News

Guest Opinion: Tax renewal would protect Palo Alto school programs

 

Local voters have long supported the Palo Alto Unified School District to ensure we can provide a world-class education for all students. In fact, in 2010 more than 79 percent of voters supported the district's parcel tax proposal — Measure A — a proposal that was very similar in terms of timing, content and process to the measure our board of education approved last month for voters to consider this spring.

I pledge to make myself and my staff available to answer any questions that the community has related to our budget or the parcel-tax proposal.

By law, Measure A will expire next year and, if not renewed, our schools will lose close to $13 million, or about 7 percent of the school district's 2015-16 budget that is used to:

• Attract and retain qualified teachers.

• Keep core class sizes as small as possible.

• Support advanced programs in science, mathematics, and technology.

• Provide staffing for electives for high school students, including art, music and social sciences, that are important for a well-rounded education.

Given the impending expiration of our local school parcel-tax funding, we developed a detailed plan for continuing this important funding while also addressing current challenges and opportunities in our school district. First and foremost, this plan aims to preserve important programs that the parcel tax has supported for the past 13 years. For example, the current parcel tax funds about 80 teachers and 12 support staff. Parcel-tax revenue also is used to help offset losses in state funding, increasing costs and additional expenses related to current and future student enrollment growth.

While our local economy is thriving, home values are rising and revenue from property tax is increasing, additional revenue has been offset by a few factors beyond our control. First, over the past six years, enrollment in PAUSD schools has grown by more than 1,100 students and is projected to grow by another 700 students over the next five years. However, our schools receive no additional per-pupil funding to teach these additional students.

Moreover, state-mandated increased contributions to the pension systems and loss of lease revenue to support operations have also had an impact on our budget. In fact, when adjusted for inflation, PAUSD funding per student has not grown since 2008-09 and is below levels spent in many high-performing school districts in our region. Also, the board-mandated 10 percent reserve fund level is similar to statewide averages for school districts, and below that of some neighboring districts as well as reserves maintained by the city of Palo Alto.

Some members of the community have voiced concerns about the district's being too conservative in property-tax-revenue projections. I agree; moving forward, we will provide two projections, both a conservative and a moderate projection for property-tax growth. Even using aggressive projections of future property-tax-revenue growth, we would run a deficit if we provided only cost-of-living compensation adjustment for employees in order to retain quality staff. In other words, because of the impact of growing enrollment, the reduction of lease revenue and the addition of new state-mandated costs, our parcel-tax funding is critical for continuing to protect our current programs.

In addition to simply maintaining our renowned academic excellence and long history of sound fiscal management, we must provide more supports for students — students struggling with health and wellness issues as well as with academics.

At the same time, our students and community have asked us to invest further in innovative and meaningful programs to further engage our students in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) and to prepare them for college and 21st-century careers. Specific examples of programs and services in these areas are listed on our website.

It is with this vision in mind that the board of education voted unanimously to place a parcel-tax renewal measure on the ballot this spring. If approved by local voters, this measure will extend the current parcel tax for six years and increase the rate by $120 — $10 per month.

Because none of the money from this measure can be taken away by the state or by other school districts, all the money raised by this measure will stay here in our local community to be used by our local schools. It is important to note:

• These funds cannot be used for administrators' salaries, benefits or pensions.

• An independent oversight committee and mandatory annual audits will make sure the money is spent properly.

• Senior citizens will continue to be eligible for an exemption, and PAUSD will offer exemptions to all persons eligible under the law.

Extending the parcel tax is a critical decision our community must make this spring. All registered voters in Palo Alto Unified School District will receive a ballot in early April to vote on this measure. Ballots must be returned to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters by May 5.

I look forward to sharing the details of my vision and our plan with our community. If you have any questions or comments about this measure, please contact me at mmcgee@pausd.org or by calling 650-329-3737.

Glenn "Max" McGee is superintendent of the Palo Alto Unified School District.

Comments

35 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:53 am

Baloney. This tax is to protect income and benefits of adults.


6 people like this
Posted by Since you are reading this...
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:07 am

[Post removed.]


17 people like this
Posted by The New Skelly
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:12 am

No.


18 people like this
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:04 am

I just don't get the resistance to Measure A. I don't have any children in Palo Alto schools. My son went to school in Sunnyvale and graduated high school there. But I am a resident of this city and wish the children who live here to have every advantage possible. I am more than willing to pay the parcel tax. It's the right thing to do.


18 people like this
Posted by muttiallen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:15 am

muttiallen is a registered user.

PAUSD has more money/student than almost any other district in the state. $758 for about 20,000 parcels is about $15 million more each year. I'm a big fan of supporting schools -- especially those who need it. Since I'm a senior citizen now, I'm going to claim my exemption from PAUSD and write a check every year to Ravenswood for $758. I hope a lot of other seniors will do the same.


31 people like this
Posted by FrustratedParent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:17 am

Dear Dr. McGee,

What is you plan to remove problem teachers, the Principals who support them and District staff who work against the best interest of students?

How do you intend to regain the trust of a community that has seen teacher "inconsistency", pressure, intimidation and retaliation in the classroom?

What is your plan to separate the 15% trouble teachers from the outstanding teachers? How can the public be assured of a quality teacher and a safe school for our kids?

[Portion removed.]

Thank you sincerely for your answer,
Frustrated Parent


19 people like this
Posted by Gunn Mom
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:18 am

I support Measure A. Maintaining smaller class sizes, maintaining library staff, increasing counselor availability for students is critically important, especially now.

As a long-time supporter of excellence in PAUSD education, I support Measure A. The few arguments I've heard against it defy logic and reflect misunderstanding of both the measure and PAUSD governance.

Please join me in voting YES on measure A.


36 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:20 am

No on "A" or any other school tax boondoggles until there is accountability from the school district. Member has it right. This is a tax to protect income and benefits for adults.


34 people like this
Posted by It's the TRUST, Stupid!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:33 am

I am 1000% with "frustrated parent"

I voted for all the last bond measures, but not this one.

When I read this from McGee, I absolutely cringe: "I pledge to make myself and my staff available to answer any questions that the community has related to our budget or the parcel-tax proposal."

And here's where the problem starts. I like McGee, and I know he means well. But making people available to answer questions when the answers come from people who wouldn't know honesty if it met them in hell for lying doesn't help. I wouldn't trust any answer from his staff, so I'm not going to bother asking on this one, I'm just going to vote NO. He has people working under him who have too much history of untrustworthy behavior with too much of this community.

We also had many verbal promises made in the last bond measures. But when the rubber meets the road, they'll point back to the written bond and only the written bond -- and will say they never promised whatever it is you made your decision based on because the bond is very vague. Even when the bond isn't very vague, even when it promises something specific, it's my experience they will still do whatever they want and point out the specific weasel language that let them not make good on the bond promise.


45 people like this
Posted by Former Gunn Mom
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:41 am

I am voting no on Measure A. My kids went to Gunn. I was active in PTA and went to site council meetings. Parents tried to establish consistent homework grading practices (so that kids were treated equally no matter who the teacher was) within departments with only pushback from teachers (they felt it was giving up to much flexibility). Parents and students cannot file negative reviews about teachers because the kid is then labeled as a problem and it only gets worse--believe me--it happened to my kid!

Every time there is a little bit of wiggle room in the budget, teachers get a raise and EVERY teachers gets the same raise--no merit or evidence of performance is required--just behave, get tenure, and show up for work. Even the worst teachers get the same raise as the best teachers. Only profession I know where you can negatively affect kids lives, stay employed, and even get a raise for doing it.

Until the time comes where teachers are held accountable for their performance, I will not vote for any more taxes to support a broken system.


28 people like this
Posted by It's the TRUST, Stupid!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:45 am

@Sylvia,
We all want the children living here to have every advantage possible. Unfortunately, our district literally has no mechanisms for checks and balances on the school district except very rare elections. We have many district administrators who are compensated better than the Governor of California. But no mechanism to rein back the excessive top-heaviness and make sure the money goes to the children and teachers, or even ensure those at the top perform well, short of elections.

There is still plenty of evidence that the new superintendent has not connected with the needs and frustrations of the community to solve what has now become a crisis in our schools, especially the retaining of people directly working with him who have underperformed for years and have seriously undermined trust with the parent community. They buried their heads in the sand instead of doing whatever was necessary for our kids the last time, and more lives were lost, and thousands of kids suffered depression since, if the district's own data is correct. McGee is still acting like that will just work itself out if he does nothing about the staff/trust problem. Some parents have tried to tell him about the staff, but he works everyday with them, no way would upset parents ever overcome that.

The only message he cannot ignore is a NO at the ballot box.

As the Weekly editorial says, there is a whole year to come back and ask again if this one is voted down, so there really are no potential downsides except extra work by volunteers (including me) if it doesn't pass. But if it is voted down, the district will have to respond, and how they respond will either benefit our kids where nothing else has been able to reach them, or it will galvanize the public to take things to the next level as far as advocacy to solve things. And then we can vote ourselves funds that are better targeted to help anyway.

There is a mail-in ballot only, so it's important for people to get their ballots filled out and mailed soon. I heard there was even a stamp on the ballots.


43 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:01 pm

The reason I will vote no:

1. All parcel taxes are regressive in nature. Those who own very small homes or condos pay the same amount as HP or other companies with large parcels and the same as homeowners with much larger and/or more valuable properties.

2. The salaries for most teachers in the PAUSD are higher than mine and many receive automatic step increases (raises) every year -- why should I be required to subsidize the income of those with greater resources than my own?

3. To say that none of the income from the parcel tax will be used to pay administrative salaries is misleading. If you have a pot of income that covers one area, it frees up money for another. Administrative wages in the PAUSD are insane.

4. The superintendent's statement "$10/mo" is intentionally misleading. Yes, that is the increase, but the true cost is 6 times that. Statements like these, partial truths, do not engender trust. ~$750 is a significant sum for many in Palo Alto; not everyone is wealthy.

4. As a (working) senior eligible for a waiver, it seems unfair to vote for a tax that others will have to pay but from which I am exempt.


26 people like this
Posted by It's the TRUST
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:03 pm

"long history of sound fiscal management,"

Dear Dr. McGee,

How much money does 25 Churchill cost us? Please break down totals for administrative salaries and overhead (and how many administrators that buys us), as well as all other costs of administration. Thank you.


58 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Of course I am for smaller class sizes and all sorts of benefits to our children.

I have been a PAUSD parent for a long time. I see so much good that directly affects our children, but I see so much money squandered that I can't justify that this is for the children.

McGee has just been to Singapore with several lucky students all paid by me. We keep getting more and more administrators at Churchill to do things I am not too sure about, and it is paid for by me.

When McGee was interviewed out of state, it involved a plethora of PAUSD people flying out there, staying in hotels, probably eating and claiming expenses, all paid for by me.

I see legal battles, lawyers fees, PR coverups, etc. etc. all paid for by me.

If I saw some financial caution at the top, I might feel differently. If I saw the District cutting expenses at Churchill, I might feel differently. If I even saw an extra administrator at our ever growing elementary schools (do they still have only one principal and two clerical positions as they did when they were half the size?), I might feel differently. If I saw a few school nurses traveling between the clusters of elementary schools, I might feel differently. If I entered the office of one of the secondary schools and managed found a busy staff instead of staff members standing around chatting or looking bored, I might feel differently.

But no, I see that any possible cuts have to be teachers, not administrators. I see the possibility of cuts in programs, not administrative expenses. I see threats of increased class sizes, not cuts of District spending at any level.

Where is the belt tightening really happening? We will still have an ever increasing enrollment with higher property taxes producing more income for PAUSD. I just would like them to be more prudent with the money I already give them.


23 people like this
Posted by beginlookingforward@gmail.com
a resident of University South
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Here's the conundrum regarding the parcel tax; supplemental funds are needed to maintain the high quality of our schools and the programs they offer. My concern is how this parcel tax has gone up for renewal.

Why renew early? - rather than abide by the prior election. This is what the people voted on. Is this so easily dismissed?

Why increase? - it is assumed that since we are in a prosperous community that everyone can afford to pay more and more. Not only will this parcel tax increase the amount - but no one has addressed the cumulative tax burden that seems to be increasing each and every year. Including, the PAUSD bond tax, that also most assuredly will go up for renewal. There remains a lack of clarity on exactly what the new tax will be - it has been deceptively worded at every chance possible giving the impression that the increase is minimal. The amount of tax paid yearly will increase substantially from the beginning of the tax 5 years ago to what will be the ending amount if this measure passes. That difference is not insignificant.

There is a bit of arrogance attached to this parcel tax and a lack of awareness that yes this is a generous community that strongly believes in education but there are limits and there should be reasonableness in PAUSD expectations. There is an assumption that because there has been no official opposition that this measure would quietly and easily pass.

Tax revenues are up - significantly. PAUSD budget reserves are substantial. Whatever programs PAUSD proposes they will add due to this parcel tax do not require an early renewal and increased funds.

This district has a habit of promising and not delivering when it comes to mental health, counseling, and student assistance programs. In fact it's been part of their strategic plan for the last 18 years and 2 previous superintendents. Even after several emotionally tragic years, the talk has been ongoing with little to real no change. I think they need to first spend a bit of capital (personal and financial) to insure they will move forward with their proposals and then ask for more support.

A new superintendent ( who appears to be doing a fine job ) does not assure change or support, particularly from teachers union which is a ongoing challenge. Not only is Palo Alto a privileged community, so are the teachers. Yes - there are many are wonderful teachers, absolutely the best, who put students first. But there are also many simply putting in their time, who have been given quick tenure, who are in positions beyond their ability and no effective way to address non performance issues.

As I said a conundrum - to vote yes or no - a bit of a reality check might be in order before this measure passes.


3 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:37 pm

@ above poster: Measure A does not "renew early"...if you're saying that the increase is implemented immediately. If approved, the new parcel tax would not start until after the current parcel tax expires.

The PAUSD BoE is just trying to get the new/replacement parcel tax approved ASAP. They have created a buffer of time so that if it fails in this election, they still will have time to send up another parcel tax request before the current parcel tax expires.

Editor's Note: The above statement is incorrect; the new tax will replace the current tax immediately if it passes. If it fails, the current tax will remain in effect until next year.


12 people like this
Posted by PA denizen
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:05 pm

I am both puzzled and frustrated by many of the comments that I have read in this thread. I get that certain vocal (at least enough to write a comment) folks claim that the district is not working well enough not to reauthorize the parcel tax. Especially when they are discussing issues which touch on a fraction of the districts' students (Gunn HS students, for example). There are over 11,000 students across many schools (elementary, middle, HS). By voting no, the voter is sending a message that elementary school class size is not important enough? I would like to send the message that while the HS population is important to the district, we have more kids in elementary and middle school. Why do we want to shortchange that population? Vote YES and work with the administration.


11 people like this
Posted by beginlookingforward@gmail.com
a resident of University South
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:35 pm

to cresent park dad - as per paonline Jan. 28/29 and editor's note

"If approved, the new parcel tax will go into effect immediately and replace the current tax, which is set to expire in June 2016."

So yes its an early renewal.

And to clarify what I meant by deceptive explanations regarding amount of increase;

The parcel tax was passed at the amount of $589. The ongoing description says the renewed tax would be $120. above the CURRENT rate, which is $638. ( as there is a annual 2% increase).

So what started as a tax of $589. will end up at around $836. (or close to it).
Unless they choose to renew early.

Like I said this is an important part of our school funding but the process lacks integrity and requires a bit more show and little less tell.


22 people like this
Posted by question
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Dr Max McGee,

The 2014 PAUSD budget book shows a budget of $180 million. Of that budget amount, $108 million is spent on the schools - teachers, principals, support staff. $72 million is spent on other.

If Measure A does not pass, are you stating that you will cut $13 million from spending on schools - teachers, principals and support staff, and keep spending $72 million on other? if not, tell us where the cuts will be - be transparent on how you are prioritizing spending money.

There was a surplus revenue from property taxes over what was predicted from previous budget cycles, and based on projections from the City of Palo Alto, the district will continue to see increasing surpluses; if Measure A does not pass, how much will these surpluses make up for the $13 million?

PAEA, the teacher's union leader, stated that "one size does not fit all" when it comes to using a common tool to assess homework load. Will you commit, in the coming contact negotiations to make the use of a common tool for homework assignments a deal breaker in those contact negotiations?

Speaking of "one size fits all", we all know there are great teachers and poor teachers, and therefore "one size fits all" pay policy doesn't work. Will you commit to a pay for performance for teachers? (No more step increases, no more extra raises for taking courses, etc).

Since you decided to use the PA Weekly as a forum for communicating, and you state in your editoral "I pledge to make myself and my staff available to answer any questions that the community has related to our budget or the parcel-tax proposal.", and you do have a highly paid PR person on staff, we all are expecting a response to our questions in this forum - and hopefully before we vote on our ballots for Measure A.


17 people like this
Posted by NO!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:31 pm

I've been in Palo Alto for 20+ years now. Its always the same tactic- empty promises because voters have short memories! We are one of the highest $/student district. Lets ask them to justify all the district overheads, multiple assistant principals, district coordinators , etc.

Recently, March 31, there was a board meeting to approve additional hires with the extra property tax budgeted:

Web Link

This is post from another reader:
Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:16 am
Nearly all of this is admin support. Very little goes to helping students. Yes, they try to say that adding admin gives others more time for students. Bunch of BS.

The article says, "the largest chunk, $600,000, to fund an additional full-time Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) who would provide math and literacy support for all of Palo Alto's 13 elementary schools." Makes it sound like a lot is going to support the students. Buth, they then go on to say, "In addition, each elementary site would receive a part-time staff member to "to support their schools as determined by site needs," a staff report reads." So, another 13 administrators to support the schools is included in that $600K figure.

Also included:
- $358,864 to pay for three additional TOSAs to support staff during the transition to new state standards'
- $363,156 would fund additional middle school administrative support
- $157,905, ,,, assistant principal who would "perform administrative support duties
- $133,253 two additional classified staff members at the high schools to perform clerical and secretarial duties
- $142,862 for new student research coordinator who would "design, develop, deliver, and evaluate electives for high school students
- $100,000 to bring the three middle schools' health technicians on full time

They're also approving $2.9M in additional pay. Just today, I saw an update where McGee is proposing to add $250,000 in mental health support. Parents, lets continue to force our district to be accountable. NO MORE MONEY till Mcgee clean up the district office.

NO on Measure A! Let them be accountable with the extra property tax!


10 people like this
Posted by ME
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:34 pm

I have tried for many years to find out where the money from the sale of elementary schools went. The "new" residents probably don't even know that some of the schools were sold and mega-houses built on the sites. I could never, ever get an snswer as to where those funds went....invested? Was the money used later to buy portables for the remaining elementary schools when the youth population grew again? Poor planning and/or foresight! I will never vote yes or, as a senior citizen now, pay the tax of $700+.


6 people like this
Posted by HR
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:46 pm

GOOD LUCK WITH PUBLIC ANSWERS QUESTION...

"I look forward to sharing the details of my vision and our plan with our community. If you have any questions or comments about this measure, please contact me at mmcgee@pausd.org or by calling 650-329-3737."


18 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Eric Rosenblum is a registered user.

I would like to hear from our elected officials: do they support Measure A? Why/ Why not?

I believe that I am on mailing lists for most (if not all) city council members. I got a passionate letter of support from Councilmember Berman (who was apparently one of the "lawnsign coordinators" for the last parcel tax measure, before he was a Councilmember. I haven't seen statements from others.

This is an opportunity for our leaders to provide leadership. It would be great to hear from more of them publicly.


19 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Apr 10, 2015 at 4:18 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Eric, that is a great suggestion.

I know that all nine council members endorsed Measure A.

So hearing their reasons would be helpful to voters since they do no always agree unanimously on issues.


13 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 7:15 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

I find it discouraging that all nine City Council members have (reportedly) endorsed the tax. I would have like to have had some say that they didn't know enough about the merits, pro and cons, to make an endorsement carrying the weight of their official positions. The problem of the herd mentality (accommodation endorsements,...) is well-known. A previous Council's endorsement of the High Speed Rail bond measure is a good example of this: Council members didn't even bother to consider what had been prominently featured in the local newspapers.

My problem with poorly considered endorsements is that it encourages one/both sides to focus on the bandwagon effect for winning an election, and voters like me who want to see good pro-and-con arguments get short-changed. I often find it most telling and informative how each side responds to the other's arguments, but in an endorsement-based campaign, there is often little of that.


7 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:16 pm

Alphonso is a registered user.

D. Moran

Perhaps there are no good con arguments. Anybody who knows anything about budgeting will tell you that a defeat of this measure will have a significant negative impact on the schools. I do not know if they need all of the money but if you remove 7% of the revenue from any school district budget there will be major cuts - fewer teacher, fewer aids and less education.


19 people like this
Posted by BLoney
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:18 pm

This city, and this school district, are awash in $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. This is BS!


20 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:50 pm

The district's campaign for this tax has been built on some systematic efforts to misrepresent the situation.

1. The superintendent refers to the "impending expiration of our local school parcel-tax funding". The word "impending" gives the impression that this tax is just about to expire, and this is false. The current tax has another year. In fact, this election is a year early!

2. The superintendent also tells us that this will "increase the rate by $120 — $10 per month" But that is just the INCREASE. The current tax is $638 per parcel already. So the $120 will push us up to $758. But when has the district mentioned this total of $758 in its advertising?

The fact is that this entire campaign has been organized to win the election by some manipulative practices including the following:

1. "Messaging" including things that give the wrong impression such as the above. Talk about the small increase, not the huge overall size.
2. A mail-only election with nothing else on the ballot. The district's consultants have told them that this is the best way to focus their supporters and gain victory, rather than risking a general election with many more voters.
3. Asking for a new tax a year early allows the district to ask for a whopping increase this year and still have a chance for renewal next year. They get two shots at this thing.
4. Only last week, letters went out to senior citizens giving them the opportunity to exempt themselves from the tax. The letters also contained a pitch to vote for the new tax. Real nice, get the seniors' votes while letting them off of the hook for paying! Yes, this is legal, but look how blatant the district is being about this.




31 people like this
Posted by Charlies Angel
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:56 pm

Voted NO on this because of the teachers union's horrible resistance to Schoology.


27 people like this
Posted by No Dough Without Schoology
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:03 pm

Voted NO on this because of the teachers union's horrible resistance to Schoology.


21 people like this
Posted by Dad in support of A
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 11, 2015 at 7:49 am

Enough already with all the anger, attacks, & threats! You guys should be ashamed of yourself. The main purpose of our parcel tax is and has always been to keep class sizes as small as possible & to provide choices via electives, and full time librarians at all schools. These are fundamental basic needs of our schools that have been in place for 14 years yet you are willing to throw this out & affecting every one of our students negatively because you want the administration to do exactly what you want right now. Listen to yourselves! You claim you want what's best for our youth, yet you are voting to provide less individual attention, larger class sizes, less support, less counselors, less resources all together!? How can we demand more of our district yet tie their hands with less resources?! Holding our district hostage is not the solution! The only way that we will make the needed changes, that those of you who sound rational are asking for, is to come together & work together. Lots of positive changes are already happening & in progress. It would be a huge step backwards if Measure A is defeated. Please take a deep breat & look at the big picture. If you are too angry to trust & listen to our superintendent, then please listen to Ken Dauber & Pat Burt who get the issues & who are working tirelessly to resolve them (with much success) yet who also stay solid in their support of Measure A.


21 people like this
Posted by PLEASE STOP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:07 am

Thank you to the "Dad in support of A" for your refreshing voice of reason on here. It's hugely concerning that our heartbroken community has turned into a revenge-seeking angry mob who is willing to sacrifice support of our students/schools to somehow send a message. I am a psychologist (& parent) and understand that it's easier to be angry than sad, but this madness is counterproductive & has to stop now. Of course we should all vote yes on A. Of course taking away resources is not the answer. Investing additional resources for our students who are struggling while continuing to communicate with our education leaders about policy changes needed to reduce student stress is the only way to move forward & resolve this crisis.


10 people like this
Posted by mbcaswell@yahoo.com
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 9:06 am

If the current tax is allowed to expire, the district will lose nearly $13 million in revenue ( This represents 7% of the general fund budget. Since 2008, this is more than PAUSD gets from the State and the Federal Government). This tax fully funds 85 full-time staff of which 67 are teachers specifically allocated for class size reduction, others include psychologists, librarians, and counselors. Without these funds, the district will struggle to provide reasonable class sizes, our current counseling program, and the enrichment classes ( art, music, theater, etc) that make school meaningful for many students.

Furthermore, $2.3M in new money from this tax is earmarked to invest in new programs to 1) support students who are struggling academically and socio-emotionally, and 2) invest in some new meaningful STEAM programs to better engage students and expand their opportunities.

Spending on this tax is monitored by an independent oversight committee and reviewed by an independent auditor. For the past 13 years ( since the tax was put in place) these independent groups have reported that the funds from this tax have been spent as promised to the community.

Taking away this funding is not going to be an effective way to address concerns. Less funds will not help us solve problems, it will only reduce the District's ability to make improvements to support students, and that will only undermine students who do not have the resources to get academic and socio-emotional support outside of school.


10 people like this
Posted by Do right by the kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 9:25 am

If you care about the quality of Palo Alto’s public schools, you should vote yes on Measure A. After adjusting for the high cost of living in the Bay Area, Palo Alto spends less per student than the average school district around the US – and much less than some comparable high-performing school districts. Measure A dollars are critically important and allow PAUSD to reduce class sizes, offer more electives, and provide additional assistance to struggling and at-risk students. That, in turn, is key to the fact that Palo Alto is one of the best public school districts in California and the nation.

If there is something about our public schools you don’t find satisfactory, voting no on Measure A is not a solution. Talking to the school board members and the superintendent is the solution, not voting no on a measure that benefits every single student who attends our public schools. If Measure A becomes a hostage to every person and every group advocating for one cause or another, we’ll never be able to pass a parcel tax in Palo Alto, and all the students will suffer as a result. So vote yes on Measure A – it’s the right thing to do for the students and the community as a whole.


12 people like this
Posted by STEAM BS
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 9:45 am

Can we please cut the BS on STEAM?

We know the schools have been STEM obsessed and adding the A her means what??

Suggestion for A - teach English better. How to read and write.

Or actually put real money into the Arts if you are TAKING money to do that, instead of stuffing it back to STEM - the Singapore research trip, or the research olympiad staff position.

And "programs" without numbers or a discipline about PRIORITIES is just random spending.

I think we should be cutting programs from the "new programs" list unless they are 100% for mental and emotional student health.

And what about counseling. That is what PIE always asks money for every year!

mbcaswell@yahoo.com,

Please provide exactly how much counseling costs at each school, what part is paid by PAUSD and what part PIE.

And how much of the tax is going for counseling.




10 people like this
Posted by Suzie Provo
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 11, 2015 at 11:03 am

Whoa! Let's look at the big picture here. The schools deserve support and that is sometimes financial as well as in participation. Please don't get caught up in negative comments and postings against Measure A. One way or another, we ALL benefit from the excellence of our schools being a big part of why people choose to live here. I urge you to support Measure A! I raised 4 children here who have all graduated from the Palo Alto schools and I support the continued funding and improvement of our excellent school district. Please join me in voting YES on Measure A.
Many thanks, neighbors!
Suzie Provo


17 people like this
Posted by Current parent with closer view
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 11:19 am

@Do Right,
Now you are just scare mongering. In the Weekly's own editorial on the measure, they reminded us of voters voting diwn a previous measure and then voting through a reworked one.

mbcaswell,
"Less funds will not help us solve problems, it will only reduce the District's ability to make improvements to support students, and that will only undermine students who do not have the resources to get academic and socio-emotional support outside of school."

More funds will not solve problems either if you don't restore trust and cull the admin office of people like Charles Young. You could replace "less funds" above with, "Continuing to cover for the likes of Young and Carrillo".

@stop
Please let us know who you are so we never go to you when we have problems needing solutions that you will just slap with a mental health label. If you don't like that people feel they have no other way to send a msg the administration can't ignore, then help advocate for families to have more substantial say and ability to leverage checks and balances. The board has the power to create such rules. Currently all parents can so is waste their time waiting to talk to the hand for no more than three minutes some evening at 25 Churchill. Or go to the OCR under very limited circumstances.


To everyone considering voting no: Please write a note right after you seal your ballot. State why you voted NO. State what would have caused you to vote YES, or what what will cause you to in the next ballot if this one fails. Make a copy. Send one to 25 Churchill, and the other to the Weekly. Leave it anonymous if you feel you must, but please state why you felt you had to in your note. If the Weekly gets a lot of such notes, whether the measure passes or fails, at least the analysis will be accurate afterwards, and the district will know what it has to do to get to yes. If you want to send a message, take a moment to actually send the message.

If the measure does not pass, the district still has a year and more than one election to get it right and put through another ask.


13 people like this
Posted by STEAM BS
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 11:29 am

Suzie,

The big picture is that resource allocation (where our money goes) will either help or hurt to make student lives better.

Piling on more money to STEM is random. I have not heard any doctors asking for money for STEM - which in Silicon Valley is the equivalent of fretting in Hollywood about kids understanding the movie business.

I don't trust the way priorities are set, and worst I don't trust what the district says it will do, but then does something else. Some numbers could help - at least some percentages when they throw out the "program" term. What percentage to reduce class size, what percentage for Libraries, what percentage for "STEAM" and what percentage to counseling?


9 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Nixon School
on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:09 pm

To Eric Rosenblum's question — the list of public leaders and elected officials supporting Measure A is long. Here's just a partial list that I saw in Friday's edition of the Weekly:

League of Women Voters of Palo Alto
Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce
Palo Alto Council of PTAs
Silicon Valley Leadership Group
Palo Alto Forward
PAUSD Board of Education
Santa Clara County School Boards Association
Palo Alto Educators Association
California School Employees Association

Jerry Hill, California State Senator, 13th Senate District
Rich Gordon, California Assemblymember, 24th Assembly District
Joe Simitian, Supervisor, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, Former California State Senator, Former Palo Alto Mayor
Karen Holman, Mayor, City of Palo Alto
Greg Schmid, Vice Mayor, City of Palo Alto
Marc Berman, Council Member, City of Palo Alto & Director, Silicon Valley Education Foundation
Pat Burt, Council Member, City of Palo Alto
Tom DuBois, Council Member, City of Palo Alto
Eric Filseth, Council Member, City of Palo Alto
Liz Kniss, Council Member & Former Mayor, City of Palo Alto
Greg Scharff, Council Member, City of Palo Alto
Cory Wolbach, Council Member, City of Palo Alto
Gary Kremen, Director & Board Chair, Santa Clara Valley Water District
Peter Drekmeier, Former Mayor, City of Palo Alto
Sid Espinosa, Former Mayor, City of Palo Alto
Yoriko Kishimoto, Former Mayor, City of Palo Alto
Judy Kleinberg, Former Mayor, City of Palo Alto
Jean McCown, Former Mayor, City of Palo Alto
Vic Ojakian, Former Mayor, City of Palo Alto
Nancy Shepherd, Former Mayor, City of Palo Alto
Lanie Wheeler, Former Mayor, City of Palo Alto
Gail Price, Former Council Member, City of Palo Alto
Bern Beecham, Former Council Member, City of Palo Alto

Pretty impressive!


24 people like this
Posted by Current Parent with closerr view
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:28 pm

For an election like this, endorsements are really pretty meaningless. Like who is going to commit political suicide by coming out publicly against a school bond measure in this town? If it is voted down, it will have been for a reason, and those who endorsed it aren't going to look bad for having endorsed it. But if it is voted through, only bad publicity will result for that politician. They are all asked - how could any of them say no?

It does seem to me that people's stance on this election is a rough measure of how much they trust the district. It sure seems like the amount of trust is generally inversely proportional to how well people (non-insiders) are acquainted with today's district.


19 people like this
Posted by Frustrated Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2015 at 1:46 pm

@Do Right tries to admonish us into supporting a broken system: "Talking to the school board members and the superintendent is the solution,"

But what if we tried that and it doesn't work? Voting No on Measure A


27 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Okay, so I've said I have two conditions for voting for A--one should be met--elimination of the academic zero period. So what about no. 2?

No. 2 is all about getting the homework load at the high schools under control and in line with previously established district policy. The easiest way to monitor this would be by getting all high-school teachers on Schoology. But the teachers' union is getting in the way of that.

So, let's make this easy--according to an article in another publication, current compliance at Gunn with Schoology is 50 percent. Not good enough.

You want my money teachers? Get Schoology compliance up to 80 percent--you don't need your union's permission to do that--though the very least the union could do is drop the damn grievance--for its own sake--it's terrible PR.

I'm a mellow parent--a B really is okay with me--so 80 percent compliance and you'll get my "yes" vote. Because right now, you're flunking out and are looking at retaking the class and trying again next year.

Oh, and yes, the lack of compliance with Schoology and Hermann's request makes me wonder just what you're hiding.


7 people like this
Posted by Yes
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:57 pm

I really don't understand the no arguments for Measure A. If you lIve in PA and decide not to support Parel Tax, that is just wrong!


18 people like this
Posted by Frustrated Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2015 at 3:28 pm

I really don't understand the yes arguments for Measure A. If you lIve in PA and decide not to support The well being, safety and mental health of students, that is just wrong!


11 people like this
Posted by Voting No now, Yes later
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 11, 2015 at 3:43 pm


@mbcaswell@yahoo.com

I am going to vote NO this time and if the price is right, I will vote Yes the next time.


20 people like this
Posted by Fool Me Once
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 6:34 pm

@mbcaswell writes:
"If there is something about our public schools you don't find satisfactory, voting no on Measure A is not a solution. Talking to the school board members and the superintendent is the solution..."

No it's not. You, Ms. Caswell did nothing about Schoology for 8 years despite an outpouring if support for it. You kept wanting the teachers to want to change.

Withholding the funds seems to have got your attention. Now let's see you deliver. Else it's going down in FLAMES.


11 people like this
Posted by Child advocate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:00 pm

I'm voting YES on Measure A because I think that arguments among adults should not lead to shortchanging our kids. I want smaller classes, better social/emotional support for all students, better support for struggling students, engaging classes for middle and high school students, and the kind of arts programs that have been stripped from so many other California schools. If we want strong schools, we have to pay for them. If you have a beef with how the money is used, then volunteer to serve on the oversight commission that is authorized by the parcel tax. Telling people to vote no to demonstrate anger is like a preschooler stamping his foot and holding his breath till his face turns blue. What is the point? Saying that the district should then spend money for a second election and marshall hundreds of volunteers to help with it all over again is ridiculous and a colossal waste of resources. There is a reason why our property values are so high and why people go to such lengths to send their kids to Palo Alto schools instead of schools in other districts. VOTE YES!


24 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Child Advocate,

I do care about the kids--but I was around for the last suicide cluster and I hate seeing it happen again while nothing changes. I'd prefer to vote "yes" on a school bond, but there needs to be a good faith effort on the part of the district to address the destructive environment in our high schools. McGee's promised to move ahead on one thing, now I need the teachers to step up to the plate on Schoology so we can get real data on the homework loads at the high school.

Unfortunately, money talks when other things don't. I want an end to kids killing themselves; to 200-plus kids being considered high-risk for suicide attempts; to a large minority of high-school kids showing indications of serious depression. I want more than cursory lip service given to changing the school environment.

In some ways, I'm not sure what terrible thing you think will happen if the bond doesn't happen. Terrible things have already happened--when kids are killing themselves on the train tracks, intimations of gloom and doom ring pretty hollow.


21 people like this
Posted by Rex
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:43 pm

A special single issue ballot in Palo Alto costs something close to $600,000. Similar to the Maybell ballot the city put on the ballot not so long ago.

PAUSD didn't need to put this on the ballot now as the existing parcel tax doesn't expire for a few more years. Why now? To encourage the yes only vote, which would be diluted in a general election with more things on the ballot drawing a broader profile, and more representative cross section of Palo Alto voters.

I recall not so many weeks ago at a school board meeting that PSUSD revealed that they were benefiting from one of, if not the largest, increases in property tax revenues in history, and that a binge of hiring would ensue. The next message was that they were poor, and of course, if the ballot measure were to fail, the usual suspects would suffer; libraries would be closed and class size would swell. Churchill Ave of course, is untouchable.

We're rich! We're poor. We don't want too many voters voting, but we are sure we want your money.


8 people like this
Posted by Current parent with closer view
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 10:35 pm

@Rex,
That's very interesting, since I recall the difference in cost between a special election and coinciding with the general was on the order of $500,000. Who approved that? Was there a cost comparison provided to the public?


16 people like this
Posted by Fool Me Once
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 10:40 pm

@mbcaswell writes:
"If there is something about our public schools you don't find satisfactory, voting no on Measure A is not a solution. Talking to the school board members and the superintendent is the solution..."

No it's not. You, Ms. Caswell did nothing about Schoology for 8 years despite an outpouring of support for it. You kept wanting the teachers to want to change and showed no leadership.

Withholding the funds seems to have gotten your attention. Now let's see you deliver. Else it's going down in FLAMES.


16 people like this
Posted by Frustrated Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2015 at 10:55 pm

@ Rex Alaska: "PAUSD didn't need to put this on the ballot now as the existing parcel tax doesn't expire for a few more years. Why now?"

Easy - they thought they could leverage the current crisis, add some mental health language and use this tragedy to drum up money for the union & teachers.

It backfired because they lack political acumen and a sense of accountability. They didn't realize the depth of mistrust they have accumulated.

Vote No on Measure A


Like this comment
Posted by Melissa please.
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 11:14 pm

[Post removed.]


23 people like this
Posted by Frustrated Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2015 at 12:42 am

"Talking to the school board members and the superintendent is the solution"


Tried that. Doesn't work. You don't DO anything, and continue to allow retaliation in the schools. So approaching the schools to change has become actually dangerous. Life threateningly dangerous if the retaliation pushes your kid over the edge.

Much better to vote No on Measure A.

Maybe you'll figure out how to serve your constituents, and maybe the teachers union will learn that students and parents are THE CUSTOMER.

But I doubt it.


18 people like this
Posted by Frustrated Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2015 at 12:53 am

@mbcasswell writes:"If the current tax is allowed to expire, the district will lose nearly $13 million in revenue..."and a bunch more woes about the school

A few problems with this post -

- I doubt this is from Ms. Cassswell, wouldn't she have a PAUSD email address? It looks made-up.


- this long rambling post expends needless energy telling us about YOUR problems. But some of us don't give a shit about your problems. You represent us . You should be able to identify OUR problems, and tell us what you intend to do to fix the broken schools .

That is how you win votes . And you need to convince 66% of them votes, so chop-chop! Time to get to work not ignoring us any more...



Vote No on Measure A


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2015 at 7:59 am

I sincerely hope that if and when (hopefully) this doesn't pass, Churchill and the Board will start making changes to their spendthrift ways at the top and not pass it down to the children.

I am tired of my money being spent on frill and not my kids.

I would like to know how much of each $1 of property tax goes to educating the kids and how much gets spent on frills, trips abroad, lawyers fees, administrators at Churchill, trips to other parts of the country, etc. etc. etc.


27 people like this
Posted by NO!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2015 at 9:03 am

I've been living in Palo Alto for the past 20+ years! We've been thru a lot! This is the first time I will be voting against
any tax increase. I will share with you why.... keep in mind everything I am sharing with you, I've observed or seen with my own eyes!

I've observed an alarming trend of prescribing ADHD and anti-depressant drugs to our youths in elementary schools because they can't sit or behave when told at the demands of teachers. I've seen increasing administrators placed in our schools without specific/measurable job descriptions. I've seen middle school classes dismissed because teachers didn't show up. I've seen Gunn switch counselors on their seniors during their most stressful time of college applications! I've seen our high school administrators tell students "NOT to share this with your parents because we certainly don't want anymore helicopter parents!". I've seen our high school administrators walk around all morning, chat, and have coffee while students sit and wait for appointments!

I understand a lot of younger students' parents claim that this is not their concerns. I'd think you would want to know since your kids are about to go thru what we've been thru already! Work with us to improve our schools! Demand changes! Advocate for our students!

Vote NO on Measure A! Don't fall for their tactic of "empty promises because voters have short memories!".
Thanks for listening!


24 people like this
Posted by Angry mom
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 12, 2015 at 10:51 am

No on measure A as long as Phil Winston draws a paycheck. No tax dollars for sexual harassers!


21 people like this
Posted by Tired of being Ignored
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2015 at 12:07 pm

@mbcaswell

You make excellent points as to why the parcel tax should be supported, HOWEVER, the problem is that many of us in the community feel we have been ignored, brushed off, and disrespected by the Board, the Administrators at Churchill, and the Teacher's Union for the past several years. Furthermore, despite the fact that the Board realized, or should have realized, that a significant portion of the community has been disappointed in your actions you have chose to raise the amount of the parcel tax.

Normally, I would be in favor of the tax, but three recent events have caused me to reconsider my vote.

1. How resistant Dr. McGee and certain members of the board were to following medical advice and dropping the option of zero period. Thankfully, Dr. McGee seems to have made the right choice, but it certainly took awhile for him to come to that decision.

2. The Union filing a complaint against Gunn's current principal for her attempt to get the teachers to use Schoology. This was an incredibly ill timed and obnoxious move on their part and has caused me to wonder why the Union has been so silent on the subject of our recent student suicides. They have offered nothing in the way of suggestions about how to address the problems that are facing our students, and they have done nothing to support their own members, the teachers, in dealing with their feelings and reactions to this crisis.

3. Board member Camille Townsend's recent remarks during a board discussion about whether to add two additional counselors at the high school level. She commented that this (the student deaths) was something that we had lived through before and she wondered what the two new counselors would do? Since Ms Townsend has been on the board through each of these clusters one would think that she might have educated herself as to what a school board could do to improve things for their students; educated herself as to what steps could be taken to shift the dynamics at the high schools, but instead Ms. Townsend often shoots down any suggestion of change and rarely offers an idea on how to improve our students' experience at the high school level.

I wish I could think of a way to express my desire for change in the district that did not involve withholding money from our students, but given the district's tendency to ignore any parent or group that disagrees with them, I am left with expressing myself with a vote against Measure A.


31 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2015 at 1:51 pm

Why do parents raise their children in Palo Alto if they feel it is determinal to their child's well being to attend Palo Alto achools? is it all about being able to say your child went to Palo Akro schools and you are pushing them to attend Ivy League schools. If it's so bad you should move. Stop blaming everyone around you and look at yourself . Is it more important to have a child who is happy and mentally stable ir is it all about the ability of a parent bragging that they live in the community of 1%.


16 people like this
Posted by Frustrated parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2015 at 2:11 pm

@Bill misses the point: "Why do parents raise their children in Palo Alto if they feel it is determinal to their child's well being to attend Palo Alto achools? is it all about being able to say your child went to Palo Akro schools and you are pushing them to attend Ivy League schools. If it's so bad you should move. "

Some of us moved here based on rumors of good schools that differ from reality. But stay for other reasons: mostly friends and work.

We still expect the schools to meet their public obligation to teach all children. The schools don't get to selectively ignore some kids because you imagine we should just move away.

And the mistaken belief that everyone wants to get into the ivies is a pretty tired cliche. Not even close to true. I don't care where they go, I just want the abuse to stop while we are here.

You see, it is wrong to abuse children; then it is doubly wrong to justify this by claiming :'well, you could have moved...' By this logic every district in the US could abuse children. Then move where? It is an extremely callous response to teen suicide.


Vote No on Measure A


30 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Your friends and jobs are more important than your child.? It is the responsibility of parents to remove them from a situation that is detrimental to their child's well being.


14 people like this
Posted by Current parent with closer view
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2015 at 2:22 pm

@Bill,
Why do you assume and pass on the ugly stereotype/false meme that parents make the sacrifice to live here so that they can "brag" about going to PA schools and push them to attend an Ivy League? How does going to a PA school help get them into an Ivy League? What proof do you have that this is what motivates people to live here?

Most people here find the elementary level schools great, we did. Most people find the parent community great. I have experience with 4 parent communities, all amazing. I don't doubt that you could find a few stories that are as you describe, but it's not the majority of parents I meet. In fact, one of the greatest things about this district is the families. The families are one of the most unique and amazing things about living here. A lot of the parents remember what it was like growing up feeling lonely because all their peers were interested in was doing drugs, gossiping, clothes and makeup, etc. For smart kids to have so many smart peers who care about learning, who are interested in stuff instead of interested in bullying those who are, that's priceless.

When people move to a place, all they can do is go on the reputation. (And that's even assuming you have a lot of control over where you end up -- when we were looking for housing, we were hunting from San Jose to San Carlos.) You have no idea until you go through it, nay, would never believe it until you go through it, that a place with such a community of parents would put up with such negative, harmful, and destructive behavior by people they hire to administer the schools. You would have no inkling from living in a democracy in which all the governmental systems have checks and balances, that a school district would be SO insular.

People make sacrifices to live here. They develop a place in the community and their kids have friends and ties. And there is the little matter of how moving makes your property taxes skyrocket even more (do you have ANY idea how hard it is to get and settle into a home and stable situation in this entire region)?

This is the situation we are in, and parents are trying to solve the problems. You are not trying to solve the problem by dumping all over them. Maybe you aren't a parent, and so you also don't understand how many parents could care about ALL the children and not just their own?

We have real problems here. I think most people think the problems are worth solving, that are kids are worth it. Certainly, dumping all over hurting people who are trying to make things better will do nothing but do the intended, cause hurt. One thing I love about this place is that most parents are the opposite of that. People are imperfect, but most really care, and they really try.

Fristrated Parent - please come to Cathy Kirman's next coffee for Mypausd - I think it's next week.


10 people like this
Posted by Current parent with closer view
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2015 at 2:30 pm

"Vote No on Measure A"

If you vote NO, as soon as you close your ballot, please take a moment to write a short sentence or two explaining why and send it to the district office. Send another copy to the Weekly. It doesn't have to be long and you can even make it anonymous. But if you do, please explain why.

PAUSD
c/o Why I voted No
25 Churchill Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Palo Alto Weekly
c/o Why I voted No
450 Cambridge Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306

If you are trying to send a message, then please also send the message. You can do so by email, but a real letter is more powerful. That way, regardless of which way the vote goes, and especially if it goes NO, then at least the post-election analysis will be accurate. If the vote goes yes, then at least the Weekly will have hundreds of letters that will keep the district from claiming the result is a sign that everything is really fine and go on like nothing happened. In fact, anyone even voting yes with reservations should send such a letter to outline the reservations.

Everyone should do it, each person should make at least that much of a commitment for our kids, so that at least the Weekly, and maybe the district office, will understand that we care. (Please share this with others.)


36 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 12, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Alphonso is a registered user.

I would like to see a detailed comparison - Los Altos vs Palo Alto schools. Based on my somewhat incomplete knowledge - similar demographics, similar academic results, similar amount of homework, similar parcel tax and Los Altos High has a zero period and does not use Schoology. Some Palo Alto Parents whine quite a bit, but LA parents don't. I don't recall any suicides by train in Los Altos, but quite a few in PA. I have heard that teachers are paid more in Los Altos. The local paper in Los Altos appears to be more supportive than the paper in PA. [Portion removed.] Based on the comments made by PA parents concerning the parcel tax it is obvious the Los Altos and Cupertino schools have a bright future and too many PA parents are lost somewhere in the outfield.


6 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 12, 2015 at 3:50 pm

@Alphanso
Los Altos High uses a tool similar to schoology (same idea, different name). Here is a quote from their handbook "This system allows parents and students to monitor attendance, assignments and grades on-line." Pretty much every high school and college now has an online communication tool where assignments and information are posted.


6 people like this
Posted by Skeptical
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 12, 2015 at 4:17 pm

If the parcel tax is voted down, couldn't they just bank the increaes in property tax revenue this year instead of creating more positions to spend the money? The parcel tax is still there for another year, so then two years of increases will put them on the road to mitigating the effects of losing the parcel tax.


12 people like this
Posted by Frustrated parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2015 at 4:55 pm

@Bill [portion removed] "It is the responsibility of parents to remove them from a situation that is detrimental to their child's well being.".

Ummm, is it not our right to an education ? Is it not our civic responsibility to stand up for injustice , and fix broken institutions?

By your logic the schools could resort to all manner of barbarism in attempting to teach, and the parents should leave if they don't like it. This line of reasoning is what supported corporal punishment in the classroom. Should we poke them with hot sticks? Negative feedback does make some kids learn. Or shall we join Mr Filtch and get out the thumb screws ?

After all, if we don't like it, we can leave ! But aghast should anyone breathe of withholding money!

[Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by HR
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 12, 2015 at 5:05 pm

"Four times your Gross." Thats the general rule of thumb to qualify for a home. Even the Superintendent with his interest free loan could not get a home in the community he works in. It's going to be hard to hold onto experienced educators who choose teaching as a career. Pay less, require more, increase class size ? This won't attract or retain quality educators. I do not know the numbers District wide , but in my children's elementary school, I have seen a few teachers leave. To say it was due to cost of living would only be speculation. I have watched real estate prices go thru the roof. Many reasons for this but I tend to believe that schools and their program offerings make or break where someone will settle. There are a few nay sayers out there and like the Progressive commercial with the boats, your always going to have a Sea Hag. I'm not 100% satisfied with the districts choices , and few always are, but if I can get just 1 child less in my children's classroom, that extra $2 a day is worth it. I'm pretty sure our property value is rising considerable more. Yes on A.


8 people like this
Posted by Current parent w/a closer view
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Frustrated Parent,
When Bill wrote "It is the responsibility of parents to remove them from a situation that is detrimental to their child's well being"

That may be so, but it is also legally the responsibility of the schools to ensure every child has a free and equitable public education, as well as to ensure children are safe in school. Education is a Constitutional right in California, and both federal and state laws apply to fairness in public education.

So, while a parent may feel they can remove a child from school when the situation isn't safe, the law still requires the parent to send the child to school, and legally requires the school to ensure the child has a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment (meaning, you can't tell some people to go away because you don't like them or educating them fairly is harder).

The law is more on the side of the parents in ensuring things get fixed, and absolutely runs counter to the schools expecting people to remove children when the circumstance is unsafe, in fact that would leave children with fewer means on a sinking ship with everyone else taking the life boats.

I'd like to expand my suggestion about people responding over the why they vote. I hope EVERYONE, whether yes, no, yes with reservations, no with reservation -- I hope everyone will write to the Weekly and to the Board and tell them why they voted as they did:

PAUSD
c/o Why I voted No/Yes
25 Churchill Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Palo Alto Weekly
c/o Why I voted No/Yes
450 Cambridge Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306


12 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 12, 2015 at 5:56 pm

HR,

Nope. Here's the reality. PA teachers are among the few who can send their kids to school in the PAUSD without having to live here. Yep, their kids get an education in a well-funded district without having to pay a parcel tax.

Sooo, the higher the real-estate goes in Palo Alto, the bigger the perk it is to be able to educate your kids here without paying PA prices for it.

And, frankly, if any teacher leaves because it's too much work for them to use Schoology--good riddance. We have kids killing themselves and at high risk of doing so in our high schools. I've no interest in keeping teachers who aren't willing to work for a solution.


10 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Bill,

Sorry, the PAUSD belongs to us, the residents. They're public, not private, so I've no reason to ignore how they're run.

And some of us have resilient kids who can manage the district crazy. Doesn't mean, however, that the dysfunctional aspects of the district aren't a problem.

The schools are supposed to act in loco parentis to our kids--so, yes, they have a legal, as well as moral, duty to create a healthy learning environment. Which is why the district got slapped by the OCR.


2 people like this
Posted by HR
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 12, 2015 at 7:32 pm

Having teachers children attend school in the District they work in makes perfect sense for both parties. Lucky we do not have to provide housing or living stipends for them . Imagine if they had a union and members as strong as your opinion? Like I said before, "teachers and their unions are easy targets" Yes on A.


12 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2015 at 8:33 pm

The PAUSD 2010 - 2011 budget was $154 million.

The PAUSL 2014 - 2015 budget is $184 million, and increase of 30%.

Enrollment went from 12,000 kids to 12,532, roughly a 5% increase.

Spending per pupil went from $12,800 to $14,682 (budget divided by number of students).

Any idea where all the spending increases went?


20 people like this
Posted by Always Voted Yes, Now Voting NO
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 12, 2015 at 9:54 pm

I am a native of Palo Alto (multi-generation native, in fact) and have always voted 'yes' on anything related to school funding. I also currently have middle school children in PAUSD, and have already graduated a child from this pressure cooker of a school district.

Because of the refusal of PAEA to adopt Schoology (and the grievance against Dr. Herrmann); because of the continued employment of bad teachers; because of the continued, unfair grading practices (grading on the curve, and inconsistent requirements/grading between teachers of the same subject); and because PAUSD has consistently failed, for years, to make serious efforts to deal with our high-pressure environment, I AM VOTING 'NO' ON MEASURE A.

PAUSD has a year to get their act together and behave as though they actually answer to the tax payers of Palo Alto before they lose Measure A with any impact to district funding. TELL THEM LOUD AND CLEAR YOU EXPECT THEM TO BE RESPONSIVE TO THE COMMUNITY NEEDS. VOTE 'NO' ON MEASURE A IN THIS 'SPECIAL ELECTION.' They have a full year to get their act together and have another vote before any funding is lost.

Don't let these career politicians scare you into giving them funds they will continue to misappropriate!

FIGHT BACK BY VOTING 'NO' ON MEASURE A!

Deliver the only message the School Board will listen to by denying them money with which they can continue to act irresponsibly!


3 people like this
Posted by I can't remember the name I used
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 12, 2015 at 10:14 pm

@common sense

A chunk of the spending increase went for legal fees. Another chunk went to pay for Tabitha, the PR lady. Then there's the bloated district staff. But the vast majority of the property tax increases have gone to raises for the teachers, because the school board makes unrealistically low budget projections, builds up a huge surplus, and then sweeps it all in to the union's pocketbook every year or two.

And the thanks you get is the grievance about not wanting to do their jobs for the money.

Jokes on the taxpayer!

I'm for measure A because they have us by the balls. They have our kids hostage.


10 people like this
Posted by Always Voted Yes, Now Voting NO
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 12, 2015 at 10:14 pm

PAUSD is mobilizing parent-minions to advocate for a 'yes' vote on Measure A. They know not what they are campaigning for.

Please educate anyone and everyone you can on why we need to tell the PAUSD that they are responsible to the students! Tell them to vote 'NO' on Measure A!


1 person likes this
Posted by Current parent w/a closer view
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2015 at 10:54 pm

"I'm for measure A because they have us by the balls. They have our kids hostage."

"PAUSD is mobilizing parent-minions to advocate for a 'yes' vote on Measure A. They know not what they are campaigning for.

Please educate anyone and everyone you can on why we need to tell the PAUSD that they are responsible to the students! Tell them to vote 'NO' on Measure A!"


TO BOTH YES AND NO VOTERS who posted the above: Please see my message above and copy your posts and mail to both the Weekly and PAUSD with the reasoning for your vote. Everyone should send their reasoning, especially if they vote NO. The district (and the 4th estate, the Weekly) need to hear it. A letter, to the addresses above, is more effective, even if you just cut, paste, and print. But if you have to send an email:

board@pausd.org

and

editor@paweekly.com
ekadvany@paweekly.com

(If I've gotten any of those emails wrong, please let me know!)

FWIW, "can't remember" I agree, they have us by the balls, but voting NO on something like this is how you turn the tables. It's one of the only ways we can send a msg they can't ignore. And it's absolutely possible to put through another, better bond before the current one expires. (If someone has you by the balls, the last thing you want to do is tell someone you love what they do to you.)


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 12, 2015 at 11:10 pm

FWIW, I wish people would stop calling this measure a "bond".


Like this comment
Posted by Current parent w/a closer view
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2015 at 11:49 pm

@musical,

Thanks for the reminder. You are right, it's a parcel tax, not a bond.


(


7 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 13, 2015 at 12:10 am

HR,

You're hedging. I understand why teachers get to send their kids to PA schools, but that means I also get that threats about teachers quitting and not being able to hire replacements ring hollow.

I'm happy to vote for Measure A--*if* the academic zero period is rescinded (which looks promising) and the teachers get on board with Schoology--I want an 80 percent compliance rate instead of 50 percent. Very simple, really, and reasonable in a district with high stress levels and kids that kill themselves.

This is the second suicide cluster since I've been a parent in this district. I don't need teachers who can't work with the community on ending this situation.


12 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2015 at 8:13 am

Adam Strassberg, a psychiatrist and the father of two Palo Alto teenagers, wrote that while many Palo Alto parents are “wealthy and secure beyond imagining,” they’re consumed by fear of losing that perch or failing to bequeath it to their kids. “Maintaining and advancing insidiously high educational standards in our children is a way to soothe this anxiety,” he said.


This is the reputation of Palo Alto schools. There are excellent Bay Area school districts where children receive good educations are happy and productive and not "abused " as parents say by the Palo Alto schools.


4 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 13, 2015 at 9:19 am

Eric Rosenblum is a registered user.

@ taxpayer

Thanks for providing the list of endorsements for Measure A-- all of our elected (and formerly elected) officials support this measure, as far as I can tell. This includes officials who have very different outlooks on core issues about the future direction of our city-- they all agree that Measure A is a good idea.

My point is that I'd like them to use their communication channels to explain *why* they support Measure A. Through multiple campaigns, they have all built up formidable mailing lists-- I would like to see them reach out directly to their constituents and explain their support. There are few issues in Palo Alto as important as the quality of our schools, and it would be great to see our elected leadership take a forceful and educated stand.

I received such a letter from Councilmember Berman. It would be great to see a similar level of commitment from others. If others have received letters from other Councilmembers, it would be great to see summaries of their argument here. Thank you!


2 people like this
Posted by STEAM BS
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2015 at 9:23 am

Bill,

The guy is a psychiatrist! He sees patients every day. That's a side of the spectrum that may explain some of your theories, but it's not reality.

I wonder what the Dr. would say about the obsession with STEM and now STEAM which in the old days was just Math, Science, English, Art, and so forth. Could our schools be "consumed by fear of losing that perch"?

What's healthy? And how are we collectively putting money into what makes kids lives better in school every day. They spend a lot of time there, and it matters what "consumes" our schools.


8 people like this
Posted by Yes, Ken, Yes on A!
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 13, 2015 at 11:48 am

I was thrilled to see an email today from Ken Dauber supporting Measure A. Over the past year, I have appreciated Ken's insistence that we put students first. Now that we have a chance to show as a community that we are putting students first by funding our schools and using the funds to pay for key student supports and small classes, I have waited to hear more from Ken. Today, I read his unequivocal support for our parcel tax. If Measure A is good enough for Ken, it's good enough for me.


9 people like this
Posted by outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 13, 2015 at 12:08 pm

I will vote yes, but only if money goes to tutoring to replace lack of instruction in the high schools. also if it could go to getting teachers off their computers during class and engaged with their students, it would be well spent. OR, maybe the high school teachers could just, for free, teach to the standards, check for understanding and give all the kids, not just the ones with money for tutors, the same education.

I need that money to pay for tutors and classes so my kid can keep up with kids in other districts. sorry. figure it out. New parents that think your kid is smarter and stronger and can go to school form 8-3 and then go to school again to get instruction. think again.... Kid's brains need downtime to be working properly, and rest to absorb new material and also unstructured time to make their own decisions. Keep your money and go to a private school. No amt of money can fix this.




8 people like this
Posted by Voting Yes
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 13, 2015 at 12:10 pm

I just don't get it. I've read the arguments of the anti-Measure A crowd and don't get it.

The school district got rid of Katya and brought in Denise Hermann. Students and teachers I've talked to love her and said the environment is much improved. The school district got rid of Kevin Skelley and brought in Max McGee. I've talked to him and heard him speak, much improved! The Gunn counseling department is much expanded and improved. I've talked to ACS and Gunn and their programs are expanded.

Yes, we've got a long way to go but the new team is trying hard and I believe making progress!

For the anti-A crowd, do you participate in the PTA? Do you attend school board meetings and let your voices be heard? Do you attend principal's coffees and discuss issues? Did you actively participate in the last school board election? I did. If not, don't just criticize but participate in making Palo Alto better!

I'm voting yes. Let's not increase stress on the system, let's move forward.


29 people like this
Posted by oustsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 13, 2015 at 12:34 pm

moving forward does not always require money. In this case, meeting and enforcing standards is absolutely free and will reduce stress for all students. All that is needed is administrators who can perform their job professionally. Money can not always buy what is needed.


17 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 13, 2015 at 2:16 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@Bill:

"Adam Strassberg, a psychiatrist and the father of two Palo Alto teenagers, wrote that while many Palo Alto parents are "wealthy and secure beyond imagining," they're consumed by fear of losing that perch or failing to bequeath it to their kids. "Maintaining and advancing insidiously high educational standards in our children is a way to soothe this anxiety," he said.


This is the reputation of Palo Alto schools."



Everyone wants high achievement. There is a range of views of how to achieve high performance - one is through engagement, skilled representation of the material, differentiated learning, organized assignments, supportive environments, and quality, timely feedback.

The other is massive homework as a substitution for engaged teaching.

Most of the time we get the former, some of the time the latter. We need to move all teachers to the first model. The homework policy is a tool to do so - by eliminating the tool of oppression, you force people to start thinking of other ways to get the job done.

That realization has not sunk in yet. So until that day comes... No on Measure A.


3 people like this
Posted by Margaret
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 13, 2015 at 2:32 pm

easy NO....

they always say they are 'helping' the kids, but all we get is more and more expensive city manager staff, and way way too many cops and cops palaces

...oh, and guards to sit by the train all day pretending to do something about the suicide problem






12 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 13, 2015 at 4:20 pm



I just mailed my 'Why I Voted No' to PAUSD. Might be the only one they get.


18 people like this
Posted by Current parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2015 at 4:44 pm

@Voting Y,

Yes to all your questions except for lately, too busy helping my stressed out kid, and the things you mentioned haven't helped one iota. PTA is usually the last place to get courageous action to solve school problems.

Replacing Skelly would have been great except someone forgot that when something is rotten, you have to remove all of it or it just comes back. We think McGee is great, too but he is quickly being lost to Young and Carrillo's influence. All three needed replacing together, and maybe Linda Lenoir and Holly Wade, too, and anyone else involved in that whole coverup culture. All things considered, thing are actually worse than they were just before Skelly left.

I'm not voting for a bond until Carrillo and Young are replaced with people who care about kids' lives more than CYA. That's what I'm going to say in my "Why I voted NO" letter.


Like this comment
Posted by @margaret
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 13, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Margaret, Measure A doesn't have anything to do with "...expensive city manager staff, and way way too many cops and cops palaces." Those are City of Palo Alto expenses, not school district expenses.


17 people like this
Posted by The new Skelly
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2015 at 7:13 pm

The district did not get rid of principal Katya Villalobos, PAEA got rid of her. The leaders of Gunn PAEA were emboldened by this, which was a factor in their action against new principal Denise Herrmann. It wasn't just the PAEA executive board. Parcel tax money will primarily feed into PAEA membership, not children's needs. Voting no.


9 people like this
Posted by Current Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2015 at 10:57 pm

@ The new,

Please remember to send your reasons for how you voted to both 25 Churchill and the Weekly, even if just a handwritten note.

Thanks.


14 people like this
Posted by NO!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 14, 2015 at 7:55 am

@Voting Yes:

You're where I was a few years ago. I've always voted "YES" in the past 20+ years. We've had the same conversation, same meetings, same proposals, same committees...etc. Unfortunately the end result is always no change from the students' point of views, but bigger and more resources.

For example:

"The school district got rid of Katya and brought in Denise Hermann. Students and teachers I've talked to love her and said the environment is much improved."
Yes. I concur. D. Hermann is appreciated and liked by many parents and students. As shown by the latest contention re Schoology, she needs support from the parent community to stand firm and demand action from the teachers' union. If you vote "Yes" for Measure A, you will be sending the message that parents support the union and are not interested in holding teachers' accountable.

"The school district got rid of Kevin Skelley and brought in Max McGee. I've talked to him and heard him speak, much improved! "
McGee is new to the district. His success is measured by status quo for at least the beginning few years. He relies on the existing structure (good and bad) to be successful. I talked to him as well in several meetings. His achievements are still too early to tell.

"The Gunn counseling department is much expanded and improved. I've talked to ACS and Gunn and their programs are expanded."
I've had personal experience on this topic. Yes, Gunn's counseling department is much expanded but NOT improved.
Students are still waiting to make appointments- sometimes up to 1 month. Gunn added several counselors but in my opinion, incorrectly. When their new counseling system started two years ago, over 30 percent of the seniors had new counselors during their most stressful time of college applications. Juniors were assigned to a new counselor for one year.

I've been part of the PTA for over 20+ years. I've volunteered and served on the site counsel and PTA board for over 15+ years. Believe me, we need change. For those younger students' parents, please do some research. Talk to older students and parents. Be an advocate for your students! I made the mistake of believing and following blindly for years. Please help our students!

Thanks for listening and I am voting "NO" on measure A.


3 people like this
Posted by NO!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 14, 2015 at 7:59 am

Sorry for the typo:

"You're where I was a few years ago. I've always voted "YES" in the past 20+ years. We've had the same conversation, same meetings, same proposals, same committees...etc. Unfortunately the end result is always no change from the students' point of views, but bigger and more resources. "
What I meant to say by "bigger and more resources" is more administrators!


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

paloaltoparent is a registered user.

Voting Yes on A, as I will do is an easy call. For all this discussion of issues at the High School level, 46 of the 67 teachers funded by parcel tax are in our elementary schools. A few others are extra 6th grade teachers keeping those class sizes down. Others are 9th grade English and Math teachers keeping those class sizes down. As stated in the last Board meeting, Measure A funds will be used ongoing to pay for the 2 new mental health therapists being hired for each of our high schools. They took money out of the reserves to get it going, but that's not going to pay fo

Nothing's perfect here, and I am as frustrated by many specific issues especially as my 7th grader inches closer to high school. I have attended board meetings to talk about precisely some of the issues that are causing folks here to vote No. Generally, it's a lonely place with the same few people. The level of passion on this thread would be well served in person in large numbers at board meeting. Please show up and demand action there!

A vote against Measure A is a vote against basic interests of children K-12. We are in a much better place for addressing long, languishing issues now than we have been in a while. I'm not prepared to undermine that effort by actively trying to put us in the position of wasting another year trying to secure $13M/year, which would clearly supersede focus on a lot of the critical issues of concern here. It is not a responsible risk to take.

Please mobilize online to show up at board meetings, and make an issue of the policies and practices that need fixing or throwing out. In the meantime, vote YES to keep basic classroom expectations in place without disruption. It is in all of our best interests.


3 people like this
Posted by paloaltoparent
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 14, 2015 at 10:16 am

paloaltoparent is a registered user.

My bad. End of paragraph 1 got deleted:
They took money out of the reserves to get it going, but that's not going to pay for the therapists on an ongoing basis, as this steady stream of funding will.


18 people like this
Posted by Current parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2015 at 10:28 am

paloaltoparent,

This does come back to the trust issue. If the tax is going to pay for those things, and is necessary to pay for those things, why aren't they specifically enumerated? In my experience, even when things are enumerated, they're couched in vague terms to allow districts to weasel out and they do. The only thing any of us have to go on when it comes to how the money WILL be spent is trust.


16 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Dear Max McGee,

In your editoral, you state "I pledge to make myself and my staff available to answer any questions that the community has related to our budget or the parcel-tax proposal."

There are many good questions being posted on this forum in response to your editoral.

I haven't seen any response yet from you or your staff. I will wait another day, but if there aren't satisfactory answers to the questions being posted here, I will be voting NO.


15 people like this
Posted by Hollow victory
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Dr. Magee took nearly one month to make a decision on zero period - though aided by the best medical science at his finger tips and solid local, medical support for abolishing a structure that puts our children at unacceptable risk. Instead our community has been drawn through another contentious and ridiculous "discussion" of pro and con, creating further (and completely unnecessary) damage to a hurting community.

I am disappointed and discouraged by his delay. It hurt us when we needed to heal. I'm worried for what it may suggest about his decision-making and who or what finally inspires him to act.

What ultimately helped Dr. Magee decide to abolish academic classes in a zero period? I really can't say since we know the medical evidence has been mountainous and in his hands for weeks. But I received my parcel tax ballot on Thursday afternoon. Friday morning came the news - Max has decided.

What am I to think of that? That political science trumps medical science?

So disheartened - by what could appear to matter more or be more urgent - enough to finally get him to ACT.

No on A. Because it's the only way our voices are being heard, apparently. Wish it weren't so.


1 person likes this
Posted by Kerry
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2015 at 11:04 pm

I understand the need to rattract and retain great staff - but what can be done to remove the weak staff?
At least a few teachers in every school that need to go - either in role too long and have gotten comfortable and or cranky, or weak from the get go

Yes you can train them and try to bring above par - but many are past their prime and need to be shuffled around or out!


7 people like this
Posted by Frustrated parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2015 at 6:40 am

@Kerry asks a relevant question: "what can be done to remove the weak staff?...many are past their prime and need to be shuffled around or out!"


A few comments on this - I don't agree that ageism is part of this. Some of our best teachers were more experienced . So were some of our worst - they come in all age brackets, do we need to be careful to focus on the three factors that matter: 1) are they engaging their students or disengaging students. 2) are the teaching the curriculum in a quality manner. 3) are they following policy - homework, professional standards.

All of hese three need to be evaluated by students directly. Goal should be 100% approval rating - like any service business. Measured in individual classrooms on individual teachers.

Regarding actionable data, pending Vergara decisions aside for a moment, it is nearly impossible to fire a teacher . That action should be reserved for cases needed to restore public trust in teaching staff - I.e egregious cases only: like sexual harrassment and gross negligence. If it remains costly, we have to deal with this sparingly.

Negotiated exits should be more common. And I don't mean shuffling from one school to another - if someone is not performing - out of the district. They should consider negotiating a fixed price buyout in advance with the union if they have not done so already. Trying to do this on-the-cheap is where people get sidetracked.

Some teachers are subject matter experts , but for whatever reason are not engaging their students - these can be good employees in a different role. Something like 40% of our money is for non teaching staff . Let's find roles where people can use their expertise. But may not be in front of students everyday.

There is always attrition. That can be leveraged if we view it as an opportunity to better ourselves . Staff attrition? May be time to move a disengaging teacher out of a class. District attrition - or growth of admin jobs? Move an expert.

Some districts maintain a rubber room to those who have no redeeming qualities to offer in a classroom or in other jobs. When firing teachers cost more tha keeping them, you only pursue firing to maintain public trust in the system. The rest you warehouse.

Some teachers are good, but lack the organization and classroom management skills to run a full schedule. There should be room for newer learning teachers to teach with a extra prep time and lighter class load at lower salary with the understanding that time is spent under the tuteledge of a more organized peer learning to manage classrooms.

Finally, the problem needs to ultimately be solved at the source: we hire WAY TOO EASILY. Fremont for example issues pink slips every year for the first few years until a teacher has proven themselves. Tenure comes after that.
We Must include student engagement and parent satisfaction along with quality assessments in our evaluations of teachers. It is time consuming, but I would pay for admin support needed to manage the new hire teachers specifically - their evaluation, dismissal ( aggressively) and training for the first five years is a critical phase. It appears to be left up to the IS who are too buddy-buddy with their staff, and don't have time or inclination to let go of someone. Maybe because they find recruiting odious and settle for what they have got. Maybe because some of the IS aren't very gods either.

We need a massive HR overhaul of the systems and organization around how people are managed. Flexibility is available, but unused, and more flexibility can be bought. A focus on quality, engagement, student and parent input, and finally training. Were a school right? We can train those with raw talent and willingness...


17 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 15, 2015 at 7:39 am

mauricio is a registered user.

If Measure A is approved, there will be no incentive for PAUSD to correct the many wrongs in our schools. Additionally, the ever increasing property tax revenue due to the phenomenal acceleration of Palo Alto's real estate values makes this parcel tax absolutely unnecessary. This tax increase will benefit adults working for the district, not the students. Voting No and then donating a portion of the proposed tax increase to struggling school districts who truly need the money would be the patriotic, moral and right thing to do


18 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 15, 2015 at 10:59 am

I am voting no on Measure A. I am offended and disgusted by the attempt at emotional blackmail by bureaucrats and politicians who think the answer to every problem is to throw money at it.

What happened to being creative, and living within your budget? An early renewal is tantamount to saying "we really didn't make the best use of previous parcel tax revenues and need more money." This is a naked attempt to exploit the very real emotional fear that children will begin harming themselves in greater numbers. Shame on you!

If McGee, his bloated bureaucrats, and the board can't be more judicious, creative, and imaginative in using the funds our very expensive property taxes provide, do we really want them in office?

NO on Measure A!


10 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 15, 2015 at 11:08 am

The superintendent earns $300,000 in straight salary -- more than the CA governor -- and gets a $1,000,000 interest-free mortgage on his residence.

What's the servicing cost on that loan??? I'm really tired of hearing the new aristocracy of govt. bureaucrats plead poverty when they get perks like that.

Put the money toward education and city services. Until then, I vote NO.


15 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Giving more money to this district is like giving alcohol to a drunk, hoping it will "cure" them.

More money is exactly what this district does *not* need. What they need is a wake-up call. They are clearly still in deep denial.



13 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2015 at 12:50 pm

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Current parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2015 at 1:44 pm

@another dad,

I agree. I would challenge you to come up with a public records request to unearth the district's payment for this type of effort, especially since the PR person's salary was justified to the public in order to (blaming the public) comply with all the records requests (which they don't comply with AT ALL now).

Maybe even ask Dauber to shed light on that....


3 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 15, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2015 at 8:01 pm

@Slow Down

A lot of kids have committed suicide in this district. Local medical experts have clearly stated that stress and school issues are some of the biggest issues. Many, many parents are concerned.

[Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 16, 2015 at 6:10 am

mauricio is a registered user.

This district does not need more money. It needs a profound reform. It needs to reduce its bloated bureaucracy, starting with getting rid of their PR person. It needs to get rid of the old guard teachers and administrators. Giving it more money is like giving an alcoholic a bottle of vodka as a birthday present.


11 people like this
Posted by The New Skelly
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2015 at 7:09 am

Those of you not in the education business might already know that dozens of teachers do not have to be laid off if and when the parcel tax does not pass. You probably know that non-essential positions like the public relations can save a quick $150,000. The teachers on special assignment can stop delivering pseudo coaching to a few teachers here and there and return to the classroom or compete for administration positions. Administration positions, yep, a few of those can go away at 25 Churchill and we don't need to add any. The board can direct FFF and Lozano and Smith to not spend a single dime, or in reality tens of thousands of dollars annually in fighting the OCR. A real hit would be not renewing the 2014-2015 first-year hires. Reduce the per pupil supplies budget, that was done during the last scare. PAUSD is indeed flush with funding and cash. Every other Bay Area district knows this. Whomever is suggesting that we need to lay off almost 100 teachers is being dishonest.


16 people like this
Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 16, 2015 at 7:50 am

Reason is a registered user.

I think this comes down to two different views of the "system":

1) If you view the system as an end-to-end managed system with participants coordinated and managed to execute the direction of the voters/board/super/principals. Then the money is being put to good use. It is funding a managed system to the benefit of the children.

2) If you view the system as a loose collaboration of teachers, with no apparent management. Then the role of the board/super/principals is to manage facilities, buy paper clips, and keep parents at bay. Coordinating any direction for the benefit of the children is impossible, because in this system there is no direction, coordination or leadership.


The second view loses the trust over time because individual teachers can act in discord with individual parent/voters. If enough of this occurs, you lose the 33% of votes needed to pass new funding. I clearly view the system as (2) - enough experience shows that the board/super/principals will not stand up for individual problems in the classroom.

To all those voting "YES" and claiming "think of the children" - do you realize you are in a role of purely providing funding, not direction? Do you realize there is no oversight, management, or coordination to set a direction as to how your money is spent?

It is NOT going well for our children - that is patently obvious to even the most cynical insider.

The question is will Measure A pass and validate system (2) - the loose collaboration with unfettered funding? Or will Measure A fail, causing a rethink to move toward system (1) - something that serves all voter/parents?

Or will it fail, and we'll just muddle on with the broken system we have?


29 people like this
Posted by I can't remember the name I used
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 16, 2015 at 9:11 am

If it passes it won't be validating the current system. If it passes it will do it just barely, and will be a vote for fear rather than affirmation. When a parent pays the ransom demanded by the kidnapper who is holding their child hostage, payment does not constitute a vote of confidence in the kidnapper.


6 people like this
Posted by Lee Thé
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 16, 2015 at 11:08 am

Lee Thé is a registered user.

Wasn't the original parcel tax sold to the public as a temporary measure needed to tide the school district over during the Great Recession?

That's why it included a sunset clause.

Well, the Great Recession is over. Property taxes are booming, due to the enormous appreciation of Palo Alto housing. Property taxes on property protected by Prop. 13 is still going up (contrary to what some think)--just not as fast.

The reasons given for the original parcel tax measure are gone.

Now we're getting new reasons for making this temporary tax, in effect, permanent.

In retail that's called Band and Switch.


6 people like this
Posted by Lee Thé
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 16, 2015 at 11:13 am

Lee Thé is a registered user.

Sorry, I meant to write


"In retail that's called BAIT and switch."


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 16, 2015 at 11:31 pm

As I said in the other thread about Measure A, before you vote do some research on how well-managed the $378,000,000 construction bond issue that passed in 2008 is being managed. The PAUSD cried "dire need" and the bond issue passed with 77% with the proviso that all of the funds had to be spent to satisfy those "dire needs."

Search on "PAUSD construction bond issue" so you can see how well the $378,000,000 is being managed, how much has been spent, how much has been allocated, how much is just waiting for someone to define some projects to satisfy those "dire" needs," how many projects are already over-budget, how many lawsuits, etc.

Search the PA Weekly's archives and do a broader Google search.


6 people like this
Posted by It's the TRUST
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2015 at 12:58 am

Has anyone gotten an answer to this? Anyone want to ask McGee directly and post the answer? My name isn't Page or Ellison so I don't rate a tour or an answer to questions, apparently.


Dear Dr. McGee,

How much money does 25 Churchill cost us? Please break down totals for administrative salaries and overhead (and how many administrators that buys us), as well as all other costs of administration.

And while you are at it, please give us an idea of what you think could be done to streamline administrative costs, so we can assess your managerial skills. [Portion removed.]

Thank you.


10 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 17, 2015 at 4:53 am


We need to lower taxes not increase taxes.

We need to look at waste and reduce 5% year by year.

It is healthy thing to do.

Respectfully


19 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2015 at 7:22 am

This community needs to take a hard look at itself. How are we expected to raise educated , thoughtful, compassionate children when a segment of the community feels it is right to hide behind fake names and allow this newspaper to use them to take down good people like Ms Hermann and Terri. Do you also encourage your children to participle in cyber bullying? Look at us. We are also the district who procrastinated in developing and implementing a bully policy. Palo Alto School district does not have the positive reputation it once had. And the people of this community are to blame for that.


5 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2015 at 9:26 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

YES!

"Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
2 hours ago

This community needs to take a hard look at itself. How are we expected to raise educated , thoughtful, compassionate children when a segment of the community feels it is right to hide behind fake names and allow this newspaper to use them to take down good people"


Way to go 'Bill of Another Palo Alto neighborhood' for calling out those who post with fake names! - are you being ironic? or is this satire?

FWIW, most of us who wish to remain anonymous do so to avoid retaliation brought upon our children. As well, this forum is full of people who use ad-hominem attacks when lacking rational arguments. No need to suffer that again when I go the post office or grocery store.

But thanks for the post...it made me chuckle.


20 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2015 at 9:40 am

How sad that you recognize as many do that this community is a toxic place to raise children because we have to fear retaltion against our children and families for having a difference of opinion .


8 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2015 at 10:03 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

No, I have very little fear of the community. The parents around here are great.

But I have a very real experience with retaliation within our schools.

Multiple times.

When you experience that you will bear a measure of caution as well.

What is sad and despicable is that the teachers doing so are still employed. And the principal who backed them up and did nothing to alleviate the issue is also still working here.

So I am not agreeing with anything you said. Ever.

But I did find it comical that you post under an anonymous name from another neighborhood, yet reprimand others for doing the same.


9 people like this
Posted by morning walk
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 17, 2015 at 10:38 am

My husband and I enjoyed a morning coffee and then strolled to the mailbox and mailed our "no" votes. This was right after we dropped our kids at private school (our turn to drive the neighborhood carpool).

PAUSD gets our kids' spots to help mitigate overcrowding - that's more than enough.


23 people like this
Posted by Just more click bait
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 17, 2015 at 11:09 am

@ Bill: "This community needs to take a hard look at itself. How are we expected to raise educated , thoughtful, compassionate children when a segment of the community feels it is right to hide behind fake names and allow this newspaper to use them to take down good people..."

WELL SAID.

This forum is a joke. The Palo Alto Dog Trainer, er, excuse me, the Palo Alto *Weekly* is perfectly happy to host an anonymous online comment board that gives a few anonymous angry ranters a public forum through which to engage in character assassination, because it's more clicks for them.

It would be funny if it weren't so sad and damaging to the community and the schools. Something IS rotten in the state of Palo Alto, but it's not the schools. It's in a toxic community where people spew their rage and poison on this forum and then wonder why their own children are so stressed and overwhelmed. Well, at least some of that stress is due to the fact that they are being raised in an environment where their primary role models are purple with anger, fear, and rage, and are lashing out against the most convenient target. The helicopters buzzing low over Palo Alto that we have to worry about are not local law enforcement, they are the small brigades of parents who are trying to micromanage their kids' feelings, lives, experiences, and education, friendships, relationships, and emotions. There are a few people here who have clearly had bad experiences (it happens in every life) and are translating that into wholesale condemnation of a public education system that is one of the best in the country. People here who have no experience with less affluent or privileged community remind me of "the man with a spoon in his hand asking who ate all the apple pie."


9 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2015 at 11:21 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

"The helicopters buzzing low over Palo Alto ...are the small brigades of parents who are trying to micromanage their kids' .... There are a few people here who have clearly had bad experiences (it happens in every life) and are translating that into wholesale condemnation of a public education system"


So let's see if the school-shill has the script right:

1) blame parents for the schools problems

2) (admit parenthetically that there are a "few" problems") Like a few suicides, a few more hospitalizations, a FEW MORE watch list. Keep it in parenthesis though, because that is how you blame the victims - through implication that a FEW is okay...


3) ask for more tax money

4) respond in outrage and community blaming when you find your tax support trickling away with every crisis.

Got it. Right on script.


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Posted by Elena Kadvany
education reporter of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Apr 17, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Elena Kadvany is a registered user.

My name is Elena Kadvany; I'm the Weekly's education reporter. I'm working on a story on Measure A and am hoping to talk with people who oppose the parcel tax. If you're interested, please email me at ekadvany@paweekly.com. Thank you!


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 17, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Looking forward to that story, Elena. (I haven't voted yet.)


5 people like this
Posted by Healthy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2015 at 10:14 pm

"There are a few people here who have clearly had bad experiences"

Let's hope that's not what McGee thinks, or he'll never see what's coming down the pike this summer....

I just find it really sad that you imagine so many parents who were happily going along, volunteering in the district, fundraising, pleased as punch about the great schools, and then just become purple with rage for no reason at all, as opposed to, say, overwhelmed by trying to deal with incompetent administrators who take their petty slights out on families when the children fall through the cracks and the administrators don't want to face embarrassment because of other more public ones.

Fix the administrative rot, or the disease will come back just as bad as before.


4 people like this
Posted by Healthy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2015 at 10:22 pm

I think anyone in a high position in such a high profile school district who makes, prorated, more than the governor of california or the attorney general, and who has headed high profile efforts that spectacularly failed to affect this crisis and was only too happy to represent the district in the papers --

Especially when that person appears regularly on district broadcasts -- I think that person counts as a public figure as far as public discussion is concerned. I think if you look at legal precedent around education administrators, you will see the same standard.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2015 at 7:47 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Lee The

"Wasn't the original parcel tax sold to the public as a temporary measure needed to tide the school district over during the Great Recession?"

No, it was originally passed in 2001 then renewed in 2005 and 2010.


2 people like this
Posted by Just more click bait
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 18, 2015 at 9:38 am

@morning walk: "My husband and I enjoyed a morning coffee and then strolled to the mailbox and mailed our "no" votes. This was right after we dropped our kids at private school (our turn to drive the neighborhood carpool).

PAUSD gets our kids' spots to help mitigate overcrowding - that's more than enough."

That smug self-congratulatory condescension says a lot. So I take it you are perfectly happy to enjoy the high property values engendered in part by Palo Alto's excellent schools without being willing to add anything to the community other than the "spots" your privileged children would otherwise occupy? Wow, I guess the REST of us are privileged to be living here with YOU! I feel so fortunate!


5 people like this
Posted by Healthy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2015 at 10:02 am

@bait,

If "morning walk" owns a home in this town, such that they have property values to consider, they are paying private school tuition for SOMEONE ELSE to attend PAUSD, while they have to also pay for their kids to attend good schools elsewhere.

The main money supporting our schools is not at issue in this ballot, we pay that in our property taxes. This ballot is whether to renew a large tax that came up during the recession, when property tax receipts dropped at the same time as the state funding dropped. The recession is over. Property tax receipts are skyrocketing. The state recently made a major change in no requiring unfunded/heavy stringed mandates, trying to move control more locally.

I do not see what your intention is with your caustic snark -- do you think belittling fellow parents who are expressing honestly the situation they have found themselves in because our schools have problems NOT being addressed is going to help address them? In order to solve a problem, first you have to get out of denial about that problem. If children killing themselves and so many other parents like "walk" expressing honestly the problems isn't enough, then I don't know what is. If your only response to that is to dig in and snark at people trying to be real about it, then you are part of the problem.

You have reinforced what was a tough decision to arrive at, which is also to vote NO like "walk".


4 people like this
Posted by Healthy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2015 at 10:06 am

To clarify that further:

This tax is just whether to extend a supplemental, temporary tax from the recession. It's just not necessary now, and all the hyperbole only makes the yes side seem as untrustworthy as the district administration.

I would like to see clear numbers about administrative costs and where they go in this district, and how they compare to costs that go directly to educate our kids. If we need more money, our kids and our schools would benefit from looking at making our district work better first. Restoring trust doesn't have to cost money, it can save money.


7 people like this
Posted by Healthy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2015 at 10:18 am

Lee The and Jerry Underdal,

You wrote:
""Wasn't the original parcel tax sold to the public as a temporary measure needed to tide the school district over during the Great Recession?"
No, it was originally passed in 2001 then renewed in 2005 and 2010."

Actually, Lee The is right. The Dotcom bubble collapsed during about 1998-2001, though if memory serves, it took a few years for property value drops to propagate through, and Palo Alto didn't suffer nearly as much as surrounding communities. The temporary tax that this ballot would replace was proposed in that context, to shore up school funding locally during the recession. I don't know the exact particulars of budget cuts from the state, but I do know that sometime after 2005 there was even a 10% reduction from the state one year.

Property prices are well above their peak before the bubble collapse now, though. We really do not need this tax increase. We are much better off getting our house in order, and holding off on supplemental taxes for when we really need them.

My read on the district office is that they will probably even need more jolts than a suicide crisis and this vote going down to get the message, but they won't get it otherwise. Like "walk", I feel as a parent that voting NO on this one is the best thing for the kids.


1 person likes this
Posted by Just more click bait
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 18, 2015 at 10:20 am

@Healthy:

"they are paying private school tuition for SOMEONE ELSE to attend PAUSD, while they have to also pay for their kids to attend good schools elsewhere."

That is the most convoluted piece of reasoning I have seen in ages. No one is holding a gun to anyone's head and forcing them to pay private school tuition. That is completely and totally a choice, not something anyone HAS to do in addition to paying their taxes.

There are seniors in our community who qualify for an exemption from this tax - and that is for a non-convoluted, GOOD reason. Yet many of them continue to gladly pay the extra tax because they recognize the over-call social good that comes from being a part of that larger community.

"So many other parents" - I guess we'll find out how many that is when the parcel tax ballots get counted.

My point was more about attitude and privilege, and I will repeat what I said before: a lot of people on this forum remind me of "a well-dressed man with a spoon in his hand asking who ate all the apple pie." We are living at the pinnacle of comfort and modern privilege in this community but to hear it here on this forum you'd think it was the middle ages and the poor beset parents of Palo Alto are like common serfs suffering under the lash of the brutal Lord McGee, recently ascended to the throne after beheading Lord Skelly in a palace coup. Like I said before, it would be funnier if it weren't so sad and toxic.


10 people like this
Posted by The New Skelly
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2015 at 10:25 am

Property values will do fine without this increase. They will do fine without the renewal of the parcel tax, too, in the election to come if this measure fails. This is why the released public records of PAEA president Teri Baldwin's grievance--the one that was more important than any other issue in the last 10 years, even more important than consecutive suicides by children--will be remembered locally for years to come. Palo Altans want to support teachers and unions, but they also want teachers to be responsive and accountable, and they want unions to behave responsibly with limits to their power. In every release or demotion of a principal during the Skelly years, in addition to the recent moves of the elementary principals (are any of you buying the official press releases or do you realize how PAEA had its hand in it?), PAEA and its rule by the perpetually disgruntled few have been pressuring the superintendents into saving their skins by giving in to PAEA threats of grievances. The released letter of apology is proof of Max McGee and Scott Bowers in effect wrote the Denise Herrmann letter, though McGee called them his "edits." And then not just PAEA had to bless it the way that a king or queen would bless it, but CTA also had to have its ring kissed. What is happening with PAEA and the administration has nothing to do with kids. Sadly, the new parcel tax is also not about kids. The Weekly seems to take a few weeks off from reporting in-depth about PAUSD, accusations that it is out to get PAUSD won't hold up, but PAEA had better hope that the Weekly doesn't request any other public records, especially the private emails sent on the public PAUSD network. That's right, turn off the wifi connection and use your cell to send those emails during your workday.


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Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 18, 2015 at 10:49 am

Reason is a registered user.

"The released letter of apology is proof of Max McGee and Scott Bowers in effect wrote the Denise Herrmann letter, though McGee called them his "edits.""

Perhaps I missed yet another ball-blasting s**tstorm. Can you provide a link?

Thanks.


11 people like this
Posted by Healthy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2015 at 11:43 am

@bait,

"That is the most convoluted piece of reasoning I have seen in ages. No one is holding a gun to anyone's head and forcing them to pay private school tuition. That is completely and totally a choice, not something anyone HAS to do in addition to paying their taxes. "

Speaking of convoluted reasoning, you criticize parents for trying to point out problems in the district and improve it, you criticize parents for doing what their kids need when they can't fix the problems in our schools. The only choice you seem to think is acceptable is to send kids into circumstances their parents can see are unsupportive and may even be hurting them, and lie to themselves and everyone else that we're #!!

Do you know what is sad and toxic? Your attacking parents for not sticking their heads in the sand over some of the sad and toxic people at Churchill.

Our schools have problems. I am myself fed up with dealing with the drama and dishonesty from the district office and am considering doing the same as "walk", while working on a charter. My child has a right to an education in this district, and I think the parents and kids I've volunteered and worked alongside are worth overcoming destructive trolls like you to make our district better.

"walk" - Parent-to-parent, thank you for voting NO.


13 people like this
Posted by Healthy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2015 at 11:55 am

@bait,

How about putting your money where your mouth is? If you refund me the goodly six-figures I've have put into this district for k-12 with my property taxes, I'll be happy to quietly get the education someplace that supports things like creativity and honestly.

You know what? Parents trying to fix our schools and stop students from killing themselves is what PARENTS consider the greater good.

I didn't have an opinion about whether the supplemental tax should be renewed or not, but you are talking me right into wanting to actively campaign against Measure A. Fix the schools, don't throw more money at them when it's not needed, the community will be tapped out when it is.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 18, 2015 at 11:59 am

Slight correction for @Healthy (an hour ago) - property tax receipts never dropped.


17 people like this
Posted by Defending Icarus
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 18, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Unfortunately when they hold our children hostage sometimes they end up with Stockholm Syndrome, and they can also end up lacking in appropriate empathy. For example, here's one of our student board representatives defending the culture of competition against Frank Bruni in the NYT letters today:


"Frank Bruni’s April 12 column, “The Best, Brightest — and Saddest?,” featured my community’s struggle to come to terms with another suicide cluster. He painted a dismal picture of students crushed under academic pressure and a community with unrealistic expectations for its youth. But I think it is important to acknowledge that another side of Palo Alto exists. . .

"We dream big. We reach high. And sometimes we fall hard. But for some of us, it’s better than striving for and achieving mediocrity."

Rose. For those students who "fall hard" and their parents and friends it is not better than "striving for and achieving mediocrity in a context in which "falling hard" is dead, dead, dead [portion removed.] That is the context you are writing about, that is the argument you are rebutting by Bruni and you are astoundingly taking the other side, defending Icarus.

[Portion removed.] This is the sad harvest of the academic arms race in Palo Alto. God help us all.








23 people like this
Posted by Sad
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 18, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Web Link

So sad that our children are caught up in the fear of "mediocrity." We need schools that help our children to feel successful as they are, not caught up in a relentless, ongoing machine for sorting, tracking, and labelling. We need leadership that will tell the truth and act swiftly, not grudgingly eke out tiny reforms like zero period.

Max, the honeymoon is coming to an end. Will you break with the past and lead?


2 people like this
Posted by Just more click bait
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 18, 2015 at 2:49 pm

@Defending Icarus:

That's great. Jump on a teenager because she got a letter voicing a different point of view published in one of the country's most prominent newspapers. Imply that she is mentally incompetent and dismiss her very articulate point of view because anyone who disagrees with you must hate the children. [Portion removed.]

Stay classy, Palo Alto.


5 people like this
Posted by I can't remember the name I used
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 18, 2015 at 4:09 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Just more click bait
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 19, 2015 at 10:22 am

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by watcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2015 at 1:50 pm

"We dream big. We reach high. And sometimes we fall hard. But for some of us, it's better than striving for and achieving mediocrity."


I teach these kids. Their focus is narrow, their bubble has 9 layers, their parents have been telling their kids how awesome they are for years, they don't notice any students who lay beyond their socio-economic group, and their worldly views do not extend beyond San Antonio Avenue. It's sad, sad, sad, and more sad.


3 people like this
Posted by educator
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2015 at 2:01 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by What a difference a year makes
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 19, 2015 at 7:08 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Healthy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

@watcher,

"I teach these kids. Their focus is narrow, their bubble has 9 layers, their parents have been telling their kids how awesome they are for years, they don't notice any students who lay beyond their socio-economic group, and their worldly views do not extend beyond San Antonio Avenue. It's sad, sad, sad, and more sad."

Speaking of bubbles -- don't you think the school, where the kids spend the majority of the day and are taught from k-12 about the world, about other people, and where they spend the majority of their time socializing, and where they get so much homework that surveys show they do little else but stay at home doing homework, has anything at all to do with the fact that "their focus is narrow"? As a parent who has had to fight that, WHY HAVE I HAD TO FIGHT THAT?! Why can I not expect the school to respect that healthy development NEEDS, requires the ability to have autonomy and different experiences?

I do wish these discussions would get out of the old rut of thinking that challenging oneself is somehow a road to depression and mental illness (BTW: happiness turns out to be a side effect of applying oneself creatively to challenges), or of thinking that the only or even the best way to challenge oneself to excellence is through a traditional intense academic path. We are at a turning point, and if we are going to even pretend our schools are great, the one thing we MUST NOT DO is get through this unchanged.

watcher, as a teacher, you can be a part of positive change. Do you look for opportunities to do that, or when a parent comes to you with a complaint about homework or even an effort to improve the schools, when you see a child has gotten the short end of the stick because of bad administrative practices, do you get involved, or do you figure even if you support whatever it is that you're too busy, and you don't want to rock the boat?


5 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2015 at 11:29 am

I notice tonight the Board will be discussing changing their policies for reimbursements to board members and health benefits for them and their families , all supported by taxpayer dollars.


4 people like this
Posted by naive
a resident of Triple El
on Apr 21, 2015 at 10:23 pm

naive question here:

if parcel tax has to be increased and extended to protect PA school programs in booming economic times such as now, what should we expect to happen when the economy turns south?

will there be a need to increase yet again?
why does not this district, or any other entity using the public's money, try to save during the abundant years to make up for the skinny years?

will you vote to increase the tax or extend it in 5 years, when things have turned south??

seriously....


4 people like this
Posted by Dire need, indeed
a resident of Triple El
on Apr 21, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 16, 2015 at 11:31 pm

As I said in the other thread about Measure A, before you vote do some research on how well-managed the $378,000,000 construction bond issue that passed in 2008 is being managed. The PAUSD cried "dire need" and the bond issue passed with 77% with the proviso that all of the funds had to be spent to satisfy those "dire needs."


Hmm, let's see.
Ohlone installed automatic sliding glass doors (hearsay, not seen myself).
Duveneck scrapped down new fence, and installed another one within the first year because neighbors complained..
Duveneck is having custom furniture made because the new classrooms are too small (this is the first year the new buildings are in use).
this is what I hear from neighbors and read online.
do these sound like smart usage of the construction bond money??


2 people like this
Posted by Why does PAUSD need 2 new deans for middle school?
a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2015 at 10:21 am

Both JLS and Jordan already have 2 assistant principals to support the principal. (Terman only has 1, probably since it has a smaller student body.) The new PAUSD budget addition approved last month includes 2.8FTE for Middle School Deans but, unlike the other less expensive additions, never explains WHY these new positions have been created or why they are needed? The job posting lists responsibilities that would seem to be covered by an assistant principal (i.e. a lot of "assisting" duties). I have never heard of Deans for middle schools (only for colleges at universities)! An article mentions this role has been questioned at another middle school in the U.S. and that the justification given was a lower salary (due to teacher versus admin prereqs) but the PAUSD job listing requests both....

I have to echo other posts questioning the ballooning of the administration (PR, data guru, student research coordinator) and now this....To all who voted in favor of Measure A, it really seems like a lot of the money is going to increased bureaucracy and administration, not directly to student instruction! ...not to mention the $300,000 addition in legal fees for OCR and "difficult personnel" on top of all this


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2015 at 10:45 am

Adding insult to injury, PA Online has now restricted the results thread to registered users only.

This election is beyond credibility in its unfairness.


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

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