Brenda Carrillo (hopefully to some profession that doesn't involve children), and puts an investigation in their place per above, I will be with in you the call center getting yes votes.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 9, 2015 at 10:55 pm

musical - no mistake in those voting results. Why do yo uthink the district choses to do their parcel tax ballots in off cycle election where there will be extremely low voter turnout, where its very easy for the no's to be apathetical, the seniors don't need to show up (because they don't pay anyway), and the PTA/PIE screechers have their captive audience to get out the vote. Not a coincidence I think that the school district has around the same number of students as the yes vote on the district special parcel taxes, time after time after time. There's virtually no chance that the NO vote will win this one either.

What we need is a law passed that says parcel tax votes need to be on the major election cycles.


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Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 9, 2015 at 10:59 pm

Alphonso is a registered user.

Parent - You obviously did not read the article - perhaps you should ask someone else to read it to you. You can call the election office for help and you can vote in person if you like.


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Posted by NO Because I Care
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2015 at 11:00 pm

Resident,
Better to get the district to adopt rules to let parents intervene short of elections when things are going really wrong. Unfortunately districts are extremely insular. No one even has the power to tell them what to do -- somehow, the parents have to make them adopt rules allowing parents some powers of checks and balances short of elections.

The only governing body that can do that is the district themselves, they can adopt such rules. If you are actively against the measure, please begin asking now...


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Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 10, 2015 at 6:01 am

mauricio is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by paloaltoparent
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:14 am

paloaltoparent is a registered user.

I'm supporting Measure A! It's the only way to keep moving forward. $13M per year pays for 85 teachers, psychologists, counselors, and other staff. 46 elementary school teachers keep class sizes manageable along with other teachers in core middle and high school classrooms. It is basic funding, and it's baked into our school budget.

My middle and elementary school children love school. One's a little geeky, one's super-social. Total opposites. What they share though is a love of school and have had, with few exceptions, teachers they could connect with consistently. I've seen how teachers have matched each child with the style of teacher that works well with where they are at the time. Some years work better than others, but overall, both kids are learning and thriving. I'm grateful that we have parcel tax funds compensating for lower state funding and increasing enrollment so that there aren't more children in the classrooms as there are in many other less well-resourced districts around us.

Clearly, there are major areas for improvement: I follow the school board closely and am thrilled with the district's work to address some critical district issues around social-emotional wellness and academic performance of struggling kids. Parcel tax funds will pay to address some of these priorities. At the last board meeting Max McGee and the board agreed to spend funds from the reserves fund 2 more therapists at the high schools to address our mental health crisis. Reserve funds gets us started, but as he said, parcel tax funds are to be spent ongoing on mental health and social, emotional resources, including these hires.

The spending priorities are spot on for parcel tax funds. This is an easy YES for me.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:53 am

hey alphonso, [portion removed] The article discusses many ways to drop off your ballot in person, and many ways to register to vote by mail. At no place does it mention that you can vote without having received the ballot.

Alphonso, if you're of voting age, and have ever voted by mail before, you'll know that there are indeed lots of options for turning in your ballot, but you have to receive the material in the mail first.
[Portion removed.]

I wonder just how legal the election is if voting by mail is the only recourse, and the mailed out ballots are not sent out properly.


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Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:41 am

Parent

A Santa Clara County election phone number shown at the bottom of the article - as in any election you can call that number to get a replacement ballot, if your mail in ballot does not show up. Also if you forget to ask for a replacement ballot you can vote in person (also explained in the article) - when you are a vote by mail voter you will have to vote provisionally if you vote in person- that is if you walk in without your paper ballot. You can vote in person on election day or you can go in earlier than election day to vote. Most of your questions are answered in the last three paragraphs of the article. I hope that helps.


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Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:06 am

Dear voters,

The Registrar of Voters or the constituency holding the election can decide to hold a "mail only" election rather than staff precincts. When this decision is made, the ballots are sent with postage paid envelopes for their return. This is not a ploy of ballot measure supporters, but a way save costs and encourage people to vote.

•The districts that requested this election have decided to conduct it as an all-mail ballot election.
•All voters registered in the participating districts will automatically be mailed a ballot. It is not required to submit a Vote by Mail application or ballot request.
•Voted ballots must be received no later than 8:00 pm on Election Day OR postmarked on or before election day and received no later than three days after election day.
•There will be no polling places on Election Day.

Please see more information at
Web Link

To gain a better understanding of the election process, those of us who work at polling places encourage you to join us, even if only for one election. It's a great experience!


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Posted by ALPHONSO
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Just so there is no confusion - you can not vote in person in Palo Alto, but you can vote in person by driving down to the County election center in San Jose.


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

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