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Board of Education votes to put bond on November ballot

Original post made on Aug 7, 2012

The $260 million bond would be used for technology infrastructure improvements -- equipment, cables and software -- for schools, as well as new classrooms to prevent overcrowding and to help make sure kids can go to schools in their own neighborhood.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 7, 2012, 11:57 AM

Comments (52)

Posted by Terrence M
a resident of Danville
on Aug 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Previous parcel taxes / bond excluded senior taxpayers, of which are increasing in the SRV.

No mention of this exemption was made.

Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2012 at 6:58 am

I remain suspicious of Board meetings held in the morning when the vast majority are at work and then those that do show up voice no opposition to anything.

Posted by George
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 8, 2012 at 7:08 am

Are your frikken kidding me?... We have a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to raise taxes on ourselves... again? Do we all look that supid? Really? If the district would ever do a top to bottom structural audit on itself, making the necessary changes to make it lean and mean, more property owners and taxpayers might take this sort of bond more seriously. But, alas, it's just more fat being extracted from already lean taxpayers and being poured on the already out of control fire tended by the whiners who run the school district. No more taxes. See you at the polls.

Posted by sponge_bob_roundpants
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2012 at 7:28 am

is this the same school district that had to redo the Monte Vista pool a few years back because the "deep" end wasn't deep enough for diving? Or they had to tear down and rework the support girders in the new gym because of cracking?
Say no to ineffective, unqualified school board. They are taxing us to death.

Posted by tom
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2012 at 8:45 am

what fools we are we keep electing these people to get in our pockets once matter how much money we give the schools it is never enough.. and it gets old "its for the children" we have to build or repair it for the children yeah four years for the use of a new swimming pool, four years for a new gym.. and then what their gone and we have another bond issue for the next four thanks... lets do something for everybody..... and start by telling the school board to stick it

Posted by LMP
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2012 at 8:46 am

Not again. "Once in a lifetime opportunity" to say "no mas" bonds. Especially when the board holds a hearing when most of the taxpayers cannot attend because they are working.

Posted by Louie, a former teacher
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2012 at 9:12 am

Just say NO. As stated above, novice administrators overseeing major construction projects produce expensive uh-ohs.

(And pleeze-geeze, don't get on a riff blaming teachers for financial crises. Volunteer to work, not just visit, a classroom for a week. Taxpayers get "their money's worth" from teachers. Cut the "extras" and get back to basics.)

Posted by Anne
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2012 at 9:52 am

Last time I checked, there are 2 bonds on the property tax bill I pay to SRVD. It won't ever stop as long as the district keeps going to the tax trough and taxpayers keep buying the district's pleas for more. We have a great school district because of the teachers and parent involvement. Yes, there is overcrowding but that's because of overbuilding sanctioned by the towns and city councils. They should cut back on the bloated administrators and teacher salaries first. No one in private industry gets paid that well with the cadillac benefits and vacation time. It's a big joke and the taxpayers are the ones duped.

Posted by Marilyn
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2012 at 10:00 am

Hey Louie - no need to get defensive about comments about teachers. I read one of these posts the other day from a reader who suggests teachers need more educated in their teaching field and it did remind me of the 12 field trips I literally drove the kids to in first grade! Twelve!! That is almost one every three weeks of a school year. This same teacher spent over $300.00 of Parent Donated Classroom Money that was "left over funds" to buy McDonald's lunches for all the first grade classes in June. Please don't lecture about the values of all teachers - we all know there are the great, mediocre, and horrible in the field of public education. When the teacher's of Calif. get their marching orders from CTA, there are many things that are indefensible about how they regard tenure, pensions, law suits...

You're right that these are two different subjects. State school funding and district waste!

Posted by Danville PI
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2012 at 11:43 am

We moved here 13 years ago for the great public schools offerred for our daughters. We have benefited well.
The current and consistant pleas on the taxpayers by the snibbling School Board is getting to be a huge distraction. I assume they don't have to balance a checkbook like I do on a daily basis. No money means we don't buy it. I learned that lesson early. Prioritize people, act like you have an education in business matters and put some thought into what is required of you and do it. Don't think you can always fall back on us because you can't project and figure how to operate within your budget. We do.
Lets look at my tax bill (remember we purchased in 1999)
Total of all assessments: $1345.
Amount that goes to SRVUSD: $512.

Now consider as we approach a new school year, the "funds" each school attempts to strong arm us into paying at registration time. $300.00 per student as a "donation". Then the teachers will send home with the students a laundry list of things they need for the "classroom" (kleenex, wipes, pencils). That bill is always good for another $75.00 plus, correct? And yes, the teachers will send home a supplemental list later in the year as all of the Kleenex have been used up and your child has to use their sleeve.
Decide not to pay the school's fund/donation at registration? Well you will stand in a "different line" at registration, one marked for those "non-payers" or non-supportive parents. I learned the real story early on in my eldest child's registration process. I never pay that "donation" or as one school calls it, the "Shark Fund".
On the same page in today's Contra Costa Times (just below the SRVUSD story)is a headline stating: "Walnut Creek board raises developer fees". The article points out that Walnut Creek voted to "more than double the fee the district charges developers on new housing". Gary Black is quoted as saying that there isn't enough money being brought in by developer fees at SRVUSD. Hey Gary, read the WCUSD story, might be an option you can try.
Gary Black is also quoited as stating that "Rather than waiting to see if the State will pass a statewide bond measure within the next two years, he (Black) said putting the board's bond measure on the November ballot was THE BEST OPTION". Hey Gary, was it that, or was it the "easiest option".
The figures the Board uses for all of their "projects" are not true numbers, I believe, as I assume they have not PAID for estimates of repairs/new construction/modernization. Construction costs will undoubtedly "change" within the next few years, making their "bond" not able to cover future costs/estimates.
The term "modernization" appears very open ended. What does that mean? New paint? Powerwashing the quad? How about new carpet in the class rooms? They have recently done that at Charlotte Wood. New carpet in the classroom. Imagine that next time a kid comes to school sick and vomits while at their desk. They'll need to replace all the mops with carpet steam we go again!
Speaking of Charolette Wood, did you know that some special school committee asked all parents to contribute/donate monies to "modernize" the teacher's lounge? Seems like it wasn't a "Happy Place" to have lunch.
It appears the school board is out of touch with the day to day operation of their individual schools.
This bond is for 25 YEARS folks...consider that.

Posted by Dave
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2012 at 11:55 am

Good logic, Marilyn. Give an example of one teacher who doesn't use the best judgment (as your only example) -- which kind of insinuates that there must be many other teachers falling short of expectations.

My experience in Danville over the years of observing my children's teachers in the classroom is that once in a great while there is a sub-par teacher. But, the vast majority of them are caring, hard-working, very educated, and hardly over-paid.

We are lucky to have such a talented group of teachers in Danville and the test scores and college admissions rates of the students bear this out.

But, it doesn't come for free.

Posted by calvin
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm

How about the solar panels they installed recently at the high schools. They get paid off in 25 years and have a life span of 25 years. Doing the math, the moment they get paid off, they need to be replaced! Great management - I say a resounding no on the bond until we replace the entire board with one that realizes that the homewoners are getting taxed constantly by mismanagement of existing budgets.

Posted by David M
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Aug 8, 2012 at 8:01 pm

SRVUSD please stop already. Stop campaigning at PTA meetings. Stop claiming the sky is falling. Stop threatening us regarding what will be taken away or lost for our students. The money has to be used for facilities but we all know that it frees up funds in other areas so that the salaries/pensions can be paid. It doesn't add up and the taxpayers can't foot the bill anymore. Get back to the basics, stop wasting so much time, money and manpower campaigning for more funds and educate our children. SRVUSD start from the top - cut salaries, get rid of lifetime health care for retirees, make meaningful contributions to your pensions, go to a 401K system, raise retirement age etc... Don't threaten us that you will have to cut more programs for our kids, don't threaten us that you will have to make the school year shorter. Don't implement more work furlough days and then turn around and pay the the people that took the furlough days! Do the jobs that you were hired to do. I get so upset when I see comments "We have great teachers" Shouldn't that be a qualification? Shouldn't that be expected? Shouldn't all the students have the right to this? Oh right, I forgot about the union.

Posted by Darrin
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 8, 2012 at 9:51 pm

NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Marilyn
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Yes Dave, our kids had some wonderful teachers in this district the past 15 years; on the flip side, they had more than a few teachers who were useless. The one teacher I mentioned was supported by the entire first grade department and by the principal. So, it wasn't just one teacher begging for classroom donations while spending 12 days a year out of the classroom with our kids, buying them "happy meals" with our own money - It was a mind-set that MANY of the teachers, principals, and the district has about begging for money and expecting to get it from the affluent families who live here. "it doesn't come free" Dave; our family has worked an excessive amount to "buy" this wonderful education for our kids in this affluent district! We purchased a very sub-par home in a very expensive area so we can play with the BIG DOGS! We pay, and pay, and pay local, state and federal taxes, to expect less and less and less - while the CTA, the district and state educational board whine and whine and whine about having to do more with less.

There is some truth to this, BUT there is a choice for all of us in this state! We can VOTE - VOTE the very inefficient, Union sympathizing, liberal career politicians out of every single office in this state and at some point, our expectations may be heard, so we don't have to hear another teacher, principal, and district administration employee or district board member say, "WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO, BUT CHARGE THE FAMILIES IN THIS COMMUNITY TO PAY MORE FOR THEIR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION?!"

Posted by Concerned
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Once again and as stated above lets get rid of the waste at the District Office. So many people to do only one task. Try it like the private world does. Trim the fat, do more with less and get rid of all the different positions. Do we really need so many directors of secondary education like Kirby Hoy and Rob Stockburger to drive around the district drinking coffee all day? I think not. Instead let's hire someone who can manage building maintenance.

Posted by Bill
a resident of Green Valley Elementary School
on Aug 9, 2012 at 6:55 am

There have some excellent ideas in this thread. A top to bottom audit available for the citizens to see easily and not hidden would be a start. Another audit of jobs and responsibilities by school department to really see if their is duplication of jobs and top heavy administration. That is easy to say, but let's see if there is proof of this. If there is waste of taxpayers money, how much is this? If the district is unafraid of oversight then this information should be readily forthcoming. If there is any foot dragging then we have part of the answer and will need to dig deeper. Being a member of the school board means accepting having your feet held to the fire to substantiate any position you take. It's pout up or shut up time in the district.

Posted by Educated Mom
a resident of Danville
on Aug 9, 2012 at 7:36 am

Why are we letting other, less qualified, uneducated people teach our children? I know I can do a better job.

How does this Board of Education determine the curriculum? Over 100 years, the curriculum hasn't changed but the cost to fund education has gone up... hmm???

Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Aug 9, 2012 at 8:10 am

Dear Educated Mom,

Well, the curriculum has changed a little bit. There's this thing called "technology" which all our students have to be thoroughly competent with. It's new and it's expensive.

Has your life changed (dramatically?) because of technology? After all, you did use a computer to post your message here...

Posted by Mom
a resident of Danville
on Aug 9, 2012 at 8:33 am

Educated Mom, the union won't let the cream rise to the top (teacher wise). They teach to the test, the STAR test. Next week's calendar shows a SIX WEEK window of testing!!! This is when we get lectured to feed our kids a good breakfast. Seriously?
Danville Pl is so right about all the costs that we are about to pay for registration in public education. Ed fund "donation", classroom fund "donation", at our school there is not supply list, no a $90 donation, followed up by the request for kleenex and paper towels. And then there are all the participation fees.
25 year bond, NO WAY. The hands will be out for more before all the parcel taxes and bonds are paid.

Posted by Mom
a resident of Danville
on Aug 9, 2012 at 8:42 am

*next YEAR's calendar shows 6 weeks of testing. sorry for typo.

Posted by Louie, a former teacher
a resident of Danville
on Aug 9, 2012 at 10:43 am

Educated Mom, the curriculum has changed a lot. The curriculum has been dumbed down substantially the past 100 years. Knowledge is regarded as superficial while vague "understanding" is valued- "understanding" is, btw, different than application. In all my years of teaching, I was forever curious about the disconnect of "understanding" something one didn't know! All the years of debate: phonics/see-say; "new math," on and on. Real learning and real mastery takes very serious DISCIPLINE. Mental and social discipline are "dumbed down" in public school. Are you sure you want simple, civil, discipline? Right now, teachers have their hands tied. Glad I'm retired(from both my jobs- I could not support a family on a teacher's salary.)

Parents not only want "quality" education, but also "quality" grades "given" for showing up- not performance. Are the "best" teachers the "hard" teachers or the "fun" teachers? And what of this notion that the students should "have a buy in?" What? First I have to convince eleven year olds that they should "want" to learn something and eventually, maybe, get to proceed with the rigors of true content?

I have asked this before: Are you REALLY, REALLY ready for teachers to gear up and do what they would like- grade on merit- not your demands? Most of the parent conferences I had over the course of my career were with parents wanting me to raise their student's grade- not on merit- but because the student "did their best." Frankly, "best" sometimes isn't good enough for first place. Look at the close contests in the Olympics. Until we all become comfortable with the fact that not everyone merits a trophy, teachers will be hammered with the double talk of quality education frequently meaning undeservedly high grades.

Re: the local union. It is a pretty weak outfit. Don't put too much energy there. CTA? Many of us NEVER would have joined, didn't want to join.... did you know that California is NOT a "right to work state?" Vote out ALL union power in all industries and see REAL change.

(Oh, David. Do you perform your job minute by minute at the same quality you expect from teachers?)

As always, I will vote "NO" on bond measures due to the poor record the district has in overseeing construction.

Posted by Dave
a resident of Danville
on Aug 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Marilyn -

So, is your complaint about the quality of the teachers, or the cost, or the outcome (performance of the students)?

Because from my observation: (1) the quality of the teachers is very high overall (a few anecdotal exceptions to the contrary); (2) the per pupil spending in our district is relatively low compared to urban district (historical fault of the state legislature's formula for funding), even with the extra, "voluntary" fees that we are asked to contribute and which no one likes to pay (I also know of many instances in which teachers reached into their own pockets to pay for supplies or extras in the classroom.); and (3) it's hard to argue with the outcome -- 98-99% of our high schools' graduates are accepted to college (outstanding rate versus almost any other district in the state).

Posted by Informed Parent
a resident of Danville
on Aug 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I Did go to the meeting two days ago at 8:45 am and here is my summary:

Everyone who spoke publicly, spoke in favor of the $260,000,000.00 on the upcoming November ballot.

A PTA rep spoke, a retired teacher, the Education Fund president, the Golden View Elementary School librarian, Bill Clarkson (past board member and real estate agent), and a facilities committee member. A letter was read publicly written by a past board member in favor of the bond.

The facilities member did mention to the board that they might want to be more specific about the itemized costs of the proposed projects. Board member Greg Marvel did respond to the suggestion. Marvel actually said, "We don't want to lock ourselves in" the details of the projects etc. "If we get too specific, then we have a problem." Really Greg??? Is that how you feel when you get an estimate or a bid from a contractor for a
room addition to your home, or for a kitchen remodel?! Do you encourage the contractor to be vague about the actual financing until the job is done twice - because the first subcontractors screwed up the first time?

Regarding the language of the bond proposal, Marvel said, "....the language provides a balance between's not as detailed as we like but it's good." Really Greg??? Who is "IT" up to?? You are watching out for us remember??

Board member Denise Jennison mentioned that the San Ramon Valley Board of Education has been actually discussing this bond since January. Talk about trying to appear as an objective board member regarding this bond initiative?! - Jennison and her business partners of their small consulting group (they help school districts pass bonds in their communities) have been discussing this bond days after they got our last bond passed in our district. One of the partners discussed the need to start working on the next bond DAYS after our last bond passed!!!

Our public school district is not supposed to be involved in a capitol campaign mode year after year for public education. Board member Greg Marvel again suggested that this bond will "...bring a once in a lifetime opportunity with the low interest rate towards this opportunity." We're paying off three "once in a lifetime opportunities" at this point and a solar panel project "once in lifetime opportunity" supported by the White House at this time.

I'm tired of these opportunities.

I've been to the state of Sacramento to "talk" with our elected politicians - sadly I voted for none of these politicians. ALL are democrats and have been for years. Since the 70's when the Teacher's Union began to destroy our public education system we have been caught between the unions, the teachers, the district and the state. No one is held accountable because the bureaucracy is a perfect place to hide and blame. The parents lose and the obvious and worst part about all this greed, our children rank lower than most states NOT just in funding (Nationally) but in test scores and achievement!! Is this really because we need a new 18 room classroom at Monte Vista High school? Or because we need to replace "district wide" synthetic turf fields? When our family can't replace it, we just don't until we can with the funds we have or plan for.

This wish list of Capital needs has got to be seen by every family in this community. Maybe the SRVUSD has been speaking about this bond since January (or years ago when the last bond was passed) but the community has NOT been speaking about it with estimates and facts.

The private Catholic schools go without for years until they can gather the funds supported by their parents for the specific things they need - why can't our districts stop being so greedy?

Obviously our money is buying a mediocre education for our kids; don't fool yourselves into thinking they're being challenged and graded accordingly. Social promotion in this district is popular because parents can't truly handle and accept their kids are not the "best" - Money bought their expensive homes in this area but not necessarily the education. The kids continue to the next class level year after year, along with the English Learners who have practically private tutors teaching in classrooms - along with the private bussing for handicapped students, along with the one-to one- tutoring for special needs students.

MY POINT: There is not enough money to go around and the State of California is at fault for this mess, ultimately. VOTE them out - don't vote for union supporters in any political position. Time to water down the Union importance in public education - and then maybe we could pay the great teachers what they really deserve and bring the teaching profession to the level of high achieving countries and some of the states in our Nation.

BTW: How do private Catholic schools succeed, encouraging academic high achieving students? Their teachers are paid lower than most public school teachers. They don't Have to accept disruptive students in their classes. They have the support of the families and the school administration to boot the kids out who negatively affect the kids who DO want to learn.

So, for $54,000.00 ($2.50 per voter) our district can now place a bond on our November ballot hoping for a 55% vote in favor of spending millions and millions of dollars for district improvements guided by a board who would rather not talk about the specific details of the funding of these projects. BTW: Greg Marvel did mention the amount of $199,000.00 at the time he was discussing the $54,000.00 for this to go on the ballot as a cost to the district. Don't know if that figure was applied to bond advisors or what? Not sure now if the cost to the district will be $54,000.00 or $199,000.00?

Finally, at the end of the "bond" portion of the SRVUSD meeting, I did try to stop and speak with the facilities committee member who spoke at the meeting. He wouldn't speak with me or answer my questions. We didn't know each other so I don't think he was avoiding me personally? I believe they are supposed to avoid talking parents in the community. Maybe he has a vested interest in working on these projects if the bond passes. Who are the people who were on the facilities committee? Any conflicts of interest?

Is there such a thing as independent politicians? Probably not in this liberal state, so maybe the only thing we can do is continue to question our district and the schools about how they spend the money they rake in and then most importantly, SEE THE FiNANCIALS from the district prior to their begging.

Posted by Susie
a resident of Danville
on Aug 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Greg Marvel is running for another term on the board. He claims to be a conservative, but he is accepting money from the teachers' union for his campaign. Now more than ever he is speaking out from both sides of his mouth.

Posted by Louie, a former teacher
a resident of Danville
on Aug 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm

If the cut off for an "A" in a math class is 90%(rounded up from 89.5%), and your child earns an 89.4%, will you (1) "meet with the teacher" to try to negotiate a higher grade, or (2) console your student with, "I know you are disappointed; 89.4 is still a very respectable grade"? (A silver instead of a gold medal....) If your child earned a B+ by .1%, did the student have a "bad" teacher?

Vote "NO" on the bond and remember to support the teachers to whom you entrust your child for at least 6 waking hours per day.

Are you practicing and reinforcing good manners these few weeks before school starts?

Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Aug 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I could vent my total frustration as well with SRVUSD's Board, but the BEST thing to do is plan to vote NO in November and enjoy the rest of your summer with your kids! :)

Posted by Marilyn
a resident of Danville
on Aug 9, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Nice suggestion to the rest of "us" Douglas; the sad part - this is what the board members could only hope for at the end of the day. When the school year begins, many community members will be too busy to focus on the fact that there IS and WILL be the choice to vote NO when they see this Money Grab on the ballot. After the teachers, principals, and the district have beaten down the Parents using their children as pawns, they will crumble when it has to do with "their" school and their children...the boards tyrannical train is getting ready to roll.

Start talking with the community ASAP.

Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Aug 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I don't know about you, Marilyn, but no one changes my vote once my mind is made up, so I really am not sure what you would like me to say. The only thing I could really add, is it is just going to come down to the sheep that you are talking about in your post.

Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Aug 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Oops! Comma is in the wrong place. Sorry!

Posted by Marilyn
a resident of Danville
on Aug 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Douglas, you must have great blood pressure! Have a good rest of the summer.

Posted by mom
a resident of Danville
on Aug 9, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Informed Parent,thank you so much for your post! If only all the uninformed or uninterested (ignorant) voters could read your post. Regarding the facilities committee, Denise Jennison said (at the July 30 meeting) they (the committee which included her and Rachel Hurd) had gotten input from "over 50" parents in the district.
I agree with you and all you said, especially about the greediness of this district. The Board has apparently decided that since these projects are a)necessary and worthy, b)supported by those 50 parents, and c) less than the $400M they really wanted, that the voters will naturally support it.
I expected to hear some discussion about the liklihood of passage. That was discussed prior to the parcel tax decision.
How many times do you think we will hear how its "for the children"?

Posted by Nan
a resident of Diablo
on Aug 10, 2012 at 9:06 am

Exactly what will have the community members so busy after school starts and these(see "Mom" above) uninformed, uninterested, ignorant voters will have warehoused their children in schools with teachers and principals they neither like, nor trust?

Posted by Jeff
a resident of Danville
on Aug 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

Here is the link to the searchable database for those that have made it into the elite group of the CalSTRS 100,000 plus club. This is the teachers union that the SRVUSD employees belong to. SRVUSD currently has 18 members in the club at a cost of 179,167.56/month. Steve Enoch has yet to be added to the list.

Web Link

The Contra Costa Times has also updated the employee salary database. You can see where the SRVUSD is spending tax dollars. Majority of those employed are contracted to work 184 days a year, receive lifetime health care benefits (18,000 plus per person) and COLA increases. This is about funding out of control salaries and pensions. Danville residents, we should consider breaking away from San Ramon. San Ramon has a history of over compensating public employees and offering out of control pension plans. San Ramon had the second highest paid city manager in the state of CA! The first was the city manager in Bell and he is behind bars. San Ramon also had the highest paid fire chief. The pensions between the two public service employees are still seen as some of the most lucrative deals made to date. This isn't the first time SRVUSD has been under the microscope for questionable bond spending. See here, the grand jury recommendations made in 2000.

San Ramon / Grand Jury Reports On School Spending

Read more: Web Link

The GJ also made some pretty blatant recommendations to the city of SR regarding salaries and pensions. This cannot be ignored.

Currently, the city of Stockton is trying to default on its bonds obligations in favor of paying the pensions. We will be dealing with this sooner than later if things don't change. There is no money to go around because it is all being spent on salaries and pensions. The district knows that taxpayers are feed up so they try and pass another bond and make certain to state that the funding won't be used for salaries. They fail to mention that they need this money because majority of other funds has to be used to pay inflated pensions and benefits they negotiated. Sense of entitlement and disregard for public service is apparent.

Posted by Marilyn
a resident of Danville
on Aug 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Thanks very much Jeff, for the web link information. I can't imagine that any teacher in this district, whether they are a parent or not, can't see the subject of unions in our education system as being anything but an indefensible nightmare and crime against the public.

It's a shame because there are many fabulous teachers not only in this district but in many other districts who are put in the middle of the parents (politically) and the district and state. graduates continue year after year to go into a profession they are determined to work in as a career.

Wouldn't it be great if the people of this state pressured our politicians (ALONG WITH ALL THE SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS AND SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS) to face the problems the CTA and NEA (National Education Association) bring into the teaching profession. Maybe then the excellent teachers could be paid what they truly deserve; they could get back to teaching, the principals could run a school site without their hands tied and our kids could compete with all the other countries who rank above us in Math, Science, and even English in some cases. Can't see that happening to this once productive state; not with all the liberal "career" politicians up in Sacramento and across the rest of the state.

Posted by Unglued
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 10, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Marilyn, our teachers are paid very well... They only work nine months of the year...they are not entitled to a 12 month salary...

Posted by Ashley
a resident of Blackhawk
on Aug 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Technically, they only work 186 days leaving 179 to do what they want. Their salaries are amamzing for that kind of work!

Posted by fed up
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 11, 2012 at 2:38 am

That's right! Let's cut the fat. All teachers should be highly-educated and work for minimum wage!

Posted by Jeff
a resident of Danville
on Aug 11, 2012 at 11:10 am

I think it is important to not make this into something that it is not. I don't think anyone is implying that teachers and administrators should work for minimum wage. However, it is time to take a look at the pensions and salaries that are being awarded. Our district may not be the most funded but did you know that on average, teachers in Ca make more in RETIREMENT than those actively teaching in 28 other states. Pension funds are bankrupting cities and district. Did you know that teachers in CA rank number two for the highest paid in the nation? Did you know that SRVUSD offers lifetime health benefits to retirees if they have completed seven years of employment. Did you know that Stockton is claiming one of the reasons for the fall was the mounting costs of the health care obligations promised to retirees. The SRVUSD only offers choices that involve kicking the can down the road. According to Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy Research, pension costs grew 11.4 percent per year between 1999 and 2010. While other services are cut, pension costs go nowhere but up. If investments perform somewhat well, the unfunded liabilities of California’s largest state and local pension systems are about $500 billion. The Contra Costa Times reported: California’s pension debt amounts to $30,500 for every household in the state. Good teachers or not, let's stop kicking the can down the road and deal with this issue that is bankrupting cities and school districts. If we continue to ignore this, our kids will be the ones that suffer.

Posted by my2cents
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 11, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I'm not sure how the salary structure for teachers work, but I would hope that the high school teachers earn a higher salary than the elementary/middle school teachers. After all, the coursework is much more difficult. Teaching advanced math like calculus vs. teaching 2 + 2 = 4 does make a difference.

Posted by Marilyn
a resident of Danville
on Aug 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I agree with you "Unglued" - the teachers are paid well for the nine months they work. This includes all the holidays they don't work in the school year as well. They will tell you the hours pile up terribly in their evenings grading papers, etc. They are supposed to stay one hour after school lets out but from what I know and have seen, that doesn't happen all the time either. So if they spend long hours at home at night working on their class of 20 or so kids, maybe they have a slight problem with time management. Don't think parents really care where they do the work, but the whining about all the hours they put in "outside the classroom" does get old.

I think it's a crime to see the excellent teachers who make an actual difference in our children's success and achievement; paid the same in some instances, as the lazy or inept teachers who aren't capable or interested in challenging our students. The staff at the schools in our district know exactly which teachers are failing our kids in the classrooms. Even with substitutes covering at least half a year of a class The principals at the primary, secondary, and high school level know exactly which teachers have the most complaints from the students and parents for most of the time Very Valid reasons. I would like to see those teachers fired - ( we know the unions don't fire for any reasons). Second best solution, pay them the least amount possible compared to the outstanding teachers at our schools -

The "teaching" unions have put this state where it is today. And by the way "Fed UP" - Most of the older and current teachers coming out of colleges (at least in this state!) are NOT HIGHLY EDUCATED! They are NOT prepared to teach Science and Math in middle and high school, let alone English and History. Graduating in communications, or business, or parks and recreation in four years with an additional year in the field does NOT QUALIFY these teachers to teach and challenge our students in math and science. They are NOT highly educated - that is the biggest problem with our teaching credential program in California!

Posted by Dave
a resident of Danville
on Aug 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Marilyn -

You are generalizing again. Middle school teachers not qualified to teach science? Are you even qualified to evaluate their abilities? When my daughter took 7th grade biology at Charlotte Wood recently, her teacher was excellent. The material that she taught and her effort with the kids were outstanding. Far beyond the level of what I remember our teachers teaching many years ago.

Oh, and they don't work only 9 months out of the year. It's closer to 10 months and, yes, they do work into the evening grading papers, preparing lessons, and corresponding with parents.

It's interesting to see how people's dislike of paying taxes translates so quickly into generalized and unfounded teacher-bashing.

Posted by Marilyn
a resident of Danville
on Aug 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm

There's so much to discuss in this field it's difficult NOT to generalize.

And you bet I'm qualified to "evaluate" the teachers and the schools. You don't have to be a brain surgeon to see the waste of funding and time that occurs in many classes and schools.

I've had kids go through several schools in this district and yes Dave, I do pay taxes. That makes me qualified. I've done my research, worked in all my kids classes through out the years, worked on committees, worked with the district on committees and Yes Dave, I am qualified.

What makes you qualified to have opinions? Rose colored glasses?

Posted by Kimberley Gilles
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Aug 12, 2012 at 11:27 am

As I read the string of comments about the school bond measure, I feel disoriented. The San Ramon Valley has built a school district renowned for academic, atheletic, artistic, and creative excellence. Alumni from this district can be found at major universities and corporations across the globe. This school district -- and the students, teachers, administrators, unions, community members, and school board members who power it -- is extraordinary. Members of this community enjoy the bragging rights ... and the property values ... that accompany such a high-powered institution.

But as I read the comments about the school bond measure, a bond measure that is designed to fund only structural and architectural additions to schools, I find EVERY aspect of schooling in this valley coming under fire.

As an English teacher with 26 years of experience, the last six at Monte Vista High School, I feel a profound disconnect between the vitriolic comments I read on-line and the friendly face-to-face contact I have with parents who come into my classroom. With few exceptions, I find the parents/voters gracious and grateful. They value what I do and make me feel appreciated; I perceive no hint of resentment. I am treated as a professional and revel in the respect I am granted. I think my parents believe I have EARNED it.

Then I read the string of comments in this publication, and I stare in disbelief, wondering when did teachers and the communities they serve become public adversaries? Is this truly the quality of discourse we need to secure a quality education for American school children in public schools?

I love my job. But make no mistake -- it's a job -- and a challenging one at that. I wouldn't love it as much if it didn't require all my skill, creativity, and stamina.

Tust as I am beginning to feel the usual excitement about returning to my classroom, I encounter the vilification of teachers, administrators, and school board members in a district that is thriving despite serious obstacles. It discourages me.

Posted by Jeff
a resident of Danville
on Aug 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Kimberley, I would advise to not take these comments personally. It sounds like you are a dedicated teacher and It is my belief that the frustrations being voiced on this thread are coming from those that have had less then favorable experiences within this district. Unfortunately, as you can see, it is happening. I too, sense the frustration and disappointment within the community. Sounds like you would be a great candidate to support merit pay and 401k structure. It is apparent, this isn't about serving yourself but it is about serving your students and community. I don't necessarily share some of the frustrations that others have voiced but do believe that the district should not ignore these complaints. It is time for salaries and pensions to be addressed in an open climate. I sense that the school district has an agenda and they want to force feed the citizens what 'they' believe is right. And, unfortunately, they have proven that this involves reaching into the pockets of its citizens. This district has a history of borrowing and placing the burden on the property owners. We can't continue to kick the can down the road. Other concessions must be brought to the table. I want to hear about what the school district is doing other that asking 'US' for more money. I don't have the luxury of tenure at my job, nor the luxury of a guaranteed pension. I must depend on the stock market performance for my retirement and not a guaranteed payout provided by the taxpayers. I can't mobilize and strike if I think something is unfair. I can be fired at any time for poor job performance. I have competitors fighting for the same clients that I am going after. I face competition. I have taken 3 pay reductions over the last 36 months ranging form 22% to 8%. While difficult, I have managed to budget my check book and make concessions. I love my job. My coworkers and bosses have also made similar concessions. I do not have the luxury of receiving pay increases for time served. I have to earn it. Good teachers shouldn't mind competition and merit pay. So, asking for more money is not the answer that some want to hear right now. It makes me believe that self entitlement is far outweighing public service. This isn't about being a great teacher. This is about making concessions and balancing a budget. As a parent, it is difficult to watch the district threaten the thing we value most...our children. My wife thinks that if anything negative is voiced regarding our concerns, our children will receive bad teachers. I thought she was being ridiculous to make such a comment. I have to tell you Kimberley, I have since seen this play out. As you can imagine, this is very disconcerting to say the least. I think that this is where some of the discord is taking place within this community. These are some of the frustrations I have and why I feel disconnect with the district and what they are asking for. Anyone can now view the database for public employees here. Web Link

Posted by Marilyn
a resident of Danville
on Aug 12, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Jeff: Fascinating information from the Mercury News web site regarding salaries of our SRVUSD employees. The rest of the 99 % of the citizens are working to pay for their salaries and pensions. What is SO difficult to understand for teachers and administrators and board members is that YES, there are many parents who have different philosophical differences in how money is raised and spent in this district. We are asked to give and what do we get in return?? This is big business in California. Whether a teacher is a purist or not, they all know that public school business is big business. Ask the publishers in this district how much funding goes into the material they print for our schools? And, then after the wording is changed a little here and there, the district can be billed hundreds of millions again several years down the road because the state education board decided to add or delete some subject in the material. Several years ago the state (aka; "unions) decided that our California needed to incorporate lessons in the material teaching the history of Cesar Chavez. Approximately $38,000,000.00 from the state paid for that (our money) and the teachers had no idea how to add that subject into their studies for the five days it required. No one talks about that now, but I never saw our kids come home with that lesson in their homework. Where did that money go? Of course there is the GLAD pressure to add more information on gay and lesbian lifestyles sot he teachers can introduce that subject into their material throughout the year and we wonder WHY our state is undereducated in science and math, etc?

Thank you Jeff, for your voice of reason and logic here on this site, regarding the spider web of truth and information connecting SRVUSD employees. With little emotion you are absolutely correct in mentioning that we (parents) are tired of not being able to question or remark on anything that has to do with salaries of teachers.

Kimberely, we have Absolutely been a target of immature and vitriolic behavior from principals and teachers when we dared ask questions about how decisions were made or how policies were put in place at the primary and secondary school level. For daring to question anything that seemed eschew in some of our children's classes, or to question the PTA's agenda at the meetings, or the school site Education Funds practices, we were absolutely treated with such disdain personally, that there wasn't a doubt in my mind that our kids were affected. I won't bore anyone with the details unless you want to hear All of them on this comment site. One slight example: I asked my child's fourth grade if the kids who weren't taking "band" could do something constructive other than watch Disney movies? The next day it rained at lunch, the teacher put the movie in for the kids and singled my child out (in front of the class) and told her, "your mother doesn't want you to watch this so you need to do something else." That was difficult to explain to my 9 year-old and I did contact the teacher about this, not that it helped matters.

Kimberely, public schools are a very political environment for parents. You may avoid many of these problems at the high school level with the parents. You don't require the money from your parents personally or up front during the school year. You absolutely don't require or request parent help in your classrooms to assist you in teaching the way elementary school does and you wouldn't have it any other way I'm fairly sure. Please just understand that parents put a lot on the line if they speak up or ask questions regarding funding and policy etc. Teachers and administrators feel particularly threatened if we share an opinion, let alone suggestions for heaven sakes...Not all schools are equal across the board. We all have different experiences but it doesn't mean we are making this stuff up or are trying to stir up problems in our public school system. We all know there have been problems in this system in California since the CTA began to grow into the monster that it is. As a teacher you are connected to this fact whether you acknowledge it or not. However, with that said, our family appreciates great teachers like any other family in this district and everyone knows who those teachers are at the schools their children attend. You sound like a devoted teacher. Please just try to understand that many, many parents have nightmares we could share.

In September, teachers show the parents at back-to-school night where the volunteering sheets are placed and let them know that that they can't teach without the help of parents in the special reading hours or the computer sessions, or the library sessions, or the math groups. They need snacks on birthday days, and snacks and food for special school occasions, and help with PE groups and lunch duty and yard duty! Of course we have opinions and comments regarding money and how the teachers handle all the man power help and the financial help. The union doesn't require teachers to be out at yard duty so in our school parents were absolutely necessary. And...they weren't paid for their time.

With 20 kids in their classes and often teacher aides in the classes, there is not reason teachers should question why parents have opinions or suggestions and comments regarding the teaching field.

Posted by The Real Tom
a resident of Danville
on Aug 13, 2012 at 7:36 am

I enjoy this debate. All these people against the tax. Aren't the same people who

1. Are proud of the fact that SRVUSD is one of the top districts in the state if not the country

2. Defend to the death Prop 13

Cant have it both ways.

Posted by Sally
a resident of Danville
on Aug 13, 2012 at 9:55 am

Real Tom,
Not only are they proud of the fact that SRVUSD is a high performing district, their home values reflect that fact.

The bottom line is that this district wouldn't be what it is without the investment the community has made in it. An investment that sees a return in the form of home equity and quality education.

Kimberley, thank you for your thoughtful post. There have always been teacher bashers, but it's at a fever pitch in this country right now.

Posted by Dave
a resident of Danville
on Aug 13, 2012 at 9:55 am


Whether you like your child's teacher or think they are doing a good job educating your child has nothing to do with whether the facilities of the schools need repair or modernization.

Some people simply don't want to pay for the quality education that their children are receiving, or that their children already received, or other people's children (even though other people already helped pay for their children's education).

We are a community, and education is one of the most important things that we pay for - and which returns benefits many times over to our community and country.

Posted by Louie, a former teacher
a resident of Danville
on Aug 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Real Tom, etc. Please review Californian public school financial history beginning with the 1971 Serrano decisions. Not everything in California is Prop 13 based.

And again, while we are teacher bashing, I want to ask, "Is it the 'hard' teachers that are the problem?" Are we all practicing our manners as we get ready for the new school year? With students who come to school ready to learn, teachers have a lot more time to deal with content instead of discipline.

If your student doesn't "get" the grade you think they should "get"(not necessarily earn), do you evaluate the teacher as substandard?

Posted by Becky S.
a resident of Diablo
on Aug 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Start budgeting for facilities and upkeep instead of relying on the homeowners to bail you out year after year. Hard looking at the tax bill with all of the bonds plus the parcel tax already on there.

Posted by Informed Parent
a resident of Danville
on Aug 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Here's a few questions for the community and board members who are blindly supporting this tax proposal we "get" to vote for on the ballot this fall:

1. What will the SRVUSD do with all the funding they receive in two years when/if the tax money comes in from the state (Brown's tax initiatives)??? -

2. What are the Facts about the "matching funds" that the state will pay towards maintaining the facilities regarding the amount we spend in this district? This particular subject was not discussed in detail at the meeting, but it was vaguely mentioned by the board members.

SO... the new proposed bond initiative the school board is asking the community to approve on this November's ballot dropped from from a Half Billion dollars tax; sorry, rounded up $100,000,000.00, (they're just figures right?!) down to Only $260,000,000.00 - I can't help but wonder what else was on that list that the board decided we could actually live without for the time being?

Remember, this is a "once in a lifetime opportunity", as was stated at the board meeting August 7th, by each one of the board members at the board meeting. All five members are surely in full agreement on this subject. When aren't they, come to think of it?

I would love to see the itemized "wish list" the district put together prior to the board members removing $140,000,000.00 worth of "needs"... Which options got cut from the chopping block?

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