Town Square

Teachers rally behind 'state of emergency' week

Original post made on May 4, 2011

The "state of emergency" resolution addresses the potential financial crisis the district faces if the state adopts a "cuts only" budget. Projections for SRVUSD show a potential loss of funding ranging from $10 million to more than $25 million. The cuts could result in increased class sizes and a significantly shorter school year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, May 3, 2011, 6:26 PM


Posted by George
a resident of Alamo
on May 4, 2011 at 6:14 am

The whole educational system in CA needs a structural audit. Throwing more money at it won't fix its problems. Meanwhile, the teachers still don't seem to get it. Their demonstration indicates that they still whine over funds while the state sinks into bankruptcy. Their attitude is so "yesterday". Get with it teachers... pressure your corrupt union to do something for the kids for a change rather than remaining so self serving. Whaddya say?

Posted by Sqeaky Wallet
a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 6:33 am

George, you sound like you are from Pleasanton, where homeowners just defeated a school district parcel tax, Measure E. If you are so unhappy with the schools in this area, why don't you move to Pleasanton.

Posted by George
a resident of Alamo
on May 4, 2011 at 7:05 am

Squeaky... thanks for the advice. Don't need to move to Pleasanton. Our kids have been in private schools since 6th grade. It took us that long to determine just how pathetic the "fine public schools" are in Danville/Alamo.

Posted by LMP
a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 7:08 am

School districts need to live within budgets just like families. When times are tough you don't purchase solar panels and new busses. (If you lose your job you don't go out and buy a Prius)Teachers should protest the excessive amount of administrators and their salaries.

Posted by Duffy
a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 8:45 am

When all is said and done it is the students who suffer from this politically motivatred "state of emergency" week!

Posted by Ellie
a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on May 4, 2011 at 9:17 am

The problem???????? The teaching profession should NOT have to be unionized!! It's a profession that should speak for itself! Teachers should go into teaching because they love teaching, and not to see how much money/entitlements they can reap from it. A truly dedicated teacher does not watch the clock and stop "teaching"! This State of Emergency Week only shouts to the community how spoiled the profession has become. This is for the children? I don't think so!

Posted by FanDanville
a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 9:52 am

Ok, both the School Board and the School Union are joining to agree to this "resolution."
(Be nice if they would join together to reduce school costs.)

So what exactly will the teachers be doing during this resolution week? What have they been instructed to do?
Will they be receiving PAID TIME for their "protesting" and "political" action?
Will they be taking time off from teaching?
Will they be "teaching" their students any content about this subject matter--namely conducting "propoganda" for their possible benefit and from their bias.

Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 10:10 am


That sounds kind of scary. Should we stay away from Stoneridge Mall on Tuesday? I don't want to get trampled by a mob of overpaid teachers.

Posted by Louie
a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 10:14 pm

To Ellie: Your tone suggests that you have had some bad experiences with teachers.

To Others: My children did well in the SRVUSD. They had a few awful teachers; however, most teachers were dedicated and did an excellent job.

As a resident of the community for over 35 years, and as a teacher, I must clarify that my pay and benefits looked fairly comparable to low level management in other industries. My career choice dictated that I would maintain that low level; in spite of education and performance, I would not have the opportunity to "move up" the corporate ladder(unless I changed paths and became an administrator).

To the Judgmental: Some of the emails I received as a teacher, based on addresses and times sent, suggested that more than a few parents in other professions were using their employer's time to write to me. (No wonder some of my students thought they were entitled to do what they wanted- when they wanted.) During the 35 years I taught, I would never have considered putting my class on hold to take care of personal business during my "work" time. I was "on the job" every minute, every day.

Regarding the Union: Union membership was not optional. I would have preferred that the mandatory Union deduction from my check be used to lower class sizes. My choice was to pay the Union, or not be employed as a teacher.

I voted against every bond measure of the past 20 years. I saw the waste first hand. I did my best for 35 years to help my wife raise our children and to educate yours. I was a volunteer coach for your child's team; I volunteered at other community organizations. Not all teachers are lazy, liberal, Commie rats.

Generalizing about teachers or issues isn't a solution. How about my solution? Union dues go back to districts until the California budget is balanced?

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Thank you, Louie, for the only voice of reason above.

Have any of you spent time in your child's classroom or at PTA meetings? There are a LOT of dedicated folks working hard on behalf of kids and getting paid a pittance to do remarkable work. Want a change? Get involved! I don't like the union either, it's totally unnecessary. We need accountability in our schools, adequate funding for facilities and supplies, motivated and respected teachers, and involved parents who support their child's learning AND the schools that teach them.

Posted by SRVUSD parent
a resident of Alamo
on May 6, 2011 at 7:18 am

Concerning the solar panels: the school district did such a great job researching the financing of the solar panels, that the district will start saving money on its energy bills the very first day they flip the switch on solar! The SRVUSD will save money by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, protecting the school budget from rising oil prices, providing local jobs, and producing clean, renewable energy. Kudos to our school district for its innovative and forward thinking project!!

Posted by psmacintosh
a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2011 at 10:21 am

Dear SRVUSD parent,

Are there various types of government subsidies involved in these solar panel purchase?
If so, then other members of society (taxpayers) are paying part of the price of these panels.
If so, then you might not be taking into account the actual FULL PRICE behind the production of these solar panels, just the price paid by SRVUS, in your claim that the panels will pay for themselves and save or even make money for SRVUSD.
Now it's OK to only look at the cost to SRVUSD. After all, why not take advantage of the taxpayer suckers who are getting shafted by these governmental ploys and perks thrown at "special interest" supposedly-green, environmental businesses. Why waste these monetary benefits that would otherwise go to others or be wasted?
This type of logic is how the government sucks people in--come feed for free at the trough of Big Government spending--to its philosophy of having Big Government run everything, including running or manipulating the domain of free enterprise business.
So, I'm glad that you think the solar panels make sense for SRVUSD, but they don't necessarily make sense for the country as a whole.
Why not let the solar panel industry stand on its own two feet without subsidies, like any other business? Then if it makes good sense (financial and otherwise) to people to buy panels, they will. Quit artificially manipulating the business decisions!

Posted by Audrey
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on May 6, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Solar panels.... get out the shades. Monte Vista's field lights are frequently on at night when the playing field isn't even in use. With "energy savings," those lights might be on 24/7.

Posted by SRVUSD parent
a resident of Alamo
on May 6, 2011 at 5:31 pm

To the community member who is upset that there are government subsidies for solar panels, may I point out that there are subsidies for oil companies as well. The bottom line is, the school district is going to save money on its energy bills in a time of budget crisis, and is at the same time helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and helping create local jobs. It's win-win, which is why so many school districts across California are going solar.
We are starting a group at the SRVUSD to improve energy conservation at the schools and hope that Audrey and everyone will join us.

Posted by dave
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on May 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm

structural audit, parcel tax, unions, solar panels. wasn't the topic "state of emergency?"

face it, neither an institution nor a sound bite "state emergency" can "fix" anything. one teacher, a one room school house and a chalk board could offer up a good education. more pay/less pay, unions/no unions, solar panels/no solar panels- the real "state of emergency" is lack of individual responsibility.

the more self disciplined the students, the more a teacher can do. is it really money that would improve california education? maybe teachers would think their pay and benefits were adequate if all they had to do was "teach."

Posted by Vince
a resident of San Ramon
on May 9, 2011 at 2:34 pm

The myth of the Solar panels "paying for themselves" from day 1 is ridiculous. If you look at the ROI data which was provided to the School District by the solar panel companies, it is extremely optimistic and doesn't show a break even until well into the 2nd DECADE. Bottom line the district is borrowing $25 million dollars in a time of budget crisis with an unproven ROI. The fact is the facilities director who drove this project is the SAME facilities director who is being sued for sexual harassment. Sounds like a person who you'd believe vetted this properly. These solar panels are going up this summer to ugly up our schools. They will not pay for themselves, and will be stolen rampantly as they are in other installations. Who's going to pay to constantly replace these stolen panels? The School District with taxpayer money. Maybe the teachers should be protesting that. Next time the parcel tax comes up for a vote, remember this solar panel debacle, because you're stuck with it.

Posted by dave
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on May 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm

good point, vince. adding another chore to the maintenance list would probably lower time available for routine maintenance elsewhere- unless there is money for increased maintenance personnel.

but about the "state of emergency," if all students behaved properly, the school day would be a lot more efficient and pleasant for those who want to teach and those who want to learn.

Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on May 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Let’s stop funding SRVSD through Sacramento and instead fund it through local taxes. Sacramento has proved time and again that it cannot be trusted to do the right thing when it comes to education.

Sacramento classifies SRVSD as an “agricultural” district and consequently Sacramento gives SRVSD $3,000 - $5,000 less per pupil than many neighboring school districts.

Let Sacramento’s tax extensions expire. Then let’s have SRVSD make the case why it needs more funding. In all likelihood, we’ll be persuaded and vote for another parcel tax like we have in the past.

In addition to taxes, many of us continue to donate many thousands of dollars to SRVSD because we believe it is the right thing to do.

SRVSD, we believe in you! You are doing a great job! Don’t let Sacramento get you down. We have got your backs!

Posted by psmacintosh
a resident of Danville
on May 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm

"Sacramento classifies SRVSD as an “agricultural” district and consequently Sacramento gives SRVSD $3,000 - $5,000 less per pupil than many neighboring school districts."

Maybe this "agricultural" classification needs to be challenged.
I wonder how the classification is defined and measured? I wonder if the School District is fighting the legality of this classification enough?
First, is the "agricultural" classification itself a valid, reasonable, non-discriminatory, and accurately ascertainable classification?
Second, does the SRVSD really meet that standard?

Is the State going by "zoning" designations?

I see a lot of open-space ridge land and park property around (often due to environmental requirements). Is that what is costing us to receive less school monies?
I don't see much farmland, but do see some ranch land. Is that what is "agricultural"....and is causing us to receive less educational funds?

How much are we losing each year?
Maybe it would be economically beneficial to us to actually pay the private ranchers NOT to ranch.....or to disallow the tenant ranching on public properties, and thereby change the use and thereby the classification of the land to something non-agricultural.

Maybe the School District should put more effort into fighting this issue--of having SRVSD receive less funds--by attacking the elements of payment schedule itself on legal and factual bases.

Posted by dave
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on May 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm

now we're talking "state of emergency." the funding referred to above dates back to formulas from the 1970's- interestingly not prop 13.

what has joan buchanan done to ameliorate this?

this disproportionate funding schedule has been in place almost 40 years. citizens of this valley pay more and get less. for years, orinda and lafayette schools were considered "better" partly because they received more per pupil spending. the donating generosity of srvusd citizens continues to help "level the playing" field for valley students.

Posted by Connie
a resident of Diablo
on May 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm

See: Separate And Unequal: Serrano Played an Important Role in Development of School-District Policy
By Art Coon of Miller Starr Regalia

Posted by Mke
a resident of Danville
on May 10, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Hey Tea Party folks. The educational system out here is what keeps your property values high. What keeps the educational system first rate is the teaching staff. Destroy the teaching staff and you are destroying, not only the future of the United States, but your property values. Said another way, you are cutting off your nose to spite your face. At a time when citizens need to support the educational system, they are using it as a punching bag. China and India are producing ten times more technical and scientific graduates as we are. Meanwhile, the tax payers are enjoying great delight in destroying their educational system under the guise of lower taxes. If this destruction of our educational system succeeds, it will usher in the decline of our nation.

The future lies with the nations that can give their populations the best opportunities to get an education. We need to ensure that the United States in among those nations.

By the way, elementary, middle school, high school and college instructors in the United States earn far less than their peers in other advanced nations.

Posted by psmacintosh
a resident of Danville
on May 11, 2011 at 9:59 am

Throwing MORE MONEY at the educational problem has NOT WORKED in the past (for so many years).
Putting more money into the hands of politicians, to then distribute it back to the school systems in some fashion, has not worked to cure the problems. In fact, it has fostered the problems by giving more power to political "special interest" groups that have legislated policies that strangled the basic education system and provided less education to our students.

Eventually, we in the U.S. will be sending our kids to foreign countries to get good schooling. Oh wait, foreign countries aren't going to let our kids come in and suck their systems dry (like we do). Oh wait, our kids aren't going to be able to keep up with and study as hard as foreign kids (because they have been trained in a system that has weakened them so much with such low expectations and standards).

Posted by Highlander
a resident of Montair Elementary School
on May 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Why do we allow our children to be taught within a monopolistic system controlled by tenured socialized union members?

For everything else related to our kids, we are hypersensitive: there are drowning warning labels on buckets, we drive our kids everywhere, won't let them play unattended in the park, can't let them sit in the passenger seat of a car, they must where helmets for everything, they can't use composite bats in little league and the list goes on and on and on but for some reason stops at K-12!

The answer to the problem is CHOICE AND COMPETITION!

We ought to gather signatures for for an amendment to the constitution via a referendum that increases per pupil education spending indexed to inflation while at the same time grants vouchers to parents, bans teacher's unions and and bans tenure.

We need to have a student first attitude and force those that are employed by the taxpayer to compete for their employment with no guarantees. Good teachers would bear no risk and bad teachers would have to seek their employment elsewhere.

Posted by Connie
a resident of Diablo
on May 11, 2011 at 7:42 pm

So, no one read up on the "Serrano" decision? It explains why SRVUSD gets less per pupil than many of our neighboring and county school districts.

Your tax dollars are being redistributed by a socialistic system that far exceeds the reach of the teachers' Union.

Tax, spend, waste is an ethically "bankrupt" approach to sustainable economics. Are "Tea Party folks" being criticized for expecting accountability and less waste?

Since this conversation is supposedly about our State's funding emergency, this might be the forum to bring up the great pay, perks, and pensions our socialized legislators grant themselves. How about writing state and national amendments that require elected officials work for the same wages and benefits as teachers!

Posted by Daughter of a Teacher and former SRUSD kid
a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on May 13, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Teachers unions are set in place so teachers can have a livable salary, support their families, have benefits and make sure working conditions are decent. Teachers unions are set in place to make sure the passionate, well educated individuals teaching our children have the opportunity to teach our kids to the best of their ability.
The union represents the rights of our teachers. People who become teachers do not jump through the many CA licensing hoops for the pay. That I can tell you for a fact. Have you seen the pay checks? I think instead of bashing these supposedly oppressive teachers unions, why don't we think about how we can better support our teachers so they can better support our children.
The unions are not the problem.
Can you imagine if we paid our teachers what they are worth, increased their benefits and gave them incentives besides their passion for education? Can you imagine the better environment your children would be in?
Teachers will always be passionate about their chosen profession, but the unions help them stay motivated. If one is not paid what they are worth, how long do you think they will last?
I am pro-union and proud of it.

Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on May 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Daughter of a Teacher: It is admirable that you want to support and defend your parent who is a teacher. I also appreciate your honesty in stating that the union "represents the rights of our teachers" and are in place to help teachers with their salary and benefits. The problem that I, and many others have, is when the teachers union claims that their primary interest is our children and their students, which we all know is not true. The reason it is called the teachers union, and not the "what is best for the children" union, is because it exists to increase salary and benefits and rights for teachers, often at the expense of students and the school district and the parents of the community. You need to remember that teachers only work 10 months of the year, and there are no other "professionals" who get the summers off, and thus their salary and benefits for only working 10 months of the year are quite good. When you factor in the pension, and the fact that after two years they have tenure and can not be terminated even when they are horrible at their job, you must realize that the teachers union is the reason the schools have no more money and are increasing class size and cutting programs that actually would help the students. If the teachers union was as honest as you, and did not use the fall premise that their primary concern is our children and their students, I would appreciate their honesty. What I do not appreciate is when they claim to speak for us parents, which they clearly do not, as their primary goals of getting more money and benefits and pensions and not being able to fire them hurts our children, and hurts the educational system.

Posted by Daughter of a Teacher
a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on May 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

I am not only supporting my father. I am supporting every professional teacher. (Notice, I did not use quotations around professional, I suggest you do the same). Teachers unions do know what is best for the kids. They know that when teachers have a worthy salary, benefits and pensions they will be better teachers. As in any profession, if you are compensated appropriately for your job, you will continue to be motivated to do well.
Teachers unions understand that when a person feels that their endless amount of work is noticed and paid for, the students will have a better environment to learn in. Making sure teachers are paid what they are worth means that the many hours planning, grading, creating progress reports, calling parents on their own time is worth it. Teachers do this already, but I don't know many professionals that have to take mountains of paperwork home and grade/prep/plan on the weekends with a salary as low as a teachers. Maybe this explains the high burn out rate for teachers?

The union is not the reason why we have to cut class-sizes and cut programs. It is the lack of funding that has been cut time and time again by people who support a smaller government. Unions want the smaller class sizes. They want to teach specialized classes to help our kids get a well rounded education. But, of course if there is no money from the government to pay for paper then things will need to be cut. I don't think teachers pay, benefits, or pensions is where we should be making the cuts. If Wall Street isn't getting a pay cut, neither should our teachers.

Let's think about all the people that would be amazing teachers but don't because they know they can not support a family a teachers salary. Those that go into teaching, are not in it for the money. They are in it because they want to teach our future doctors how to read, our future engineers fractions, not because they know the pay is superior.

Seven years ago when I told my father, a teacher for 21 years, that I wanted to follow in his foot steps and be a history teacher, he advised me not to. He said don't become a teacher until they are treated with the respect they deserve. I followed his advice but will always support teachers unions and their constant struggle to get the things that are necessary to make the classroom the best place for not only our students but our teachers as well.

Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on May 17, 2011 at 8:25 pm

American - something you said struck a nerve because it is repeated again and again (and again..). Teachers are only PAID for 10 months of the year - their salaries are based on a 10 month annual salary! They do not "get summers off." Rather, they are not paid for the summer to begin with.

If you want summers off, I encourage you to enter a profession where the population you serve is not present during the summer months - but, be prepared to take a salary reduction to compensate.

Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on May 18, 2011 at 7:11 am

Diane: I believe it is semantics we are discussing...Whether the teacher's contract only gives them a check for 10 months of the year, the salary at the end of the year comes to a total...I have heard local teachers complain that locally they top out at a year end total salary of $80,000(does not include all those benefits, pension, etc)That is $80,000 for working 10 months of the year, and whether they get checks every week or not, it totals $80,000 for the year. Hence, if they worked 12 months of the year like most people, that would be $96,000 a year. If you then factor in the very good health benefits, and pension, they end up making more than many of the parents who are constantly asked to donate more and more money for the so called free public education.

Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on May 18, 2011 at 9:35 am

American, I have 28 years of experience in my profession and I completed post graduate education. I have never been fired or laid off and I have been offered every job I have ever applied for. Yet, my salary for 12 months is less than what some of my teaching friends make for 10 months, even though they may have fewer years experience in their field. I don't believe they are overpaid - rather, we chose different paths where professionals in my field tend to make less money. If they worked 12 months out of the year - they would be paid more as their salary is currently based on 10 months of work. Your point seems to be that you think teachers are overpaid - on this point, we disagree.

My contribution to the school is a contribution for the overall benefit of the student body - not to the teacher. I don't expect the teachers to purchase supplies for the students. I don't purchase supplies for the benefit of the families I serve either.

Posted by Peter
a resident of Danville
on May 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm

The problem, in my opinion, lies with the unions protecting each and every teacher and giving them all tenure after only two years. If you've ever watched the movie "Waiting for Superman" you will know that tenure can be very damaging to a community or school district. Teachers can not be fired unless the district adheres to a very arcane set of rules that the union intentionally requires the district to adhere to, or the teacher can not get fired. This process then has to start all over again. The end result being is that most district rarely bother with firing any teachers anymore, and instead just keep on passing the undesirables around within the district each year. Now, if you were to replace this right to tenure all together, with a merit based pay system, we would easily be able to weed out the teachers that were not, or are no longer fit to teach, and we would have lots more money to go around to allow really good teachers to be very motivated to make over $100K annually, which then would be compensation that is truly earned, kinda just like in the real world. It's just interesting that tenure rarely occurs anywhere else, in any for profit, non government environment. Unions and tenure truly is what is killing and bankrupting this state of ours. It's unfortunate that Brown got elected by them so don't expect any real changes soon.

Posted by Tea Party Patriot
a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on May 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

It's clear - we need to get rid of unions, tenure and those free loading special ed kids and their parents who are sucking our schools dry. Better still - let's all homeschool our kids!

Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on May 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm

@Peter - I completely agree on the issue of tenure! My kids have each had a teacher or two who were clearly in the wrong profession, and were protected by their tenure status. Though I don't agree that we should do away with teacher unions I think this particular benefit it a huge mistake.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on May 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Teachers in the U.S., in general, and California in particular are grossly underpaid. If you believe an education is the key to both the success of the individual and the nation, our educational system and the teachers and instructors who make it work are essential. The quality of schools in the Diablo Valley is not only vital in educating our children but also in maintaining the desirability of our communities and our property values. Destroy our school system and you are cutting off your nose to spite your face. By the way, teachers put as much time into their work as multi-million dollar salaried CEOs, yet are paid 33% less than comparable private sector employees.