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Los Altos district asks voters for new $193 tax

Original post made on Apr 13, 2011

Mountain View voters living within the Los Altos School District's boundaries are being asked to approve a new $193 annual parcel tax to benefit local schools. Measure E will appear on the May 3, all-mail ballot.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 11:48 AM

Comments (228)

Posted by Spaghetti Freddie, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Not sure I agree with what either side says here, but I think it is difficult to look at the school district budget and say labor cost is not an issue. Not just teachers, everyone there.


Posted by Covington Parents, a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Well, we just voted NO. No regrets. We are expected to make painful cuts as a family and live within a budget, and even more so in hard times, and so should the school district. I maybe would be more sympathetic to the tax, if it were not for the fact that we drive our kids all the way to the other side of town ever since the school board decided to ignore our appeals to our logic and economics a few years back! Sorry, I have no sympathy for their appeals now.


Posted by vfreidin, a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm

VOTE NO, Tell big Union Gangster, "not in my town".


Posted by Rick, a resident of Willowgate
on Apr 13, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I'm wondering why this is a flat tax, and isn't being done as a percentage of property value. We should keep property taxes based on property value. A small house next to the freeway soundwall shouldn't be taxed at the same rate as some of the multimillion dollar mansions that are taking up acres of prime property.


Posted by Los Altos Resident, a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2011 at 2:28 pm

We do have great teachers, and we have many tenured teachers. They are NOT necessarily the same. The best teachers sometimes lose their jobs in lieu of the "seasoned" teachers - a California problem, but a problem nonetheless. Reasonable salaries? Perhaps. But did you know that the Los Altos School District approved a salary increase for LASD teachers even when they knew it was unsustainable? The biggest issue for our California (and schools) budget is benefits for government workers - cut that vs. class programs. Can't do it? Find a way. I vote NO.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 13, 2011 at 2:33 pm

$75K+bennies/year? for only working 3/4 of the year? SWEEEEEET!
I always heard how underpaid teachers were. I must have misunderstood.


Posted by Justthefacts, a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm

District (SC County) Avg Yrs Teach. Avg Sal 2010 Inc 09-10 Teachers FTE Super. Salary
MOUNTAIN VIEW-LOS ALTOS UNION 11 $99,353 4.20% 199 $229,157
LOS GATOS-SARATOGA JOINT UNION 16 $92,725 1.70% 165 $191,445
PALO ALTO UNIFIED 13 $85,360 1.60% 733 $260,466
EAST SIDE UNION HIGH 14 $79,285 2.20% 1,212 $218,172
SARATOGA UNION ELEMENTARY 11 $78,286 3.30% 128 $212,215
EVERGREEN ELEMENTARY 13 $74,978 1.20% 662 $200,676
FREMONT UNION HIGH 11 $74,635 1.80% 456 $294,185
LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY 14 $74,463 1.20% 232 $206,595
LOS GATOS UNION ELEMENTARY 13 $74,445 1.50% 154 $192,962
FRANKLIN-MCKINLEY ELEMENTARY 14 $74,008 1.40% 462 $203,228
SANTA CLARA UNIFIED 11 $73,381 3.70% 718 $195,475
MILPITAS UNIFIED 13 $72,935 1.20% 455 $207,104
CAMBRIAN ELEMENTARY 13 $72,876 1.80% 161 $175,000
LOMA PRIETA JOINT ELEMENTARY 18 $70,128 -1.20% 21 $139,900
CUPERTINO UNION ELEMENTARY 10 $69,624 2.00% 836 $297,057


Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Any educators out there wishing to join the discussion?


Posted by steve, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm

It is absolutely heartening to see how people waking up to the chicanery perpetuated by the teachers' unions in the name of education. The cynicism with which they claim to be "fighting for the kids" is jaw dropping.

As justthefacts statistics show, teachers are not underpaid in this state, nor should the top performers be. Unfortunately all too many do not perform and are both leveraging seniority or sitting in tenured positions. It is time for eliminating tenure and introducing a merit based system. Promote the best teachers and absolutely pay them top dollars.

Furthermore, why not more competition? Why the ridiculous union negotiated cap on charters schools? Why not allow parents the choice of sending their children to private schools (Vouchers)?

History has taught us that monopolies seldom lead to efficiencies. it is no different with education - especially government run education


Posted by Unfair, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm

From what I recall, the superintendent of Los Altos is a trust fund baby from Los Altos. How much do you want to bet the property taxes he pays on his house were the value his parents' sold it to him years ago under the parent child exemption? How many other trust fund babies in Los Altos are paying rock bottom property taxes while they ask the rest of us working stiffs to pay much higher property taxes, another 570 already for the schools, and now 200 more? What a racket.


Posted by Los Altos Resident, a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Well, it is one thing to think that there should be a change in teachers' unions/salaries. I think many could agree, but that misses the point. The current predicament in LASD was not caused by the teachers or any out of control expenses. LASD is managed well. This is a revenue issue.

LASD revenue received from CA has been reduced by $millions over recent years, and the district has done an admirable job of maintaining an excellent education for our kids in the face of these cuts. But the continued cuts are just too much, with a projected $4-5M deficit for next year, and some drastic changes will need to be made, with out without the cushion of parcel tax revenues.

In this case, no matter the statement you might want to make, a no vote hurts our kids and whole community. A yes vote helps all our kids/schools (including the charter). Apply your best common sense. This is not about teacher salaries (at a reasonable level in LASD), it is about educating our kids, and whether we are willing to step up when needed to keep top schools.


Posted by Justthefacts, a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm

LASD Superintendent pays $2,400 a year in taxes for a Los Altos home with a market value of approximately $1.1 million (0.22% of value). Next door neighbor pays $18,000 a year

Re previous post, MVLA HS district has second highest paid teachers in the state, $550 per year behind Montecito Union (home of Oprah Winfrey)


Posted by BuD, a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm

School Districts....
Get used to the new reality. This is a look at the future.


Posted by Los Altos Resident, a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Maybe some discussion about the parcel tax might make sense here.

Wish I only paid as much property tax as my next door neighbor. LASD superintendent or not, what is the relevance? Maybe you are misplacing your concern.....

What might be best for the kids for the next few years? Fire the teachers and the superintendent because they make a reasonable salary or don't pay enough in property tax?? Is anyone who wants to vote no to send a message to the teachers willing to step up and follow through their message with some more constructive action over the coming months and years, or is your job done after you stamp ballot?

The parcel tax is part of the short term solution to a serious revenue problem (tax expires after 6 years if I remember correctly). Other changes will need to be made, but if we don't help to cushion the blows in the short run, while working toward longer term solutions, our schools will be in trouble.


Posted by Solution Man, a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm


Here is a way to get out of this mess and it's not to throw money at the problem, rather it's the only way to fix this mess.

Fire everyone and rehire those that want to come back at a rate that the school district can afford. Simple. Get ride of the outrageous pensions that grows exponentially each year. By the time you reach retirement age, you should have your house, your car, your boat, there for you should not need your full salary when you retire. 15% should be a good pension benefit, or join the rest of us with 401k.

Get rid of the double dippers, once you retire and decide to go back to work your pension should stop until you stop working again. Once this is done, hire some good accountants that know how to manage money.

Simple, problem solved.

The whole reason Prop 13 was put into place is so that people living on fixed retirement income will still be able to live in there homes that they paid good money for back in the days.

This makes me sick that they beg for money. Like the article said, in 2002 the people were hit with a big increase in property tax and that was when economically the times were good. When will this cycle of always needing money end? Never?


Posted by let'sgetreal, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm

No No NO!!
I agree with the Covington Parents. Everyone needs to realize that things have CHANGED.
Good grief!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by Jeff, a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I live in an apartment. My child goes to school in a Los Altos school. For me, this is a no-brainer. Spend another $193 per parcel, divided by the 60 apartments in my building, yields less than 3.25 in additional tax for me next year. Yeah, I think I can pay that.

Now will the Los Altos school fundraisers stop calling me and asking for money please?


Posted by Marcia, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I am a teacher in the Los Altos School District. The salaries listed by one reader are incorrect. LASD is in fact one of the lowest paying districts in Santa Clara county. LASD teachers have NOT had a raise in several years.

Many of you don't know know the number of hours we put in our work. I go in on weekends at least 2-3x/month just to stay afloat. Expectations are high and I am meeting them. Thank you to the MANY parents who are understanding and supportive. I get infuriated when I hear or read about people who don't really know what educators do. It seems as though of you who are so critical and don't have a real understanding are the ones who squawk the most.

My husband and I are voting YES, YES, YES on Parcel tax E! The Parcel tax does NOT fund staff salaries but helps the district overall.

So, get your facts straight and do unbiased research. We, LASD, are the ones who are keeping your property values high.


Posted by Los Altos parent, a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2011 at 9:02 pm

$193 more? Come on people, that is NOTHING compared to what we make! I'll play a few less rounds of golf this year.

We need to support our great schools here. We chose Los Altos because of the great schools and high test scores. I don't want to loose that!

We voted YES on the parcel tax ballot.


Posted by Los Altos Resident, a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Some crazy rhetoric flying around. Fire everyone?? Great solution.....

How about supporting our schools, kids, teachers, property values, etc and helping bridge a serious revenue drop by voting YES on the parcel tax? $193.

Long term structural issues will require long term solutions. Stay involved. In the meantime support Measure E. There is an organized no on E campaign which is hurting our community by confusing rather than clarifying the issue. At the moment, our schools, the pride and future of our community, need our help.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 14, 2011 at 11:16 am

Los Altos Parent:

Comparing a parcel tax to a round of golf is really insensitive. There are some you can afford neither. I'm sure $193 is nothing when it comes time to computing figuring billable hours for your clients as well. I guess they'll never notice either, after all it's just the value of a few rounds of golf.


Posted by Justthefacts, a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

The problem with posters like Marcia (apparently a teacher in the LASD) is that they make unsupported claims.

Here is source of salary data

Web Link

Property values in the area are high because people want to live here. People want to live here because of the climate, quality of housing stock and because local (private sector) employers pay well. Why do they pay well? Because they need to hire smart people so they can compete globally. The Los Altos SD, MVHS and (to a lesser degree LAHS) schools perform (relatively) well as other local schools (but not as well as those in Cupertino, Palo Alto or Saratoga) Because the students are the children of smart parents. Not because the high school teachers are the best paid in the state, or because the elementary and junior high school teachers are among the best paid in the state.


Posted by Marus, a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2011 at 2:46 pm

We voted yes.

Umm...Mr. Justthefacts..according to your source, Los Altos schools is not even on there! See below! I know LASD are NOT paid the highest. Why don't you try asking a teacher in the district. People like you sour everything. Just go away!

District County Teachers Avg Yrs Teaching Average Pay
MONTECITO UNION ELEMENTARY Santa Barbara 35 22.49 $99,905
MOUNTAIN VIEW-LOS ALTOS UNION Santa Clara 199 11.18 $99,353
PORTOLA VALLEY ELEMENTARY San Mateo 49 13.91 $96,673
LAGUNA BEACH UNIFIED Orange 149 14.39 $93,120
LOS GATOS-SARATOGA JOINT UNION Santa Clara 165 16.29 $92,725
WOODSIDE ELEMENTARY San Mateo 35 $90,022
LAS LOMITAS ELEMENTARY San Mateo 83 16.03 $89,216
MENLO PARK CITY ELEMENTARY San Mateo 153 14.01 $88,438
ST. HELENA UNIFIED Napa 99 15.21 $87,430
FULLERTON JOINT UNION HIGH Orange 612 14.36 $87,245
TAMALPAIS UNION HIGH Marin 238 14.77 $87,130
KING CITY JOINT UNION HIGH Monterey 82 15.02 $86,703
MOUNTAIN VIEW ELEMENTARY Los Angeles 424 17.27 $86,668
HILLSBOROUGH CITY ELEMENTARY San Mateo 110 15.11 $86,080
ORANGE COUNTY OFFICE OF ED. Orange 392 16.14 $85,391
PALO ALTO UNIFIED Santa Clara 733 12.58 $85,360
ALAMEDA COUNTY OFFICE OF ED. Alameda 46 10.91 $84,632
SAN MATEO UNION HIGH San Mateo 395 14.17 $84,416
SAVANNA ELEMENTARY Orange 102 11.87 $83,349
CARMEL UNIFIED Monterey 155 17.31 $83,123
PLEASANTON UNIFIED Alameda 725 10.27 $82,958
ANAHEIM UNION HIGH Orange 1,358 11.04 $82,395
SEQUOIA UNION HIGH San Mateo 418 11.99 $81,807
NEW HAVEN UNIFIED Alameda 658 14.16 $81,674
NEWPORT-MESA UNIFIED Orange 960 12.56 $81,376


Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm

There are facts, and then there are opinions passing as facts (seen above)
Fact: This is certainly not just "a revenue issue", it is an unfavorable ratio between revenues and expenses.
Fact: Unless teachers are exempt from the law of supply and demand, they are overpaid. There is a surplus of teachers, with more eager recruits graduating each semester. All competing for a dwindling supply of jobs.
Opinion: "Property values in Los Altos are high due to the fine schools". I can make a better case that the schools are good because property values are high. Parents able to afford Los Altos prices are likely to be high achievers, and likely also to have high expectations of their children.
Opinion: "LASD is managed well". By definition, failure to live within a budget isn't good management. Or does "managed well" just mean not as mismanaged as some?


Posted by Justthefacts, a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm

It appears that Marus doesn't understand the difference between "highest paid" and "among the highest paid". Nor how to extract relevant information from a database. There are 1,031 school districts in the state. To state "LASD is not even on there" , when his / her quick search of the SacBee database kicked out a list of 25 school districts (2.5% of a possible 1,031) is laughable.

California has the second highest paid teachers in the country (after New York). The average LASD teacher salary is 3rd highest in Santa Clara county (exclude high school and unified districts), and top 5 percent for elementary teachers in the state).

Web Link

Santa Clara County data is page 24 of the PDF.






Posted by MV Teacher, a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2011 at 7:44 pm

And teachers in LA don't have to work nearly as hard as in MV where students don't come to class prepared and with full parent support. I would love to teach in LA. Just out me on auto-pilot and cruise.


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2011 at 9:06 am

Are you kidding me? Punish the students with class sizes over 30 in k-3 with no art, pe, library, science teachers just to make a (wrong) point? Easy to say when your kids are grown or are in private school. The school district has done an incredible job of doing more with less every year. There is simply nothing left to cut. The problem is the state's willingness to cut more and more funding from education every year. Los Altos teachers don't have it easy- there are difficult kids and parents, ESL students, behavior issues just like at every school PLUS they educate special needs kids (unlike the charter and private schools). AND - if you want to change the teacher union it has to be done at the state legislature level - not at the school district.


Posted by Justthefacts, a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 15, 2011 at 11:30 am

In the past 10years, average LASD teachers salaries have increased 46%. The "highest salary offered" has increased 32% during the same period

Year 2000 2010 % Change
Average Salary $51,041 $74,463 45.9%
Highest Salary $ $65,920 $86,924 31.9%

Web Link


Posted by tax paying parent, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I agree with Steve... "Parents able to afford Los Altos prices are likely to be high achievers, and likely also to have high expectations of their children."

LASD schools are among the top performing in the state as a consequence of the parents/genes, more so than as a result of the teachers. People able to pay the exorbitantly high housing and associated property taxes in this area are smart, successful parents of kids who are predestined to become smart, successful students.
This is supported by economics (see Freakonomics). The highest indicators of how smart a kid will be is how smart his/her parents are. Sorry liberals, but it's true.

The problems with public education in CA are systemic. It is unfair to just keep patching the problem locally. It should be fixed from the top down. If parents of current students want to throw money at the schools - go right ahead. But the problem should be addressed and corrected at the state level.

How about some more school funding for our state colleges and UC's?!!


Posted by Just an observation, a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Justthefacts, I would be curious if you took a moment to reflect what your own salary was in 2000 and what it is today. I am willing to bet in has increased by more than $23,422.

The salary number reflect the total compensation including benefits. It would be very challenging to be a professional living in this area on a teacher's salary.

Currently the teacher's union is negotiating with the district to lower healthcare costs and and reduce compensation even further.



Posted by Just another observation, a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2011 at 7:32 pm

And many salaries have gone from over $200,000 to zero in the last ten years (that's what happens when companies start laying off people), unless of course you are a public employee, then your salary has gone up, despite the state going deeper and deeper into debt in the last ten years.


Posted by Taxpaying Sucker, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 17, 2011 at 8:54 am

Instead of everyone paying parcel taxes, we should impose a special tax on all corporate CEOs, lawyers, bankers, and accountants who provide services for individuals and companies that manage to pay little or no taxes or who are in anyway linked to the mortgage industry crisis or companies bailed out by taxpayers. Leave the rest of us alone.


Posted by Teacher in LASD, a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I am a teacher in the LASD. I have been teaching for ten years and have only received a 1 % raise during this time. Is 1% pay raise 8 years ago unsustainable as one of the bloggers mentioned? If salaries have increased, it's because the teachers have taken graduate classes to move up on the step and column salary chart.Not because the LASD have given us pay raises. This type of salary increase is not only statewide - but nation wide. At LASD for every 15 graduate units you take, you move up to the next pay column. Our top salary is $87,000 - if you have 90 graduate units and/or a masters degree, that is your top / absolute top salary. No teacher can make above this. There are many teachers who DO NOT take benefits, including me. We are on our spouses medical - not our own. I am at $60,000 after 10 years with the district and am midway through taking classes. The classes are expensive - about $500 for every 2-3 units. We pay for these out of our own money. There are teachers who make the same as me and have been teaching with LASD for 25 years. The only way you move up the salary/step and column is by taking night classes or taking classes during the summer when you have time. You cannot move up the salary schedule just by teaching year after year....it's graduate classes that move the teachers up. Lastly, please DO NOT confuse our salaries with the high school district (MVLA) - they are the highest paid in the state. They get pay raises and get COLA (Cost of living increases) into their salaries. The LASD teachers do NOT receive COLA (like firefighters, state works, etc.). This argumentatively gets rolled into the general budget to pay for PGE type increases and misc increases. So, for all of you out there....we have only received a 1% raise in ten years. Before that (during the boom) I think they received a 4% pay raise. We do not receive COLA. We work on the weekends and every single night correct papers and answer 40+ emails from parents. We have to, since we have no time during the day except for our 45 minute lunch. It is exhausting! Last, the LASD teachers took 4 furlough days last year. This is about a 2% pay cut for us. This year we are negotiating benefit and additional furlough days. We do not have support staff (reading support teachers, aides helping with prep or in the classroom) like we did in the past. Our class sizes have shot up and we are working harder than ever. For those of you who complain, come and spend a full day with me in the classroom and see what my day is like. In fact, I will give you a stack of papers to take home and correct, enter grades in the computer in the evening. Yes, we have deadlines and pressures, too! Anyway, get your facts straight!!! Oh...and we are one of the LOWEST paid teacher salaries in Santa Clara County - so I have no idea where some of the people in this post are getting their information! Amazing!!!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 17, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Teacher -
My understanding is that there is time each day to respond to emails, grade papers, and/or plan out your day. This can be done during instructional time allocated to PE, library, music, art, literature docent reading, computer lab and quiet reading (15-30 min/day, depending on the grade level).


Posted by Eddie, a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2011 at 7:15 am

Teacher in LASD:

"The only way you move up the salary/step and column is by taking night classes or taking classes during the summer when you have time. You cannot move up the salary schedule just by teaching year after year..."

You mislead. Teachers move across (maybe not up) the pay scale every 1-3 years for longevity before they max out at the top--like many professions. You are asking for more raises once you max out, and in this economy it just will not work anymore. You, however, are only referencing moving up the pay scale. Actually, what you describe is moving diagonally across the pay scale. How many of us would love to get a raise just for enrolling in a class--of which the requirements are pretty lax for what kind of course you take. So, please, a little more accuracy here.


Posted by Huh?, a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2011 at 7:27 am

I am at $60,000 after 10 years with the district and am midway through taking classes."

If you worked a 12-month work year (no getting two months off in the summer, you would be at $70,000! And that still gives you 2 weeks at Christmas and 1 week each for winter and spring break. Keep your two week Christmas vacation and work the other two weeks. That brings you to $75,000 a year with benefits, since you don't have to use your spouse's. IF you are still taking class to get your units up to move up the pay scale, that would mean you are at the BA/BS level. So basically, even without a MA/MS, you are technically making $75,000 a year. Did you know that the average BA/BS income nationally is around $52,000? Oh, and one more thing, you are not working a full work day. Say you are pulling only 7.5 hours a day those roughly 185 days of instruction you work. Let's see 185 x .5 = 92.5 hours equivalent to 2 more weeks of work that would bring your meager salary up to $80,000 a year. Still complaining? Yes, many of us in the private sector are forced to work long hour into the night, weekends, etc, and even on national holidays that only teachers and public employees get off as well. So no more appeals to that please!


Posted by Justthefacts, a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Teacher's claims are inconsistent with the facts.

In 2000, the "lowest salary offered" was $34,000 and in 2010 the lowest salary offered was $44,832, an increase of 31.8% In 2000, the salary for a "BA+60 Step 10" teacher was $52,582 and in 2010 it was $69,334, equal to an identical (31.8%) increase. There was no requirement to take additional classes in order to benefit from either of these salary increases.

Regarding benefits, health coverage accounts for 47% of the $21,800 per employee LASD benefit expense. The election to take coverage provided by a partner's employer is not a controllable factor. Other benefits include retirement contributions (9% of salary and unlikely enough to pay the pensions promised), unemployment insurance, retiree health insurance (a pay-as-you-go scheme), workers compensation, social security and Medicare.


Posted by LAResident, a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2011 at 4:21 pm

While I am fully in agreement with tightening belts, for residents of Los Altos against the parcel tax, just think about this:

I am sure you are not displeased that the value of your property has not dropped as much as in other areas. A huge part of the reason why Los Altos property values are higher and retain value better in down times is because of the schools. If the schools go down in performance so will your property values.

I think an extra $193 a year isn't that much to pay for upholding tens of thousands of dollars of value in your property.


Posted by Teacher in LASD, a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm

To Eddie:

WRONG! You move down in years and hit the bottom of the payscale in five years after you get your teaching credential. Starting salary is $42, 277 for a first year teacher and in five years you hit the maximum salary of $49,673. You cannot get a single dollar more until you take an additional 15 units. Once you take 15 more units you move to the next column. At the bottom of that column you move along for 8 more years and then if you spend time going to night class / 15 more units - you move over a column. You hit the maximum salary after 90 graduate units and a total of 15 years. If you taught for 15 years and never took a class, you would still be at $49,000 mark. I previously taught in another district for 10 years, so I have 20 years of experience. When I moved here, Los Altos only took 5 years of my 10 years experience, so it was a major pay cut from Orange County where I lived. Now at age 60, I make $60,000. My retirement is $32,000 a year if I retire now. I also have a masters degree that gives me an additional $1500 a year.

I teach primary grades and the students only get P.E. ONE day a week for 30 minutes. That's my only FREE time. Upper grades and junior high teachers get much more than first through third grade teachers. The teachers are required to go to the library and computer lab with our students (no time to read email). We do not have a Literature Docent program at our school. As for art and music, I am managing the class during this time.

I am not complaining about my job. I love what I do! I didn't become a teacher to make the money like the parents at Google - whose kids I teach. I feel like this community is slandering the morale of the teachers who teach here. Our feeling is - after reading blogs like this - that we are not valued or respected. . We love the kids, but unfortunately, we don't love the selfish people who live here and have their million dollar homes and cut down the people who spend eight hours a day with their children. Basically, I have calculated that I get paid $14 a day per child to teach. I have 25 students per class. I teach for 180 days a year. That's about $60,000 - actually it's more than I make. How much do parents pay for babysitters? $14 a day?

Give me a break!!!


Posted by Marcia, a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Justthefacts does NOT have the facts down correctly. Why are you punishing the LASD? You must be a parent from Bullis Charter school!

My family applauds the LASD staff for the great work they do. They ARE in fact underpaid. My neighbors and I all voted Yes!

Why are you being so negative. Get YOUR facts correct "Justthefacts"


Posted by Mountain View Parent, a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm

As a Mountain View parent with a child who went to Almond Elementary and who was there when the re-districting was being discussed and subsequently was put in to place, I voted no. Why? Because at the meetings discussing the re-districting very nasty things were said about the Mountain View residents who attended Los Altos Schools and we were essentially told to leave since it was felt it was our increasing numbers that were creating the need to re-district. Now while I realize that not everyone in Los Altos feels this way, no one contradicted the statements said at those meetings. So as far as I'm concerned, if they didn't want my child 4 years ago, they can't possibly want my money now.


Posted by MV Mama, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I just have to say, a lot of posters seem to spend a lot of time braking down the "real" salaries of teachers and assume that teachers only work partial days. I actually sort of thought that too until my child was in elementary school and I started volunteering and helping out. Teachers work HARD. There is very little or no downtime like I had when I worked for major Silicon Valley companies. There is a TON of prep work that goes into preparing for each day. Every week when I help out in the classroom I am helping the teacher to cut things out, sharper pencils, make copies, or glue things. I don't mind it one bit, I am happy to do some of the busy work and allow the teacher to focus on the great lesson plans they provide to my student. I regularly see teachers at school late in the afternoons and into the evenings. It not as easy as some people assume. Yes, they get time off at Christmas and during the summers. But the every day work is intense. I hope even if you don't have kids in elementary school you recognize that teaching isn't as easy as some would have you believe.


Posted by MV Parent, too, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Mountain View Parent: Wow. Just wow.

You struck a nerve with me -- I absolutely support your position. I find it ironic that 6 or 7 years later, those LASD parents that chaffed at having MV families in their district are now scrambling in any way possible to get their kid into MVHS as opposed to their LAHS home school. What gives?

"If they didn't want my child 4 years ago, they can't possibly want my money now." Applause.


Posted by Eddie, a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Teacher in LASD:

"You move down in years and hit the bottom of the payscale in five years after you get your teaching credential. Starting salary is $42, 277 for a first year teacher and in five years you hit the maximum salary of $49,673."

For a BA degree, that approaches the national average. But for a 12-month work year, not a ten. So you are still above average. And are you suggesting that you should just keep getting pay raises year after year for doing the same thing year after year. You should be required to get more education to move up the pay scale. Hello, that's what makes the difference in what we call a 'profession' and a blue-collar job. But teaching is no longer a profession is it? Real professions demand continuing education if you didn't know. So does your teaching credential. Your assertion that "If you taught for 15 years and never took a class, you would still be at $49,000 mark," is pure fantasy because it could never happen given credential renewal requirements. But you left that part out. Anyway that seeks to stay at the bottom of a pay scale and invest no time and money into their profession deserves to remain at the bottom. Most likely, You can't get your teaching credential renewed without taking all those courses in your spare time. If you didn't take those courses, your credential would not get renewed and you'd be out of a job. So please stop mixing apples and oranges. Your thinking is pure and simple public employee thinking. More, more, more, for less, less, less.

But lest you forget, this parcel tax has nothing to do with raising teachers' salaries. But is sure does make me wonder about only some teachers' thinking and attitudes.


Posted by Louie, a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Teacher in LASD:

If you are 60 years old and at the bottom of the pay scale, that tells me your credential is an out-dated life-time credential that the state handed out years ago. It also tells me that you've put very little into professional development outside the bare minimum. You don't seem to understand that districts provide incentives for teachers to continue to develop professionally. Those incentives are reflected in the pay scales you talk so much about. Perhaps you opted out of taking advantage of those pay scales. BTW, your younger colleagues don't have those life-time credentials. They are required to renew them every five years. Taking coursework is an investment in the future--YOUR FUTURE. If you dodge course work and incentives to move across the pay scale, that is no one's fault but your own. And to compare what you do, and your pay to do it, to babysitting tells me a lot. WOW! And your comments about parents? WOW again! It's those highly educated LASD Google parents that are making your job a lot easier. They know the meaning of incentives and the hard work it takes to earn them.


Posted by Voted No, a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I live in Los Altos and gladly voted NO. The teachers need to live within their means. They do not work all year are home eating dinner by 5:00, pay very little towards health care and most live in town so have a short commute. My neighbor lives about a 1/3 of a mile from school and she still drives to work in a late model car and is home by 3PM. Who else do you know lives this lifestyle?


Posted by Sabrina, a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:15 pm

I voted YES because even though I do not have kids nor do I plan to, $193/year is so very little to help keep class sizes down for children to come. What in the world are you planning on spending that $193/year on, anyway? I cannot think of a better place to put that money than in a public school, even if I have no immediate connection to it.

And I appreciate the earnest comments by actual teachers who work for the LASD. There is a REASON why the average teacher quits after 5 years of full-time instruction. Teaching K-12 is one of the most difficult careers imaginable.


Posted by Question, a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Any of you willing to post what your salary is? Mine is $105k per year, plus health benefits, more than the average teacher in Los Altos. Teaching is grueling work, and $75k a year is too little for the amount of education and training they have. I challenge any of you to substitute teach for a week and then give your opinion on teachers.

Teachers working conditions are students learning conditions.


Posted by Crossings Resident, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm

The problem is that LASD's financial problems are only going to get worse even with a parcel tax. There is no end in sight. And let me remind everyone that the parcel tax will not go toward teacher salaries, so it's pointless to continue to talk about them. If teachers are complaining now, they will be complaining a lot more in the near future. But again, the parcel tax has nothing to do with teacher salaries. Teachers can expect, however, to start contributing more to their health benefits in the future. That is a foregone conclusion. I'm voting No, since this just kick the can down the road. And also because we in The Crossings have been farmed for school tax revenues from the very beginning on top of our already high property taxes. Yet the superintendant of LASD pays maybe a third of what we pay in property taxes. And then we are denied a neighborhood school or a closer one to send our kids to. We have to drive clear over to the other side of town. It's as if the school board said, "Pay your taxes to us, and then go to a closer school in Mountain View. We don't want your type here."


Posted by Pensions and Benefits hurt quality education, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 21, 2011 at 11:23 am

First, I am releived to read all the posts above. For some-time, my husband and I have felt alone in this process. It is impossible to openly go gainst measure E and not get the wrath from the teachers and PTA. We have had to show our opposition in very quiet settings. Our district deperately needs to change. Please don't enable it anymore. The salary, tenure, benefits, pensions are huting quality education.

The cost of benefits and pensions are way beyond sustainability. The easiest short-term measure if for teachers to accept a pay-cut until the pensions can be re-negotiated with the unions.

Here is a government site that lists the pensions of retires making over $100K. A retired teacher, could make more post pension than before. Everyone one else around the country has had to delay retirement. SS will be delayed. Teachers can still retire at 55 with 80% of salary to be exact, plus life-time medical.

Timothy Justus, who closed Bullis Gardner and in doing so bround it $ Millins of dollars in lawsuits to the district, only to re-open the school again with minimal enrollment, retired with an annual pension of $201,342 plus life-time medical benefits. Where is the accountability with bad decisions? The current adminstration is not doing better at managing the sutuation with the LAHs. Yet, they have not worries about being fired or have worries their pension being affected by their performance.

Here is a link for the over $100K retirement club in California. CalSTRS, CalPERs, and the UC. The highest comes from Modesto, CA (Calpers), where you can buy a luxurious home for just over $100K. He receives %509,664 in a pension. The salaries of UC professors also rose dramatically post Dot Com. With no pension cap, some stand to receive over $300K in pensions.

Web Link

The teachers have to decide if they want a good salary or a cushy retirement. Right now they have both. The average Computer Engineer makes $92,000, works year round, and has a 401K (source: WSJ '11. Should the benefit package be better for a teacher than an engineer? The worst students in college become teachers. That is a fact. What happens to the engineer's job if he doesn't perform or if his project tanks? He/she looser his/her jobs. There is no system of accountability in the LASD.

A bigger concern is that as boomers retire (10K per day starting this past January), the pension fund will outwiegh the school operating budget. What will we do then? On-going parcel increases in the range of 10% will be needed.

Salary and pension reform are needed.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm

[Portion removed; disrespectful language]

Eddie: Comparing teachers salaries to the "national" average for BS/BA degrees is also a red herring. Compare Bay Area salaries in most professions to those nationally, you'll see a difference. The cost of living here is much, much higher, and salaries are higher to reflect that. So "average" nationally is effectively lower here.

Everyone complains that we need to improve the quality of education because we are falling behind other countries. Many of those countries pay their teachers much better than we do. They actively recruit the best and brightest students to pursue teaching as a career, and make teaching a very prestigious career path. Here, we do nothing but complain about our teachers and even in the most expensive areas of the country complain about paying them. And we expect this to HELP improve our schools? Yeah, like if Google decided they pay too much and needed to just cut everyone's salaray to the "national average" -- and still attract the top students from Stanford, Harvard, etc. Not happening.

For those who say the teachers have it easy because they are "home at 3 pm" -- yes, home to grade papers, work on lesson plans, buy supplies for the classroom (with money from their own pockets), answering emails from very demanding parents. (The upside of a highly educated population is the very involved parents. Also the downside, as they can be notorious helicopter parents, requiring lots of teacher time to manage.)

For those who said that "nasty things" were said about Mountain View residents in "their" schools -- I doubt it was the teachers, the administrators, or the school board members who said that. They know that the people in the Springer neighborhood and Crossings, etc., are just as much "real" LASD families as those with Los Altos addresses, since the school district boundaries have always crossed city lines. Might they have mentioned that the city of Mountain View's development plans are putting stress on the school district? Maybe, I was not involved in any of those meetings. But that would be an accurate statement. One problem with the way school districts are set up here, being separate entities from the cities, means that they don't always act in each others' best interests. MV as a city is doing what they think is best for MV, and the budgets of either LASD or MVWSD are not their responsibility. But, even if some parents made cracks about Mountain View people in "their" district, why would you punish all the kids in the schools because some of the parents are ignorant jerks?

Regarding the comment about people trying to get their kids into MVHS instead of LAHS -- has nothing to do with elementary district issues, both schools are made up of kids from both feeder districts. Has nothing to do with this discussion.

Correction: Tim Justus didn't close Bullis, it happened before he started.

Pensions and retirements: Should this issue be looked at? Probably. But again, blaming LASD for mismangement because retirees are paid to much is just a non sequitur. The CALPERS system runs that, and while I will agree that this system needs some reform, the school districts have zero control over that. Districts just run the budgets for the people who are actually working/teaching currently. Once they are gone, the state system is paying out the retirement. So lobby for reform there if you want, but denying the parcel tax isn't going to change a thing, it's only going to hurt the kids in the district.

I marvel at how public education has become such an evil, along with unions, Social Security, etc. These are what created the middle class in this country. We are destroying the middle class, giving all the spoils to those at the very top. Just like a corrupt third-world country. Eventually, it will catch up with us and we will see the catastrophic result. Honestly, seems like at some point a revolution is in order.


Posted by Edward Ucator, a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2011 at 10:00 am

I have been teaching for over 20 years. I have 2 advanced degrees, continually involve myself in professional development opportunities to stay current, and love my job and my students. On my $77,000 year salary there is now way I could ever afford to live in Los Altos. What you have in your community and your schools is everything I would want for my family. What I am reading here frankly makes me sick. If you want the "cushy life" that I live, go get your teaching credential.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2011 at 8:14 am

I find it very interesting, suspicious, and sickening that Los Altos School District is one of the few public entities that has not released its salary data to the state for public access.

Web Link

What do you all think as voters? Is the timing of Measure E the reason?
What are they hiding?


Posted by Not a teacher, a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 25, 2011 at 7:39 am

Edward Ucator... I think we all know that teachers work really hard and that it is not a cushy job. My objection is that you seem to think the rest of us have a cushy job... In my family, both husband and wife work. And, it's pretty much the norm that we must work nights and weekends too.

But I don't retire with a pension. I contribute to a 401k (with a minute contribution from my employer). I pay a hefty percentage of my health care, and that percentage has gone up substantially in the last 10 year. And I'm not guaranteed a job if I don't perform. There's no tenure in my world, and no seniority that prevents layoffs.

I think that you should get more salary up front, but, in return, have to contribute to your retirement and pay a fair share of your health care.

The current compensation model is NOT sustainable. Until that's fixed, I cannot support this measure.


Posted by Taxpaying Sucker, a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 25, 2011 at 7:48 am

Yeah, no kidding. How would you like a $5,000 deductible on your health insurance like I have. And I'm making well over 6 figures.


Posted by How to live in Los Altos?, a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2011 at 9:12 am

Why should a teacher expect to afford to live in Los Altos? An engineer with a PhD from MIT cannot.

Teachers: Stop thinking that you can afford to live in affluent communities on an individual salary. If you want to be able to live in an affluent community you have to get a degree that puts you in that high pay/high risk-reward path. Once in that path, you have to be the best of the very best and be extremely lucky. Many households in Los Altos, required two professionals with good luck (right place, right time), in order to be able to afford living in Los Altos.

Me, I come from the two professional house-hold income family that has enough to live well within its shrinking income. Where does the expectation that teachers can live in Los Altos come from? I hear it said all the time. I certainly wouldn't expect that a teacher would go into this profession thinking that they would be competing with the smartest people in the world. Teaching is a type of trade. It is a challenging but steady profession. In the private sector we have Training Professionals. They too cannot expect to live in Los Altos, and they may have advanced degrees. We in the private sector live in the rate race. Since the DotCom era we have had to do with less every year. No chance that either my husband or I could afford LA on our individual salaries.

At least one partner in two income house-hold has to be in the fast pace track. Don't expect for the community to cover the gap for you.

As for our getting a credential and teaching, some of us would, but even if we are better qualifed, we won't get considered because of your tenures. Fix your tenures and watch how you will draw the best of the best teachers. I know of two excellent teachers that got layed off over more experienced but less effective teachers.

With this employement system, you still expect to get a salary that allows you to live in Los Altos? Really.

As for the $193 parcel tax... it is for how many hears?
If 5 years: $965
If 6 years: $1,158
If 10 years: $1,930
...
Will it ever go away?

Vote No. Drive for Change. Get the message to the adminstrators that they and the Teachers have to be a part of the solution and get the message to their unions.

Better quality education will not come easy. Close a school, Consolidate. Adopt the Bullis Curriculum and eliminate this overlap in the LASD. Find other ways.They are there. Don't tell me that taxation is the only and best option. I am done with that line. We are all in on this, not just the children and the parents.




Posted by Tim Justus, a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2011 at 9:42 am

Tim Justus opened Bullis Gardner. He and the administration did this at a cost of $10M. He failed to appease the BCS board. He did even worse with handling complaints from good teachers about a 'Sarah Palin' type of principal that went on to get promoted. He was a poor leader that got well compensated and walked away with a hefty $201K pension at a very young age. He is now free to add to his income by consulting.

This is the image of our school board, even today. They are not about education, they are about running a system that can no longer be sustained. Big mistakes are swept under the carpet and the can is thrown down the road. Accountability is needed at the administration level not just at the teaching level. For the administration, salaries need to be tied to meeting budget milestones. Pensions need to be capped. Fire everyone if they have to and hire the best back under new contracts.

Without solid structural changes, the unions run education and the result will be mediocre education (teach to the test) at a high cost. Parents will be expected to continue to foot the 'tax' bill.

As for the comment above, yes, a high parcel tax could bring down our property values. We are getting to the level that the it will become a negative.


Posted by Not Tim Justus , a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2011 at 9:46 am

Sorry about the above. I just googled Tim Justus to verify some of the posts. I am new to this. I was referring to the topic and I am not Tim Justus, obviously.


Posted by Justthefacts, a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 25, 2011 at 10:17 am

This from the Santa Clara Assessor Annual Report 2010-11.

"22 percent of today's property owners have not had their property reassessed to market value since before 1980. The total assessed value of those properties with a base year value established before 1980 equals 8 percent of the total assessed value of all the land and improvements in Santa Clara County. By contrast, property owners who acquired a property during the last ten years account for 42 percent of all properties, yet their combined assessed values account for 59 percent of the total assessment roll." (Properties acquired between 1980-1999 account for 36% of all properties and 33% of assessed value)

63% of LASD revenue is from property taxes and 18% is from parcel taxes. The remaining 19% of revenue is from a variety of sources. Source is page 7 of LASD 2010-11 budget.

If we assume that Los Altos / Mountain View property assessment is similar to that of the county as a whole, here is what is going on:

The 22% of Los Altos residents who have owned their properties since before 1980 contribute only 11% of the (property based) revenue of the LASD. Residents who purchased their properties between 1980 and 2000 contribute 34% of revenue (despite owning 36% of the properties. Residents who have bought since 2000 contribute 55% of revenue (despite owning only 42% of the properties).

Perhaps the proposed parcel tax should be increased to $877 and paid only by those properties owners who have owned their real estate since before 1980.

If this were to occur, the total contribution of these 22% of LASD property owners would still only be 16% of total LASD real estate based revenue, but it would represent a solid statement of their support for local schools.


Posted by Ike, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 25, 2011 at 11:19 am

I doubt the superintendent would be willing to pay property taxes on the real value of his house, given it was part of a trust and parent-child transfer.


Posted by Another neighbor, a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Most of the negative campaign about Measure E is being run by Charter-associated people, including their principal, and they are producing inaccurate info about the measure. Check out Measure E's website www.klasscampaign.org to get the facts. Measure E's folks have been careful to run a clean campaign - no advocating positions during school plays, no advocacy in letters sent home with students or posted on school websites, no stealing of "no on E" signs.

The campaign should not be about attacking a someone who obtained a house from a family member which is done with families all the time. He is paid a salary which is public information. I'd be curious about the Charter principal's salary which to my knowledge has never been published.


Posted by From Almond, a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I am an opponent of measure E and a parent at Almond.

80% of the measure E opponents are from the LAUSD.
The reason that you don't think that we exist is because you make it so difficult to voice any opposition. What can we do but listen and nod and vote NO.

There is no justification for poor performance.


Posted by Wish there were vouchers, a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 26, 2011 at 1:48 am

How about just ask all families that actually send their children to these schools to pay what is needed to balance the budget. For all property owners who send their children to private school or for owners without children this would make more sense!


Posted by Another parent, a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2011 at 7:04 am

Wish- parents already pay $1000 per child to the education fund which helpsake up the deficit due to state funding cuts. I'm addition parents contribute to PTA fundraisers at each school to pay for basics like pe, shade, computers and even paper! These are supposed to be public schools whichean they are supposed to be funded by government funds. At a certain point all of these donations become too much and schools begin to look like private schools. At that point it makes sense to leave los altos for a cheaper city and use the difference in mortgages to pay for private school. But then Los altos wouldn't be such a desirable city. It's nice if you can afford to Lu e here and pay for private school but most people I know can't afford that and they shouldn't have to.


Posted by Parent, a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2011 at 7:06 am

On iPhone - lots of typos. Sorry!


Posted by LASD Parent, a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2011 at 7:10 am

Ah yes, the LASD yearly shake down for money. The annual "contributions" is akin to a mafia tactic. There's nothing like paying protection money for your children to attend school. I'd like to know who keeps and monitors that list and how it affects school site placement and teacher selection. And then there's the parcel tax. Another type of shake down, this time enforced by the tax collector thugs. Welcome to public education. I say bring on vouchers.


Posted by I'm embarassed to live in LASD, a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2011 at 10:02 am

No stealing "No on E" signs? They've been disappearing in my neighborhood as fast as they go up.

It's childish and pathetic.
My children are old enough to notice--what on earth are we modeling for our children. (My children are now placing bets on how long the new "No on E" signs will stay up.)

A democracy allows for differences of opinion.

I've looked at both websites KLASS and the opposition: Web Link

I don't think either are spreading misleading information. You can look at numbers in very different ways and come to different conclusions.

My conclusion... LASD needs the money; this parcel tax doesn't even begin to solve their problems because they have structurally built a budget that will get worse every year.

I will vote NO this year. I will vote YES when I see a budget that realistically addresses their finances.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 26, 2011 at 10:24 am

Folks,

The choice you face will become more clear after your ballots are due. Revenue limit districts are about to be HAMMERED by the Governor's "all cuts" budget. Some may lose weeks of instructional time. In basic aid districts these impacts will be limited to "fair share" reductions in categorical funding. What makes a basic aid district? "Excess Property tax revenue". As school quality declines, property taxes decline, revenue limit takes over, school quality may decline further, etc. And remember, it is not actual instructional quality that counts, but the perceived quality in the real estate markets. So vote no if you are truly angry at LASD and don't have school aged kids, but do remember to be careful what you wish for.


Posted by No scare tactics, a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm

To Steve,

Tired of your recycled scare tactics. They are old and over done. They have been used for years and years and will be used again with the next parcel tax. They just don't work on everyone anymore. People are far more involved and informed.

What are you saying?
- That the UNIONS are impossible to break?
- That the LASD admistration will not change course, no matter if it impacts the employement of many teachers and further deteriorates our education?
- That the UNIONS and LASD Adminstration will nail us as a community by shortening our children's days of instruction? What happens to the salary of adminstrators for less school days?

Who does the LASD affect in the process of scaling to live within its means -- besides the student? Young and eager teachers? Do you think that parents will stand by and watch their kids not do well? How little do you think of our community.

If the LASD cannot perform, we can switch to charters where hey hire non-union teachers. With so many concerned parents in LA, we can fire the LASD and get independent schools started. Does this scare you? It shouldn't, unless you are affiliated with the school system or unwilling to take active participation in true improvement.

Use your energy to come up with ways in which more accountability can be expected of the LASD adminstration. They earn what senior managers in our area earn. They are paid to take the big steps not just pass the taxation to the community.

And no, I am not from BCS. I am a parent with two kids in the LASD.


Posted by Los Altos Resident, a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Well said Steve. Those who think this it is time to make a statement toward the school district, or somehow think this is a "shakedown" for money don't have much understanding of school financing, or the methods to make positive changes.

We are all lucky in LASD that there are such great schools, and our priority should be to keep them that way, whether or not one has kids in school.

Voting no on E risks a downward spiral in the quality of public education, which will have implications throughout the community.

I will bet that most of those tempted to vote no on E to make a statement to the school district will stop there, never attending a board meeting, or organizing any effort to make positive changes such as with teacher compensation. In the meantime the kids will suffer.

Sad that many in a community so lucky look first to complain or raise suspicions, rather than to add support when needed.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm

To -- No scare tactics

Just like anyone who has lived in one general area for more than forty years, I have friends in many professions. Since my college age kids began school in the old Whisman school district I have been interested in school finance. I have friends who are teachers as well, but I've never been a big fan of their unions.

Many thoughtful teachers will acknowledge that their lives are different in June, July, and August than the rest of us. Negotiating salaries and benefits requires unions and administrators both. I believe LASD teachers understand that they have it better than many in terms of total compensation.

Not much data is yet available on academic success for kids who spend entire K-12 careers in charter environments. What is readily available is at least anecdotal evidence to suggest charter teachers burn out quicker than the profession as a whole. When it comes time to replace retiring boomer teachers, we'll need even more of them if they are burning out quick, and without compensation to pay their student loans, where will they come from?

Charters are like start-ups, not every organization can or should be one. I'm not going to point by point rebut your all caps rant, but if you'd study a LASD budget, you would see that many of the things you think are still funded have already been cut.

In most districts though, when teacher furloughs shorten the school year, adminstrators also have salaries reduced, but somehow don't get the days off, since the state does not reduce the burden of their compliance duties.


Posted by To Steve, a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2011 at 4:44 pm


I appreciate your candor and your point of view.

We have different ways of seeing the same data and different ways of looking at the future of education. I too know several people in education. Many entered this field after outsourcing took away many jobs. The good news for them is that my colleagues tell me how well compensated they are compared to previous jobs. They work over the summer and make more than they did before except that now they can count on a tax-sponsored retirement and on a non-taxable medical benefit. They miss the stock options of 2000, but who doesn't? Overall, they say that they have it nice. No risk of getting fired and they are so efficient after being in the private sector, that they get their job done in 30 hours per week. Educators who teach after being in the private sector will be the first to say that teachers are overpaid. I have no problem with paying teachers a good salary. It is the overall compensation that will sink us in the future once boomer teachers begin to retire.

If the budget for the LASD has cut out many things that I think are funded, I'd like to know what they are? Somehow, it is not making a dent in the budget. So, whatever the items are, they are not enough. Any march that drives for further taxation when there is so much waste is unjustified. I see much room for improvement where you see that there is no way out of paying higher taxes.

I see continued weak management decisions that further weaken our dwindle ling state funding. You see the status quo.

I am glad to know that the Administrator's pay will track any furlough days. I hope that you can guarantee that since there is no way for the public to verify this. As for the work, well, it goes without saying. The rest of us have to work when we have shut-downs – often supporting odd time-zones with communication with in Asia or Europe. More is expected for less pay. It has been that way for 10 years. The government sector lags way behind here.

It is disrespectful for the LASD to assume that all families in the community are able to continue to fund the gap built by the poor LASD decisions. We don't live in the economy of 2000 anymore. Does the LASD need money? Of course it does. We all do. Especially if we are wasteful and overextend our budgets with unnecessary construction, salary increases when no-one else is getting them, and school expansions with flat enrollment.

We in the community live within our means and mine and many other families have already hit the limit of what we are willing to give to the LASD. In such circumstances, change for what we can afford needs to happen.

The $593 tax is turning into a perpetual tax come this summer. The $193 tax is likely to be one too, if it passes. What else do you have for us next year? Whatever it is, it is not sustainable.

You talk about retiring teachers? Well, wait until the boomers roll in their hefty teacher and administrative pensions and watch how the budgets for retires put a massive weight on the school budgets. In 10 years it is projected that the boomer teacher retirees will take home more than the active teachers. They will make more post retirement than before. We will be in deeper water by then. All because we did not drive for change today!

Many young and good teachers have been layed-off. It is time to give them a chance; along with a system that will compensate them for their contribution. Teacher retention should be based on merit. This will contribute to better education for our children.

Pension Reform is needed to get us into a system that can be supported by our present and foreseable economy.




Posted by Covington Parent, a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2011 at 4:55 pm

There will never be innovative management in LASD as long as leaders are taken from the ranks of teachers. All the leadership in LASD come from the teaching ranks since it has deliberately been designed to be a closed system to outsiders. Charters are the way to go. We need to get rid of the unions and these closed systems.

And I am sick of hearing our grateful we should be for the great schools we have. The credit is always laid at the feet of the teachers and administration. Well I'm here to say that we have great schools mostly due to great parenting and parents who value education. Money is not always the solution, and particularly not money that measure E claims to need.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 27, 2011 at 1:25 pm

To Covington Parent:

You are right, all the best research points to parental education and socieoeconomic levels as being the best predictors of student success in elementary school. School district administrators work for elected school boards. You are certainly entitled to have the school district you want, but the well educated folks currently charged with running your school district all agree Measure E is a good idea. Maybe you "no on E" folks should consider running for school board next time if $193/yr is so important. Personally, I've volunteered and contributed to every parcel tax campaign I've ever been presented with because it is the best method presently available to maintain some local citizen control over school funding in any community.


Posted by Not Tim Justus, a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm

To Steve:

I am sorry that I cannot support measure E. It is like giving a sniff to an addict that won't admit that he has problem. In this context, it makes sense that you, Steve, are like a protective parent in denial that doesn't want to face that he/she has child with a huge problem.

Every parent that has been asked to pay a tax has a say about expectations without having to run for school board. You are disrespectful in saying that only if we are willing to run for the school board can we make an impact. I never heard that the administration is merely there to please the board and that they therefore have no accountability for the mess that we are in.

And for that, our previous leader, Tim Justus, he walked away with a $4-6 Million dollar pension ($201M/year over 20-30years) -- even with a poor and costly track record. I wonder where the $4-6Million dollars are going to come from, for just one retired administrator. The school district has 5 high salaried chiefs. Their combined pensions will add up to more than $20Million.

No, we as parents don't have to run for school board to make a difference.


Posted by LAResident, a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Just think about this homeowners, your property value is directly related to the performance of the schools. Do you think Los Altos property is expensive just because it's a pretty neighborhood?

If your property value drops a few % because the schools don't perform as well, you will think that $193/year is cheap.

If your house is valued at $1M, a 2% drop is $20,000 in lost property value.

Should the schools be able to perform as well without the tax? Maybe, but why take that risk? We are struggling to pay bills so we're not swimming in cash by any means and I still think this is just not that much money to pay for a good education for your kids and keep up the property values.

If you're going to be that cheap, you might as well stop paying your homeowner's insurance. Your house won't burn down... At least probably not...


Posted by kyle, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2011 at 7:19 am

LA Resident:

LA properties are expensive due mostly to location, location, location. The school argument doesn't work. Many of us send our kids to private schools. Where else are we going to live? In Mountain View? Sunnyvale? Yeah, right. The schools need to get a grip on reality, or they will continue to lose money and students to private schools. You may notice that there is no shortage of expensive private schools in this area. Have you ever stopped to wonder why?


Posted by Steve, a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 28, 2011 at 9:16 am

Just a couple of simple facts -- Mr. Justus may have a pension of $201,000 (not $201M as noted above). Also, the last school district in a career educator's career does not pay anywhere near all of his pension, so the impactful figures sited above may be overstated.

Easy Kyle -- What makes up location, location, location? Schools are certainly one of the factors. I'm proud of my Los Altos High grad kids, and I think they will do fine in life. Private schools also have the advantage of not having to do all of the things that state law requires public schools to do. Should we change some state Ed code? Probably several hundred pages...Should we punish the kids of LASD because we cannot change state law by ourselves?
I believe that is a different question.


Posted by Property Values, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 28, 2011 at 10:17 am

The two posts above are redundant. Your points have already been addressed.

My kids are out of the LASD. I don't worry about my property values go down if this tax fails. I doubt that they will. I cannot support your tax on my post retirement income. I am still in my 50s and can't get a job in part because I left the workforce to be a full time parent. Over time, my property value will do fine. It will move with the values of the bay area, as it always has. Plenty of people still hoping to land a home in LA.

Parents in LA are focused on education. If the district does not support their expectations, they will find other ways. I have been there and did what I had to do to get my kids to a good college. Our residents are resourceful leaders.

Pro Mesure E Tax Thugs Above: You need to keep those of us who don't have kids in the district out of your mess. Take on the people making millions in pensions instead of families who are making ends meet in our high cost of living atmosphere. I don't have $201K in pension as Mr. Justus does. I assume that it will add up to $4-6K over time.

I feel for the families who are being forced into this taxation system. You need to go to the Mountain View Appartment folks and see how they can help outside of a taxation system.

Stand your ground and vote NO on Measure E. As a resident without kids in the district, we are done with the LASD mess and ready to look at peaceful pastures. The district needs to collect from families with kids in school and and no-one else. I already pay State Taxes. Get my share from them.


Posted by To Property Values, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2011 at 10:27 am

The Tim Justus pension adds up to $4 to 6 Million Dollars!!!!

An average teacher pension will add up to about $1 to $2 Million Dollars!!!!

With retiring boomers, there are a lot of millions of dollars needed to support the retirment packages of long-term, fully loaded teachers and administrators. Not to mention the medical costs. I agree that something needs to be done, but what can we do today?

Taxation is the only way.


Posted by Join Fix Pension First, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2011 at 10:54 am

How much does the LASD pay into the Tim Justus pension?

If we are locked into these excessive pensions, we can't afford to be wastefull with poor decisions.

Vote No on E. Join Fix Pension First, the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility Web Link. They post the list of LASD admistrators receiving over $100,000 in pensions. They are working on the teacher list of those earning over $75,000 in pensions. It is huge. It all adds to millions and millions of dollars.

The pension problem is nation-wide. The middle class is now aware of the abusive contracts that were signed to fund the entitlement pay and benefits of government educators. Between 2000 and 2008, Union Equalization brought everyone up in the pay and benefit (medical and retirement) scale, regardless of performance.

Education is taking the back seat to these excessive contracts. There are plenty of qualified teachers waiting on the sidelines for an opportunity to get a job with reasonable terms.

Vote No on E


Posted by TIm Justus Pension, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 28, 2011 at 11:15 am

The Tim Justus pension could be over $8,000,000 (8 Million) dollars if he lives to 95 years of age.

A fully loaded teacher's pension could break $3,000,000 ($3 Million) dollars if they live to 95 years of age.

How much is the District being billed for these pensions? Do we pay into the pensions for those retired or do we also pay for future retirees? Is the district willing to disclose the costs over the next 10 to 20 years?

Someone please provide data on this.


Posted by Just the facts ma'm, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm

To answer the previous commenter:

The average yearly payout for a retired teacher in CalSTRS is $48,180.
The average age of retirement for a CalSTRS pension is 61.2 years.
The average service credit it 29 years.

Districts do not contribute any money toward Social Security. The money the districts put into CalSTRS is about equivalent with what they would have paid for Social Security.

Members of CalSTRS contribute 8% of their salary toward their retirement. The state contributes 2%. The rest of the money is generated by investments, which are calculated to average 7% per year but generally are higher, except for during the recent crash.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Thanks for "Just the Facts". The values will be somewhat higher for retired LASD teachers. What districts do pay for is health benefits between retirement and Medicare. Remember when teachers retire before 65, although you pay for their health insurance, you pay a much lower salary to the new teacher who replaces them, if you can replace them.

My own opinion is that both teachers and taxpayers need to get off of general compensation issues. High wealth taxpayers have chosen the aggressive life Silicon Valley offers, and most teachers made a choice that includes "June, July, and August".

However, when revenue goes down, either program or compensation must be adjusted. That is true with or without minor new revenues. Either reduced length of school year or reduced faculty have an impact on program, so shouldn't total compensation be part of the negotiation first if everyone has the students best interests at heart?


Posted by LAResident, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm

To kyle,

I would say most do not send their kids to private school. I certainly do not and I bought into LA because of the schools, and I know a lot of others that did too. Property taxes are tax deductible, private school is not. There are many people that buy into more expensive neighborhoods solely because of the schools.

So, what is so great about the location? Why is Palo Alto so expensive with small lots? Why is Cupertino also so expensive? Why is Sunnyvale which is just a few miles away not as expensive? The location is almost the same.

I believe that you should look at your argument and see what makes sense. There is nothing that special about the location Los Altos.


Posted by Los Altos, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm

The data above is generally correct.

The average pension for a fully loaded 61 year old Los Altos School Teacher is much higher than the average, Closer to $72,000. So is the salary. Pensions are in the Millions range. It all depends on years post retirement.

The cost of medical benefits is a major portion of the teacher benefit. Medical costs have gone up substantially and the teacher contribution (5-8%) has not tracked the higher cost. The medical benefit is not taxed as income. These benefits are and will weigh down the budget in the future. Yes, futher down we go. They are separate costs from the pensions.

Defined Benefit Plans such at the ones that educators have, dissapeared long ago in the private sector. Many of us never got to experience them and are just learning about them during this round of taxation.

We are all accustomed to 401Ks. On a salary of $100K, you can put $15K aside per year. After 10 years, you can save $150K, in 20 years it could be $300K (not even close to what a teacher will get). Gains and losses are at your own risk/reward.

The problem the CalSTERS pensions is that they passed on all the losses of risky investments during the rise and crash of the housing market to the tax-payer. Not a fair arrangement for the tax payer.

This article, from Alameda, describes how their city council was duped into an unsustainble contract with the unions. Web Link

They are taking steps forward and reversing some wrong decision of the past. It is moving slowly, but in the right direction.


Posted by Not From BCS, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm

On the teacher contribution towards their pension:

This is a rough estimation for a flat pay over 30 years:
If both of these employees retire with a $100K in Salary

Employee Contribution:
Teacher (8%)= $8,000 Engineer($401K): $15,000
after 30 years:
Teacher (8%)= $240,000 Engineer ($401K):$450,000

Pension: after 30 years
The teacher pension could be anywhere from 70 to 80% of pay.
Teacher: $2,400,000 Engineer: $450,000 (+/- gains losses)

If the market doesn't perform? The retiree is guaranteed the pension from the tax payer. A retired teacher ends up with a pension that is 10X that of their contribution. Why, because CalPERS was extremely positive on their ROI forecast. Better than Warren Buffet. The state has since forced a shift to more conservative investments, but the hole is still there over the promised gains that our politicians (Gray Davis) signed us up for.

For those in the 401K system. Your investment moves with the market. Good luck breaking a million.



Posted by my two cents, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm

My husband is a school administrator and I'm a working professional. I must agree that his retirement right now is really amazing, a guaranteed $120,000 a year on top of all our other retirement savings and my 401K. And he also has a 403B which is the teachers answer to the 401K. Unlike the teacher complaining above, he invested a lot into his career with advanced degrees and professional development and it has paid. While he works long hours, his schedule is slightly more open than mine with more generous vacations. So, from my experience, the argument that teachers etc work harder than more, really doesn't fly. It's the same or less than most professionals. And then there is the guaranteed job security, unless you really screw up (but you'd have to screwed up so bad that you'd be breaking the law). Otherwise, even as an administrator, you can always bump down with seniority and knock out a teacher and take their job even if you haven't taught in years. That's a benefit that most school administrators won't share with anyone. They've got the system worked entirely in their favor all from behind the scenes.

We have always saved a lot. Even with the last decade being so terrible, we still managed to nearly double our personal retirement savings. So I think it's a bit of both here. If YOU save and invest wisely, you can do pretty good, but there are no guarantees. If the STATE does the saving for you (or doesn't invest wisely and blows it all), you are still guaranteed as a retirement. I can see how that is unfair.

Also, some of the investment math above is bogus. If you put $10,000 in the market, you should easily be able to double it to $20,000 in ten years. Again, we just did, or came close to it, even in the past decade which was as bad as it could be. And as long as you keep investing, you could easily get to a million in personal retirement savings. Again, we did. And it really wasn't that impossible. So I really suspect those who spit out numbers and say you'll never make it to a million. Try turning in the BMW for a VW for starters. And BTW, any one who thinks 1 million in 15-20 years will be worth what it is today, is crazy. You will need more than 1 million to retire comfortably. I sense what is more at work here on both sides of the argument are people who have never learned to save and invest either way.

Which brings me to my last point. My husband and I planned and saved and adjusted and sacrificed through good times and bad. The school district and state didn't (regardless of all the authority and access to capital they have). A lesson needs to be taught through hard knocks. No more taxes. No on Measure E. We all need to learn to live and save and plan as individuals and organizations.


Posted by Retirement Guru, a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm

@Not from BCS:

Teacher (8%)= $8,000 Engineer($401K): $15,000

after 30 years:

Teacher (8%)= $240,000 Engineer ($401K):$450,000

DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE POWER OF COMPOUNDING INTEREST?

If an engineer puts 15K away every year for over thirty, he or she will have just over 1 million in thirty years at an interest rate of 5%. DO THE MATH FOR PETE'S SAKE!

Or use the following retirement calculator Web Link

However, yes, the value of the teacher's salary would be GUARANTEED.
BUT, the teacher pension in retirement would be around 40K a year while the engineer could continue to invest the savings and wind up with around 80K a year.


Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2011 at 11:43 pm

The average LASD fully loaded salary is just under $100k, vs. $80K for Santa Clara County (and this includes high school teachers). The average LASD teacher has taught for 15 years - Average Santa Clara teacher - 22 years.
So, relatively inexperienced, but a salary package 25% higher!!!


Posted by Mr. Haley's Beliefs or Facts?, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2011 at 6:09 am

Before everybody puts too much faith in Mr Haley's facts, here is what he "believed" some time ago:

Web Link

"Ron Haley, La Rena Lane, believed that the test scores from the Los Altos School District were garnered through cheating"

Our kids are cheats? Really, Mr. Haley?


Posted by LASD Parent, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2011 at 9:39 am

To the Mr. Haley's belief's or Facts:

Why don't you put your name and address on your post? You show lack of grace and immaturity in your response.

Are you in denial over the issues plaguing the LASD? It sure appears that you need counseling because this shows that you have taken this matter deeply personal.

Get a grip!!! This matter is about differences in opinion and it is not about what my address or Mr. Haley's is.

Why don't I disclose who I am? Because I get the same line of emotional anger that you sent to Mr. Haley from the PTA at my local school. The slightest sign of resistance to Measure E is met with the same mean spirited response that you radiate in your e-mail.

You are deeply disrespectful in the manner of your stance. No wonder the letter from the promoters of measure E indicates that you should not write letters to the editor because they hurt more than they help. You should listen to this advice of your leadership. You lack the understanding to debate the issues and bring out your angry emotions instead.

VOTE No on E.


Posted by Beliefs or Facts, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2011 at 10:21 am

@LASD Resident

The quote was taken verbatim from the posted link which is public record. Not sure what you're taking issue with.


Posted by not a parent, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2011 at 11:07 am

I don't have kids in school but I voted Yes!

It's interesting to read the comments from posters who say that the burden of the budget deficit should be carried only by those with kids in the LASD schools. Let's just let the parents pay for the schools! Sure - and while we're at it, let's just do away with Medicare, MediCal, Social Security, etc. That attitude says that people should just take care of themselves and if you can't pay for it...oh well - tough for you! Ugh!

If you have problems with the way the system is run, take some positive action to change it. Show up to school board meetings, write to the board members, get involved with one of the parent school-reform movements instead of voting no and bashing the teachers, parents, and board members and punishing innocent kids with 30+ class sizes.


Posted by MVLA Parent, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2011 at 11:28 am

Who is to say that Haley was wrong back in 2006? Cheaters have to start sometime. My child took an advanced level course at one of the district high schools. A certain teacher was known to give the same test to both first and third period classes. Students in the third period class would regularly meet with their friends in the first period class, get the questions, spend period in the library preparing and then write the test in third period. It was unclear what the first period collaborators received in return – perhaps a quid-pro-quo in another class. All involved students were in the LASD in 2006.

I informed the district superintendant and the principal of the school (anonymously – for the same reason as LASD parent at 10:35) but neither the behavior of the cheaters (or the teacher) changed.


Posted by Parent, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2011 at 11:42 am

To the upset parents of Mountain View. I was at most of the meetings for redrawing boundary lines and I believe most of the negative comments had to do not with the parents/students of Mountain View but with the fact that Mtn View city officials kept approving more and more housing projects while refusing to consider the impact it had on the LASD population. Those are completely different issues.

Another issue - BCS parents do benefit from the LASD schools. I can't tell you how many BCS parents "use" the district for kindergarten (all the while bashing the school district) and then repeat a second year of kindergarten at the charter. THey would show much more integrity to just keep their child in preschool for another year


Posted by Parent, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm

To Parent...
I can tell you approximately how many BCS parents have used the LASD school as a "Young 5s" program in the last two years.
THREE...
How many LASD parents have used BCS as a Young 5s in that time...ONE (that I know of), possibly TWO.

That is a specious argument...
Ask LASD how many parents use their Kindergarten as a Young 5s with the full intent of having their child repeat. I guarantee you it's higher than that.

I agree that's an integrity issue--but you don't know the personal circumstances of any of these families--and they may have good reasons for what they did.

It is, however, entirely irrelevant to this argument.


Posted by No on E, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Apr 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm

MVWSD, LASD, and the MVLA High School District should be collapsed into one to save money and reduce redundancy. These are all public schools after all, and there is so much mixing due to zoning already. That took all of 20 seconds of brain power. What are we waiting for? Until then, no new taxes. No on E.


Posted by LASD Trouble not Unique, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2011 at 2:19 pm

TO LASD ADMINSTRATION:

The LASD budget problems are not unique. The issue is going on all around the country. The administration gets a huge compensation to balance the budget. The expectation that funds will track a diagonal upward line is unrealistic. The school budget needs to align with the times. It needs to be able to build a surplus for rainy days.

During the growth spurt of the Dot come and the Housing Markets, the district made unnecessary expensive decisions. During the decline, we hear the cries for taxation to make up for poor mistakes of the past.

I see people on this board trying to do the math and pointing out important areas where there is excess. The math is not always precise, but they are in the ballpark.

There are a number of different actions that can be taken in the short term that would not only improve education, but they would also build a better collaboration between the LASD and the Charter School.

The lawsuits alone are taking money away from our education. Our LASD leadership is weak! They are the ones to fix this issue. As a parent, when our children's disagreements get out of control, we the parents, are at fault. We are no longer joint communities of the past thanks to your miss-management. The charter school is here to stay. They would be crazy to return to the LASD after putting so much effort to get it right. How arrogant of you to think that opening Bullis Gardner would send them back.

While I don't like the drain that this brings to the LASD, I also applaud them for doing what many of us here on this board wish we could do. Start our own charter school. We can't do it because we lack the financial resources that the LAH residents have.

Unlike other people on this board, I do not feel entitled to have people who don't wish to pay this tax pay for it. We don't have the right to force the community to support the LASD when it has lost so much respect and credibility. Whether the problems lie at the state level or not, the buck stops our administration.

We don't go blame our ex-employer for laying us off. The same applies to the district. We cut back while we find a new source of income or adjust. Stop blaming the state. It is the lack of a good administration that has put us in this circumstance.

Things have to go down before they go up. I cannot commit my family to a $790 perpetual tax. I cannot see how anyone here can demand that parents without kids pay this tax. That selfish and narrow minded beyond belief. If you wish to contribute to the LASD, buy all means. Please them them a check towards the $2.3M that they are asking for.

In the mean-time, we need better administration. The board members haven't been doing their jobs either. They promised change but they have achieve none. Thanks to Marge, they couldn't even fight the 2% pay raise of two years ago. BTW, Marge Bruno's retirement package is also in the Millions.

The LASD administration and the board are much like our current president. All politics no results. I don't expect miracles, but take some ownership.


Posted by LASD Parent, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Web Link


Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm

As you know, LASD recently issued approximately 50 "pink slips" to teachers. Along with these came the usual promises of increased class sizes, reductions in library hours, program cuts, etc. These are the threats, of course, of what's going to happen if you don't pass "Measure E", a proposed increase of the current parcel tax to $790.

What's troubling is that the board failed to disclose that it has an offer on the table that, together with incremental promised funds from local parents via LAEF, provides enough money to render these cutbacks unnecessary for at least another two years – plenty of time to implement the real reform the district so desperately needs. What's further disturbing is that this failure to disclose follows a pattern of mismanagement that, by the end of "Measure E", will have cost LASD taxpayers upwards of $32 million – more than twice its forecast proceeds.

The local public charter school operates out of portables on the Egan site – not an ideal situation for either school. As an inducement to LASD to provide access to an existing permanent site and facilities, it made LASD a gratuitous offer of $3 million. Unfortunately, the LASD board refused to take it. Acceptance would increase LASD cash flow by $4.5 over the first two years – $7.6 million during the life of the proposed "Measure E" tax increase – obfuscating the need for layoffs etc. While this offer still stands, should current charter / LASD litigation be resolved in favor of the charter, it will be rescinded, as the public charter school will gain access to facilities via the courts for free.

This is just one of a series of unfortunate choices made by the LASD board – renovating and reopening a school they said they didn't need ($13.9 million), funding eight K-6 schools when they said they could afford only six ($13.2 million) and ongoing facilities lawsuits to stymie the growth of the public charter school ($2 million).

These blunders only make sense when one recognizes that LASD board members are almost always handpicked union candidates – their election campaigns receive substantial union funds and/or endorsements – and that each of these seemingly illogical decisions was orchestrated primarily to constrain the growth of non-union public education in the Los Altos School District.

So instead negotiating in good faith to gain access to funds that resolve their financial "crisis" for the next two years, the LASD board is going to play Russian Roulette with our children's education – pass the parcel tax increase or else!

Shouldn't these board members put the interests of the children and taxpayers of LASD ahead of their union backers? Don't we want real reform – elimination of benefits like tenure after two years, automatic salary increases independent of performance, retirement after 30 years with full salary and benefits, layoffs based on last in first out, not performance, and lavish health care and insurance plans?

Join the process, make a difference, and don't forget to vote!


Posted by Janet, a resident of another community
on Apr 30, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Did you see the package LASD's former Superintendent walked away with? People, LOOK at the numbers!!!! Look at the data. I ready LASD's numbers, and even they have "spin" on them. Look at this video:
Web Link
Then get the data on LASD and READ the numbers. It does not take a business degree to see that there is a grave problem with LASD's finances. Some of the problems result from FORMER Trustees' decisions. Unfortunately for the CURRENT Trustees, they HAVE to make more courageous and tough decisions, which they are just postponing by Measure E and which will NOT fix the systemic problem.


Posted by Barbara Goodrich, a resident of another community
on Apr 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm

What bothers me most about Measure E is that it's almost a perfect mirror of what's happening statewide and nationally: We've gotten ourselves into commitments and contracts that are unsustainable. If we can't address the systemic problems at a local level, then we have no hope of giving the next generation a chance to start out free from the debts we incurred and didn't pay. This small election is one where we can see very plainly the value of our vote. The message I want to send to bureaucrats, legislators, politicians and the school board is "Make the hard calls and route us to a balanced budget, not more of the same." For me, it's "no on E."


Posted by Bob, a resident of another community
on May 1, 2011 at 7:56 am

Janet:

The current superintendent pays a fraction of property taxes the rest of us pay at around $2,400 a year and will be line to receive close to $200,000 a year in retirement guaranteed since it's based on your highest salary received in any year rather than what one puts into their retirement account. Nothing against the guy, but his situation is just so illustrative of the problems that have got us to this point: unequal property taxes thanks to Prop 13, trust fund babies taking advantage of parent child property transfers and an over generous CALSTRS retirement system.


Posted by nikonbob, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 1, 2011 at 2:09 pm

(From a FB posting a friend forwarded)

Are you sick of highly paid teachers?

Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do - babysit!

We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That's right. Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan-- that equals 6 1/2 hours).


Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day...maybe 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

LET'S SEE....

That's $585 X 180= $105,300

per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).


What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master's degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute -- there's something wrong here! There sure is!

The average teacher's salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student--a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Stierlin Estates
on May 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm

That kind of math only applies to privates schools. Bring on school vouchers and watch every one leave for private schools. The state mandates its role and responsibilities to educate children. If you think all it involves is babysitting, then you clearly missed out on a lot in your education with such a ridiculous argument.


Posted by What the Market will Bear, a resident of another community
on May 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Dear Nikonbob,

In your world of math, let's see, a UC Berkeley profession can have 800 students or eve more in a class. At $3/hr per student, he can make $2,400 per hour. For the year, he can teach three classes, 3 times per week. At 180 days of instruction, he should get paid: $11,664,000. That is right $11 Million!!!

By any chance have you been listening to Mark Goines or Doug Smith of the school board? Your screwed-up math methods are certainly along the lines of their PRO-UNION mentality. That is why we are in this mess.

Do the math by examining what the market will bear and not what the UNION feels entitled to. That is how our economy works. Entitlement programs have to come in line with our way of life.

It is time to bring in a new LASD Administration and A NEW School Board. Our current management is PRO-UNION. This will not bring about the change that we desperately need. STOP the WASTE.

Vote NO on E.


Posted by Nikonbob, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 1, 2011 at 10:48 pm

@Huh? -- If you think the piece is implying that teachers only babysit, then perhaps you weren't at school when they discussed sarcasm...

@What the market will bear -- I actually don't really pay attention to your school board, but if your opinion is that UNION's are the sole cause of all that is wrong with the schools, then there probably isn't much anyone could say that would change your mind.

The way I see it, the issue here is how to help the schools in the short term so the kids aren't hurt, while the long term problems are resolved. Is $193 really that big of a deal to the poor people of Los Altos?


Posted by What the Market will Bear, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2011 at 9:25 am

To Nikonbob,

As an active member of the PTA, I have been to PTA meetings with the board and PTA members use this 'baby-sitting' line. Myself and other parents find it offending that they want us to relate to the big budget issues in terms of babysitting. Is it because most of the room is filled with stay-at-home moms? Please stop using that line. Nearly all of us are capable of doing the research and understanding the budget issues for what they are. I trust that you can too.

I hope that I can change your mind or at least ask you to think about what I am thinking. We both care about education.

Here is my perspective:

Bill Gates was quoted in the Wall Street Journal and in other publications as saying that PENSIONS ARE DRAINING EDUCATION MONEY. He used a small army of qualified personnel to point out the 'Fuzzy Math' being used in District and State Education Budgets. His foundation is beginning to roll out support to communities such as ours. He urges reform, including the abandonment of defined benefits.

Web Link

"These budgets are way out of whack," Mr. Gates said. "They've used accounting gimmicks and lot things that are truly extreme." ... One focus of Mr. Gates is public pension funds' use of a relatively high discount rate to calculate obligations. The discount rate is an assumed rate of return used to calculate the current value of a future liability. The higher the rate, the smaller a fund's obligations appear--and the less that states need to contribute to their pension funds. Critics blame this accounting approach for contributing to state pension shortfalls, estimated nationwide to total more than $1 trillion."

Voting NO on Measure E is about stopping the waste. As a community, we elected officials to pay attention to agreements made with the teachers union. They gave them a 2% raise two years ago, all while thousands of bay area residents were losing their jobs. The LASD message: 'We have to protect our schools'. Is this protecting our schools or band-aiding our broken school system with our dollar bills? I can list the dozens of mistakes that have sunk our budget without return.

This administration along with the board are not qualified to make the best use of my almost $600 parcel tax. I can't give them even a single dollar more.

In today's education infrastructure, there is no way to hold the LASD Administration accountable. In which case, they WILL continue to mismanage.

Each of the LASD administration is geared to get a $4-8 Million Dollars pension package by the time they reach 55. There are no caps. We deserve creativity and better leadership for that price! Read the posts from the LASD and the School Board on why they need a $790 parcel tax with more demands to come. They describe themselves as prisoners of their own making.

As for what the market will bear? There are hundreds and hundreds of qualified ex engineers and young teachers willing to work for a scaled benefit package. If we are about giving our kids better education, then Give Them a Chance! Give others a chance to step in with ideas that will improve education.

Please lend your support to 'outside' thinking. If we all think the same, then no-one is allowed to think.

Vote No on E


Posted by Bart Carey, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm

To What the Market Will Bear,
I am late to the discussion here, but have been involved in these local educational issues for years.

You bring up some good points, but in regard to most of your frustrations you should be talking to the folks in Sacramento. I have no doubt some long term reforms are needed in California and elsewhere (not unique to LASD), but no on E is not a local fix it button. On the contrary, if E does not pass there will be further serious cuts at our valued local neighborhood schools. The kids will pay the biggest price, while the rest of us sit around debating whether or not the district has been properly managed. In fact they have done well in dealing with millions in cuts from Sacramento (which will get even worse), while still providing the best education in the state for our kids. Maybe they deserve a little more credit than blame.

So please be careful what you wish for, and make sure you understand the local implications of your vote, including who will be most affected one way or another. Vote yes on E to help over the next 6 years, and in the meantime we can all direct our efforts properly for reform, and this extends well beyond LASD.

Also be cautious in regard to the data and motivation of the no campaign. This has been discussed extensively elsewhere, including on the LATC site. The main cause of the district's financial problems is drastic reductions in state funding over recent years, a picture which gets more bleak at every turn. Though the no campaign would like to create anger toward the district/teachers/administrators for a variety of reasons, most of which are related to the goals of the charter school, try to see through the smokescreen and help provide some local funds which help all our kids.

As a parent (with no kids in LASD or BCS), I am angered by misleading tactics in this campaign, which threaten the good of our kids and our larger community.


Posted by KD, a resident of Waverly Park
on May 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Retirement Guru (from April 28)

Your math and logic are somewhat flawed.

Let's assume that the teacher and engineer both decide to retire at age 60, after 30 years of work. During that time, each has received 2% annual raises, cumulating a final salary of $100,000 each (cash salary, excluding benefits and the value of employer contributions to a defined benefit plan in the case of the teacher, or possible matching contribution to 401k in the case of the engineer).

And let's assume that the return on investment is 6% per year. These not unrealistic assumptions if we assume that $100,000 is about the average of the highest paid LASD and MVLA high school teachers, 2% is a reasonable rate for inflation / salary increase.

Over 30 years, the teacher and engineer would have each earned $2.28 million.

The teacher would have contributed 8% of salary (total $187,171) which would have grown (within CalSTRS) to $469,417 at retirement, a 6% per year, through the magic of compounding.

School districts (including LASD) and the state contribute an additional 8% and 2% of each teachers salary to CalSTRS annually. These funds plus investment returns thereon (assume 6% per year) bring the total of the teachers "account balance" to $1,056,188.

The engineer would have contributed 15% of salary ($342,666), which would have grown (at 6% annually, compounded), within the 401k, to $880,000.

At retirement, the teacher is "entitled" to a pension of $68,400 per year (equal to 2.2% (approx) of final 3 years average salary (approx $98,000) times years of service (30).

Web Link

Fidelity tells us that the cost to purchase a $68,400 a year / $5,700 a month life annuity (no beneficiaries) for 60 year old female living in California is approximately $1,014,000. So the teacher's pension has a market value of approximately $1 million at retirement – similar to the theoretical account balance (above) after contributions from the teacher, district, state and investment returns over the years.

Web Link

The engineer could use the $880,000 in the 401k to purchase a life annuity (no beneficiaries) that would provide monthly payments of $4,600 a month.

So the difference between the teacher's defined benefit plan and engineer's 401k appears to be $134,000 of capital value or $1,100 a month in retirement.

Except, that

1) whereas the engineer's monthly income is fixed for life, the teacher's pension has a Cost of Living Adjustment (typically 2% per year)/

Web Link

After 10 years, when the teacher is 70, her monthly pension payment will be $6,950, while the engineer is still at $4,600 per month.

2) the teacher should have been contributing another 7% of pre-tax salary to a 403b (so net, after tax income for both teacher and engineer were the same over the 30 year employment period). If we assume that the teacher's 403b also earns 6% per year compounded, the teacher at retirement has a 403b account balance of $410,000 which is enough to buy a life annuity of $2,141 a month.


Teacher Engineer
Pension at 60 $5,700 / mo
401k / 403b $2,141 / mo $4,600 / mo
Total $7,841 / mo $4,600

Pension at 70 $6,950 / mo
401k / 403b $2,141 / mo $4,600 / mo
Total $9,091 / mo $4,600


In summary, the current teacher / public sector defined benefit pension program provides a retirement benefit that is 70% richer than the 401k benefit available to most tax payers at retirement and almost 100% richer 10 years post retirement.


Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Bart Carey,
Don't you have twins starting at Gardner Bullis next year?


Posted by What the Market Will Bear, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Dear Bart,

I can understand why your perspective is different than mine. For one, myself and other families do not have the funds to continue to sustain the excessive pensions. The time has come to re-direct our focus to other alternatives. What I am asking you to do is to make room for creative thinking and creative, fresh actions.

The LASD administration does not have a system for accountability but it does have a track record of making BIG and MULTI MILLION DOLLAR mistakes. They can't even sway the teacher's union not to demand a 2% pay raise. They fail to see beyond their year to year needs. That is weak leadership. How can anyone possibly expect that they can put a balanced budget together? They are not qualified.

I do intend to support the schools that my children attend but not in the form of a parcel tax. I believe that a parcel tax borders on being illegal. Other communities cannot afford such a huge infusion to offset their deficits. Our neighbors in the Cupertino School District have appealed to the ACLU. Here is their letter: Web Link.

Can you guarantee that this new Measure E Tax it will go away in 6 years? Are you willing to give me and others a contract that says that if it becomes a perpetual tax, you will re-pay me for every year beyond the 6 years? I don't think that you can do that anymore than you can tell me that the funds will be well managed. If you need this money to bridge change, why not ask for it for only two years? Why do you need six? Why not ask it through LAEF? I would give it in that form because it does not bring about a blanket imposition on the community.

There is nothing solid behind the Measure E Tax. No commitment for results or consequences from the LASD. Who will they fire if they fail to balance the budget in one or two years? They are asking for 6 years. No-one is going to be held accountable.

If the jobs of the LASD leadership depended on delivering good education on the budget, they would be far more creative. I have read a number of viable alternatives to taxation. Visit the Bill Gates Site for methods and Data that his Education Fund in spearheading. In his data, good teachers can handle large classrooms. Poor teachers need a lot more help. We have seen that.

Other alternatives must be tested before you ask for any more money from the community. For one, make room for multi-disciplined teachers and young and eager teachers on your pay-roll. Why do you need 6 years to do that? They will bring an immediate financial and education change to our system. If what you plan is to keep the same teachers and administrators, then you will continue to add to the cost of education without improvement.

The LASD may think that money buys everything. The news is that it doesn't always. A lot of money is needed for the administration to continue to accrue towards their $4-8 Million Dollar Pensions. Tell me that the LASD will negotiate their own pensions down while we are figuring out how to nickel and dime the community. I don't think that our money going into their pensions will help the education of my children. That is why many of us are voting No on E. We have to aspire for change or we will just move side-ways. Measure E is a move side-ways, at a huge cost, and is just not good enough.

Unlike the LASD, that looks at the future year to year, I see continued taxation for years to come. No structural changes are promised with Measure E. No improvement in education. No fresh and eager teachers will get to compete for new jobs.

The LASD administration is a prisoner of its own making. It is frozen in time. We live in a different reality. We are no longer in 2002 when job prospects and stock options were plentiful. Our demographic is now seeing that the LASD million dollar pensions and PPO medical benefits for their entire families for administrators and teachers are better than our own. The LASD is engaging a different Los Altos now. We join our sister cities in promoting immediate change.

Without accountability, there is are no guarantees. In some way, I am asking of you what you are asking of voters like me. Give us time to drive for true fiscal responsibility and we will deliver better education. Outside thinking is needed.

When everyone thinks alike, then no one is allowed to think.

Bart, I feel good about taking a role in supporting this change. If feels just and right. Join us, STOP the WASTE.

Vote No on Measure E.


Posted by In agreement with above, a resident of The Crossings
on May 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Bart,
"Also be cautious in regard to the data and motivation of the no campaign."

I find this tremendously disturbing. The above poster (What the market will bear) could NOT have said it better.

I know that there are lots of people that view this as a BCS conspiracy. You need to open your eyes... regardless of whether they started this or not, "What the Market Will Bear"'s arguments are why so many of us have voted No.

I know it's going to be painful, but without inflicting the pain, there is no incentive for LASD do the hard work.

Had the teachers union been willing to make their concessions before this election, I'd have been willing to vote for the measure. But their refusal to do so is telling.

They need to be an enormous part of the solution--but it doesn't seem they are there yet.

People should think carefully about what happened in Wisconsin. The movement is underway. I think in the long run it will be helpful.

I think in the short term, it will be ugly.


Posted by nikonbob, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Bart,
Very well said.

I don't think the kids will really understand that they need to buck up and deal with the 'ugly' for the short term.

I fully understand that people are frustrated with the current situation, but a lot more will be accomplished is all sides work together, including the union, the board and the people of all the districts in the state. The hard and fast 'no new taxes' mentality is no more a solution than maintaining the current situation, and the real losers are the students.

I would put my politics aside in their interest, and all work to find a better way to run things, rather than trotting out tired old slogans such as 'stop the waste'.


Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2011 at 6:58 pm

More proof that pension costs are spiraling out of control: The number of retirees earning $100,000 or more from the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) has increased dramatically since 2009, according to new data obtained by the nonprofit California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.

For those of you not familiar with the foundation, it's one of the leading advocates for pension reform in California. On its website, the foundation publishes searchable databases of retirees earning $100,000 or more from a couple of state pension systems, including CalSTRS, the pension system for retired California teachers.

The foundation initially obtained the data for its "CalSTRS $100,000 pension club" database in May 2009. Back then there were 3,010 retirees earning $100,000 or more annually from CalSTRS. Earlier this month, the foundation obtained updated data from CalSTRS and the number has grown to 5,308 (5,309 if you count one woman earning $99,998.88).

That's a 76 percent increase. In less than two years.

And that's not all. The foundation, run by President Marcia Fritz, also requested a list of CalSTRS retirees earning $75,000 or more annually. Guess how many CalSTRS pensioners are earning between $75,000 and $99,999.99.

19,503.

Combined you're looking at 24,811 retired California teachers earning more than $75,000


Posted by What the Market Will Bear, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2011 at 7:25 pm

To Nikonbob,

We left it to LASD to do just what you wrote we needed to do. We gave them 7, 9, 11 years to do it, depending on when you want to start the clock on their rolling requests for parcel tax money. They have FAILED to balance a budget time and time again. They achieved a bigger deficit and growing benefits for the staff. See the salary analysis prepared by KD above. It is the best I have seen. LASD is off base asking for more money.

Key Point: We will see the LASD administration continue to fail because they lack accountability.

Set up a plan for accountability and the discussions between all the parties will gain momentum and get somewhere. In which case, you will not need $790 in parcel taxes because you will address the matter with cooperation and creativity. Something surely lacking in today's mentality.

We have heard all the same messages in the Measure E campaign so many times before that they have turned into cliché: Money is needed to 'Keep our schools strong', 'Don't throw the kids under the bus', 'We have to sustain our property values', 'We have to keep our excellent teachers or we will lose them', and …. 'We have to work together'. All of which are great messages if we didn't see that you are still planning to feed the 'beast' by deviating hard earned funds from my family into your broken budget.

LASD has some matters to address before they can come to the table asking for more money. Address the $4-8Million Pensions of the administration to start. They alone can handle this one or do they need us to work together to make that happen?

If you say that we can't change that or that we can't fire them and replace them with others who are more capable, then you lead us to the same conclusion: LASD is a prisoner of their own making. More money will do nothing for real change.

We need to think differently than in the past and make a difference. We have opportunities for better times ahead.

Vote No on E.


Posted by Bart Carey, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Will try my best to answer some comments.

Ron, don't be too quick to assume. We are lucky, three excellent school options, BCS, GBS, and private. No on E hurts both BCS and GBS, and also all the property owners who send their kids to private schools. No winners there. The good news is that Yes on E helps them all. I have been involved in these issues for a long time, sometimes taking stances that could be construed as pro or anti LASD or pro or anti charter, never based upon where my kids attend, always based upon what seems right for our community. My credentials here are reasonably good. Feel free to comment on your own background or that of the no campaign if you think it would be of interest.

What the Market Will Bear, I certainly hear your frustration, and I suspect we will remain respectfully far apart on these issues. The additional tax will go away in 6 years, per the ballot. You are right that creative, fresh actions will be necessary, and this will be the case whether or not E passes. But those "fresh actions" will be much worse for our kids if E does not pass. They are the most important ones in this whole equation, even if you feel good sending a message to LASD. Regarding sister cities, note that PAUSD and MVLA overwhelmingly passed parcel taxes or bond measures in 2010--their structural issues are similar to LASD (and other districts across the state), but interestingly no organized opposition that I know of.....

Resident of the Crossings-I have seen and discussed the facts that I see in regard to the association between the no campaign and BCS. There is not much wiggle room. But you are also correct many will vote no who have no interest in BCS, and good for anybody who votes what they believe, yes or no. On the other hand, influencing voters with a hidden agenda bothers me. Review some discussion on the LATC site if you have interest.

Also, if I read you correctly, you are willing to create sacrifices in the classroom for the students since the teachers were stubbornly trying to keep their best deal. I don't necessarily agree with the teachers, but I also would not take your stance.

Good lively discussion.


Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2011 at 7:56 pm

From Web Link

San Diego Has No Obligation to Provide Health Care Benefits to Workers Who Haven't Yet Retired, Judge Rules
Friday, April 29th, 2011


Ruling could affect San Diego labor negotiations to reduce $1.36 billion liability

A Superior Court judge has ruled that the city of San Diego has no obligation to provide health care benefits to workers who haven't yet retired, a key decision that is likely to have a major impact on ongoing labor negotiations to reduce what is currently a $1.36 billion unfunded liability for the city.

Judge Ronald Prager ruled Thursday that city workers aren't guaranteed health benefits upon retirement because the perk is funded solely by taxpayers, exists outside of the retirement system and has always been an optional benefit provided by the city. Prager said that it "makes no sense" to consider retiree health a vested benefit for city workers.

Besides the city's $2.1 billion pension deficit, the next biggest financial albatross for San Diego has been the promise by former Mayor Pete Wilson to provide guaranteed health benefits to retired city workers. He promised that benefit in exchange for workers opting out of Social Security to save the city money in 1982.


Full story
Web Link


Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2011 at 8:02 pm

LASD $100K club

Name Monthly Annual District
CELESTE, ROBERT G $9,956.73 $119,480.76 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY
ECKOLS, LINDA K $9,594.90 $115,138.80 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY
GRATIOT, MARGARET H $14,854.59 $178,255.08 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY
HARRIS, ANDREA B $8,524.10 $102,289.20 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY
HOFFMAN, RUSSELL $10,009.06 $120,108.72 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY
JUSTUS, TIMOTHY L $16,778.57 $201,342.84 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY
LEPAGE, ANNE B $9,035.54 $108,426.48 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY
LEWIS, LARRY T $9,300.70 $111,608.40 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY
LIEWER, RICHARD W $10,801.87 $129,622.44 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY
MCNULTY, DAVID G $10,950.25 $131,403.00 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY
WEISMAN, PATRICIA D $12,584.53 $151,014.36 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY


Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Bart,
You think that your intentions are good and not dependent upon where your plan to send your kids to school. I'm not disputing that. I just wish you could give others credit for the same good intentions.

The reason I mentioned the twins is that you presented yourself as thought you have no axe to grind ("no kids in LASD or BCS"). While true, it's not an accurate reflection of your position, given that you will have two in school next year.


Posted by No on E, a resident of The Crossings
on May 2, 2011 at 9:20 pm

In a scenario where an institution or an organization becomes 'prisoner of their own making', the only way out is from within. Well put.

Go to the LASD and the board and tell them to LEAD BY EXAMPLE. Start by cutting their own salaries and pensions. Prove that they are not the problem itself.

Not from BCS. Measure E aside, I will never look at the LASD the same-way again. I voted NO.


Posted by Bart Carey, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Dear Ron, It actually is an accurate reflection--I have no axe to grind. Just my opinions after looking at all kinds of information, for better or worse.


Posted by Retirement Guru, a resident of Shoreline West
on May 3, 2011 at 2:09 am

KD:

In response to my 28 April entry (which was using BASIC retirement calculations for those commenters throwing out all sorts of figures) your assumptions (logic?) are different and equally flawed. Some of your data is also inaccurate and misleading.

I provided a basic over view. Note, the teacher's retirement is not subject to COLA. it's fixed. Also, tt would be rare for the "average teacher" to hit $100,000 a year. Although perhaps not in the MVLA high school district, one of the highest around. (Similar to the soaring public salaries and generous pensions down at MV City Hall!) You also assume teacher invests in a 403B. I don't, but wouldn't be surprised if the smarter ones did, or a ROTH IRA given their lower salary ranges.

You do touch on some interesting point. Some administrators have spiked their salaries in recent years. In Mountain View Whisman School District two administrators added in the cost of their health benefits and monthly phone and car allowances as well. Web Link
Those two were cleared after a State audit only because the practice of spiking is technically legal, although the State is no moving legislation through to eliminate this type of manipulation. Some school district still do allow the practice of folding in benefits for teachers as well.


Posted by Crossings Resident, a resident of The Crossings
on May 3, 2011 at 8:42 am

Bart,
I appreciate your generally measured tone. You are correct that I am willing to inflict some pain. I just see no evidence that the teacher's union nor the LASD board are willing to consider reform.
So long as we continue to "enable" them to ignore the bigger problem, they will.
Will our no on E vote influence Sacramento. Not by itself--but as more and more districts say NO, it will.
I'm actually a democrat and in basic support with the need for unions. But they've lost sight of their initial objective and I fear if they don't become reasonable quickly (re: pensions, healthcare, seniority, tenure) and agree to compensation the way most of us are compensated, they will be stripped of ALL power a la Wisconsin. That will be a big loss for us nationally.
They need to actively be part of the solution or they will disappear as dinosaurs.
They're not getting the message now and I don't see any other way to send that message.
Harsh, yes. Short term painful, but long term positive.


Posted by What the Market Will Bear, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2011 at 9:10 am

Dear Bart, Nikonbob, and others who voted Yes on E:

If measure E passes, will you feel good when looking at the smiling faces of the Emerging Multi-millionaire club? How much will these pensions be worth by the time they reach 55? I hope that you are factoring in these costs into future budgets. They will be in the $30-$45 Million dollar range for the Administration alone.

MULTI-MILLIONAIRE club:

Jeff Bair, Superintedent
Alyssa Gallagher, Asst Superindenent
Randall Kenyon
All the School Principals (Administration)
Teachers

For YES on E:

If measure E passes, it is a loss to education and a loss to the spirit of our community.

The people on this list and their families are the only ones that will be smiling from the heart. Education WILL continue to suffer and the tax imposition on our way of thinking will affect the good will that we once had for LASD.

Now, suppose that you are right, and voting yes is the only alternative that you found. As responsible voters, will you make change happen? Or will you come back for more in the next round? Please think ahead. You put smiles on the people above but you impact families like us with your votes.

Every year that you fail to get cooperation from LASD, the cost of non-action is the continued accrual of the pensions. As Doug Smith has stated, he will not take away any benefit that has been accrued because 'it is illegal'. I think that taxing my parcel in support of these pensions is illegal.

Bart, Nikonbob, does this operational set-up sound right to you? Your YES vote is costing us more than $193. As residents of LA, your vote is costing my family thousands of dollars in committed funds for LASD pensions. The longer you enable LASD to operate as they are, the greater the cost to our community. Six years of this is more than $193 per year. The pension commitment will swell beyond repair and we will be asked for thousands. I imagine that you already voted yes. I urge you to think about what you will do to show responsibility for your vote.


For No on E:

If measure E fails, it is the beginning of some level of cooperation at the bargaining table . Things will move much faster because there is no other choice but to do take corrective actions and improve. Tough decisions have to be made that have been postponed. I will support the schools by donating to LAEF and volunteering.

SENIORS in our community, please consider that some of us don't have MULTI-MILLIONS of dollars in our pensions or guaranteed employment. Help us bring reality to the entitlement of LASD.

VOTE DOWN ALL FUTURE LASD TAXATION WITHOUT RESPONSIBILITY


Posted by Seth, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2011 at 9:15 am

We support the LASD fully and voted YES!

Shame on those of you who voted No. You are damming
yourselves, your children, and our city.


Prop E - VOTE YES!!!


Posted by Wow, a resident of The Crossings
on May 3, 2011 at 10:23 am

Wow Seth! That is the best you can do? Send damming remarks. Why all the hate? Are you not able to state your opinions or are you associated with LASD?

Mr Smith and Mr. Goines. Read Seth's e-mail. Are you still laughing at the anonymous opposition? I bet Seth intimidates a lot of parents at school but not in the sophisticated manner that you do. You need to give him some of your pointers on cutting people down in a weak attempt to discredit them.

I guess that you can relax. Seth has dammed all the No voters.
Thanks Seth!!


Posted by KD, a resident of Waverly Park
on May 3, 2011 at 10:56 am

Retirement Guru

Teachers receive a "2 Percent Simple Benefit Adjustment" which essentially the same as COLA.

This from the CalSTRS website:

"2 Percent Simple Benefit Adjustment (Education Code Sections 22140, 22141 and 24402) The CalSTRS Defined Benefit Program provides an automatic 2 percent simple benefit adjustment to allowances payable to all benefit recipients to provide some protection against the effects of inflation. This annual "benefit improvement factor" is applied September 1 of each year following the first anniversary of the effective date of the benefit.

Web Link

(my previous post had a link to the pension COLA description on the CalPERS website)

Regarding the $100,000 salary figure, this was the number originally used by "Not from BCS" and that you re-used while chastising him/her for not understanding the impact of interest compounding. (The highest paid LASD teacher currently earns around $87,000 a year in salary, the highest paid MVLA teacher earns $118,000 and it goes without saying that certain administrators earn much more).

The purpose of my prior post was to illustrate how overly generous the California public sector defined benefit pension system has become. Specifically, it provides a retirement benefit that is almost twice as valuable as that available to a citizen who receives a similar salary and invests in a 401k. Additionally, the defined benefit system allows participants to accrue unlimited benefits (as a percentage of salary), whereas annual contributions to a 401k are currently capped at $16,500 (with $5,000 of makeup room for older contributors). I could go on to describe how 401ks only make sense if the taxpayers marginal tax rate at time of withdrawal is lower than at time of contribution, but now is not the time, nor is this the place.

On a final note, I would be very interested to learn which of my assumptions / logic is / are flawed and which of my data is "inaccurate and misleading".

Sincerely

KD


Posted by LASD resident, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2011 at 11:43 am

When is the $590.00 up for renewal? Can we repeal that?

And can we recall the LASD Trustees that have created this mess? Someone needs to hit the re-set button!

I voted No and my kids are headed to private school next year. I am sick of the LASD mismanagement and we are leaving our neighbors and dear friends to make sure our kids get a great education. So sad.


Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2011 at 1:07 pm

People who vote to raise other people's taxes are evil, plain and simple.

Web Link

Don't Be Evil


Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2011 at 2:28 pm

LASD resident,
It's really sad that you have to do that. What's even sadder is that LASD is really glad you are leaving - your parcel tax and property tax dollars are staying in the district. They have the same money, but less kids to educate. That means more bennies for the union staff.

One of the reasons they hate charters, is that a lot of money goes with the kids, rather than stay in the district.

The incentive scheme is ass backwards - the poorer job they do, the more kids go to private schools, the more money they have per student!!!


Posted by When does it expire?, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2011 at 2:34 pm

When is the $597.00 parcel tax up for renewal? Anyone know?


Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm

When does it expire,
It expires this July 1, but they have been advised by their attorneys that they don't need our approval anymore, so don't expect them to ask for it.
We can, however, repeal the $597 via prop 218 with a 50% majority :)


Posted by Confused, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm

How can they not ask the voters to reauthorize on the $597?

This is what the text of the measure said:
To hire, train, retain teachers, provide competitive teacher salaries, fund school libraries, purchase textbooks, preserve science classes/modern labs, maintain neighborhood schools and small class size, protect junior high electives like music, foreign language, computer classes, and balance the educational program, shall Los Altos School District increase its existing parcel tax and annual appropriations limit by $333/parcel beginning July 1, 2002, with independent citizens' oversight of expenditures and exemptions for parcels owned/occupied by person 65 years/older? In accordance with State law, the voters shall have the opportunity to authorize district expenditures of revenue generated by this special tax every four years. (Web Link).

It's pretty darn clear that they need to ask every four years. How can they not be doing that?


Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I raised those same issues at a recent board meeting. "We'll address that after measure E". However, they clearly stated that they have been advised that they don't have to do it.
Ballot language means nothing to this lot!


Posted by YES Folks: What next?, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Yes Voters, you got my parcel money. What you going to do with it? Same old same old? You thieves! You can take my $193 but you just lost out on my $1,000 dollar donation. You won't get a dime out of me for LAEF (AKA LASD) until you show results.

I guess it is a good thing that LAEF has beat their record for funds. They are going to need them now and for future funding.

PARCEL TAX PRELIMINARY RESULTS
Six school districts in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties appeared to be successful in passing parcel taxes Tuesday. One other measures was headed for failure. All measures needed to win a two-thirds vote to pass.
Santa Clara County
Measure A: Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District, six years, $49 -- passed
Measure B: Sunnyvale School District, seven years, $59 -- passed
Measure C: Cupertino Union School District, six years, $125 -- passed
Measure E: Los Altos School District, six years, $193 -- passed
San Mateo County
Measure A: San Carlos School District, extension, eight years, $110.60 -- passed
Measure B: Ravenswood City School District, extend current $98 for seven years and add new seven-year $98 tax -- passed


Measure C: Jefferson Union High School District, four years, $96 -- failed



Posted by livid, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2011 at 1:01 am

What a sad state of affairs tonight. It appears the additional tax passed (by less than 100 votes!) I am sure the LASD will misuse these funds as well and come back asking for more.

Hope they are ready to go toe to toe with the Union and force concessions for the kid's sake and if any of them had a ounce of sense, they would fix the mess with the Gardner Bullis Charter School. Everyone is sick of the whining that all that ills the district stems from this school.


Posted by Voted yes - early, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2011 at 9:00 am

HMM. Just found this site. I was an early voter (yes). Much of your information did not reach everyone. We referenced information from the board. Newspapers are supposed to uncover abuse, not citizens. I think that you need to lobby the Mercury News to take the case. The Town Crier is probably a built-in 'friend' of LASD.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Rex Manor
on May 5, 2011 at 9:39 am

Congratulations to LASD Parents and Students. Please follow up by participating so that the district does what you've voted for them to do. Based on campaign rhetoric, oversight committee applications should already be flowing in.


Posted by Observer, a resident of another community
on May 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Regarding the $597 parcel tax: I believe that the previous renewal election included language authorizing the tax to continue without further renewal votes. At least, that's what I heard, though I don't live in the LASD so I may have misunderstood. If true, then it was approved by the voters, so the district is not doing anything underhanded by not bringing renewals to a vote: the are not required to. Saves money, putting items on the ballot can be pricey.


Posted by Marcus, a resident of another community
on May 6, 2011 at 8:54 am

"Observer" Do you REALLY think the LASD would do an underhanded thing like that? Come on now, you are talking about a school district that educates CHILDREN, they ARE NOT a corporation in it for the money.

Besides, they have many check/balances that make sure nothing like that happens. You need to do some more research before throwing out your unwise opinions.


Posted by Janet, a resident of another community
on May 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm

On the $597 parcel tax, I seem to recall that it would no longer require a vote.

Marcus, since you are such a believer in our check and balances system, will you check into it? Anyone? One would hope that Observer heard wrong, but people close to the schools probably know the details better.

The cost of medicare and medical is going up. Those are some big bills for the employees that the local schools have to pick-up. My guess is that they need a lot of money to run the way that they do.


Posted by Observer, a resident of another community
on May 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Marcus, I'm not accusing them of doing anything underhanded. I was just saying that someone at the time told me that the previous renewal specifically asked the voters to allow the tax to continue without approval every few years. I mean, jeesh, re-read my post. I SAID, "...the district is not doing anything underhanded by not bringing renewals to a vote: the(y) are not required to. "

I do believe that LASD completely within their legal and ethical rights to do this. If the voters didn't want this to happen, they could have voted that one down, but they approved it.

So I'm not really sure why you're accusing me of "throwing out unwise opinions."


Posted by Nine, a resident of Rex Manor
on May 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Gardner Bullis School is not the Charter School.


Posted by bcs parent-Marci D., a resident of another community
on May 6, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Bullis Charter School just made it onto the list of top elementary schools in the State (ranked 12th). It also earned the designation of #1 Charter School in the State.

No other school in the LASD made the list until you get to Oak (#31)

It is a lottery to get in with 15 applications for each kinder spot...does that shed some light on why LASD hates us? We are killing them, without the Union, in their own backyard.

Charter schools are the way of the future! Should we pull a 2nd Charter and meet the demand? And you think they are mad now?


Posted by Janet, a resident of another community
on May 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm

I think that LASD needs to turn into charters. All schools. No unions. Did you check out the Town Crier? They want to absorb BCS. Dreaming. Geez.

How can they say that the union crooks are only in scto? What do these folks approve anyway if not local benefits? Scto is not the one that taxed my parcel. They blame Scto and BCS but not themselves. They LOVE their LASD admins. Why is that? These are wealthy folks that give the support. What do they get out of it?

Their fairytaile is over. BTW, I voted for the $597 parcel thinking that it would be the end of it. Was I wrong...


Posted by Ike, a resident of Castro City
on May 7, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Re: the discussion comparing a teacher's retirement and the hypothetical engineer's 401k retirement account, at this rate we have no idea what the tax rate will be on retirees withdrawing from their 401ks, but rest assured to pay for these public pensions the tax rate will bound to be high. ROTH IRAs are the way to go.


Posted by parent, a resident of another community
on May 7, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Yes BCS was at the top but.... how many ELL students, how many special ed students (none?), how many kids asked not to take the test. I'd be curious to see those stats. Just saying....


Posted by Obeserver, a resident of another community
on May 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm

"We are killing them, without the Union, in their own backyard." Yes, without the union. Is it true (as I heard from someone whose daughter taught at BCS) that the teachers there get NO benefits? But you don't have to, with no union. Must have some significant teacher turnover there, is all I can say. Making teaching an even less financially secure profession will really attract the best and the brightest to teach our kids. Way to go.


Posted by MV Native, a resident of another community
on May 8, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Observer:
Teachers at BCS get benefits. Here is the benefits list copied from their website.


Small School - approx. 400 students
Small class size
Instructional Aides in every class
Teacher support and development
Governance based on a collaborative approach
Leadership opportunities
Teacher-Oriented Vision
Supportive parents and community
Top Salaries & Benefits
Highly competitive salaries $45,000 - $83,172
Up to 14 years credit for experience
Comprehensive Benefits Package (health, dental, vision)
Laptop for every teacher
individualized learning
technology-infused instruction
environmental education
project-based, experiential learning
character development
comprehensive enrichment curriculum
extensive co-curricular activities
service learning
teacher collaboration
parent and community involvement

As a teacher I welcome charters, they create competition, and make unions unnecessary.
Unions force teachers to join, and prevent innovation. They do not exist to help your child get the best education possible. There main objective is to get the most pay for the least amount of work. There second objective is to have as much political influence as possible.
They use this influence squash the competition.


Posted by Here is the Data, a resident of another community
on May 8, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Parent-
I looked up the STAR test results I was interested to find the answer to your question. Here is the data from Language Arts:

Almond 2 3 4 5 6
Students Tested 81 70 75 87 87
% of Enrollment 100.0 % 98.6 % 93.8 % 98.9 % 100.0 %

Covington
Students Tested 62 63 73 50 76
% of Enrollment 96.9 % 98.4 % 97.3 % 100.0 % 100.0 %

Gardner Bullis
Students Tested 44 45 37 30 25
% of Enrollment 100.0 % 100.0 % 100.0 % 100.0 % 100.0 %

Loyola
Students Tested 81 75 84 80 87
% of Enrollment 100.0 % 98.7 % 97.7 % 95.2 % 96.7 %

Oak
Students Tested 80 70 60 56 60
% of Enrollment 100.0 % 97.2 % 100.0 % 100.0 % 100.0 %

Santa Rita
Students Tested 85 69 60 77 89
% of Enrollment 100.0 % 95.8 % 100.0 % 97.5 % 100.0 %

Springer
Students Tested 72 67 81 61 82
% of Enrollment 98.6 % 97.1 % 93.1 % 96.8 % 94.3 %

District
Students Tested 505 459 470 441 506
% of Enrollment 99.4 % 97.7 % 96.7 % 98.0 % 98.4 %

Bullis Charter School
Students Tested 55 41 49 43 38
% of Enrollment 100.0 % 97.6 % 100.0 % 97.7 % 100.0 %

It looks like Bullis Charter actually tested a larger percentage of their school population than the district did.

Here is the percentage tested in math:
Bullis Charter School
Students Tested 55 42 49 43 38
% of Enrollment 100.0 % 100.0 % 100.0 % 97.7 % 100.0 %

District
Students Tested 505 460 472 439 503
% of Enrollment 99.4 % 97.9 % 97.1 % 97.6 % 97.9 %

More info can be found at:
Web Link




Posted by Here is the data, a resident of another community
on May 8, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Sorry about the difficult to read data. Here is the main finding -
BCS actually tested a larger percentage of students than the district did. I know that the district does everything they can to maximize test scores- Top down curriculum, lots of practice, moving low scoring kids around ( think covington until last year) I don;t think that BCS spends as much on test prep, they have all of that other stuff -mandarin, Engineering, Visual and Preforming Arts


Posted by Tax Payer for charters, a resident of another community
on May 8, 2011 at 9:22 pm

A recent report shows that Bullis is actually saving the district over 1 million dollars/ year. Think how much better it would be for everyone if all of the schools in LASD were charters-
They would have to be real charters -- not charters where the teachers union still operates.
Here are some of the benefits-
Local parental control
No more one size fits all curriculum
No more grades were there is no escaping the "bad teachers" Every School has a grade that parents dread.
True innovation-- get the school program that you have always wanted ( Mandarin, Parent Co-op, Science and Technology)
Donated dollars go to classroom instead of keeping programs a float
Better qualified teachers
School Board and Union loose most of their power.
Why does Bullis exist? Because parents like it. Parents from all over the district, not just a few parents from the Hills.
Charter Schools start up every year, all over California, mostly in places with far less resources than those that exist here. There are quite a few organizations to assist you.
Los Altos Schools are tops because of the parents and kids -- not the district. I suspect any charter started up would soon out score the rest of the schools in the district.


Posted by Cost of Charters, a resident of another community
on May 9, 2011 at 9:49 am

How much will the parent contribution be if LASD turns into charters? We contribute $1000 per child. I know that BCS has an exteded program. What if you don't use it? Do you still have to pay the full $4K contribution?

I want to move away from covering costs for programs that I don't use. Parcel taxes are not the way to go. They grandfather in cost of living expenses well into the future and I cannot feel comfortable that I will have the funds to cover them when I am 55. By that time, I have to worry about college tuitions for multiple kids.

The $4k contribution to a charter for multiple children would stop many of us from switching. Can you address this? I would love a charter for all the reasons that you list, but how much will it cost?


Posted by Sick of BCS BS, a resident of The Crossings
on May 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Originally charter schools were set up to help under performing schools in financially strapped districts achieve better educational results.... They were not designed for parents (of wealthy districts) who had their neighborhood school temporarily closed and are mad.

I personally think the closing of Bullis elementary was a mistake (should never have opened Covington and/or Springer), but the BCS contingent only adds to the problem because they couldn't work within the parameters of the LASD board's decisions. Now they argue that the LASD board made a bad decision by re-opening Gardner Bullis. Lest you forgot, the LASD board indicated that they would eventually re-open Bullis. Close Bullis - parents = mad, re-open Gardner-Bullis parents = mad. Outside of your own private country club neighborhood (oh, I forgot, non-unionized) school, How can any board make you happy?

But no, the "do it my way or I'll sue your backside/BCS folks would not stand for that. Hence a series of contentious lawsuits attmtping to get a (in essence) small private school at the public's expense.

Now, BSC supporters argue that the prior successes of the LASD are not due to excellent programs, qualified caring teachers (and yes some are better than others), and parent involvement but rather because LASD parents are highly educated. I guess this is some sort of Darwinian theory on education.

A stronger argument would be that the parents of BCS students probably have a higher level of education (as a whole) than those parents of the LASD students. It also can be argued that the total monies per BCS student is higher than that of the LASD student. I believe students in BCS receive something like 13-14k per student and a LASD student receives around 11k. Yes, that does include the parent contribution (which only strengthens the argument that the BCS is a quasi-private school in sheep's clothing). Hum, the BCS likely has more money spent per student and their parents are better/higher educated. Given that formula, shouldn't they be the #1 school in the state (public/private/charter)?

FYI, charter school teacher's can unionize, so watch out!


Posted by Cost of Charters, a resident of another community
on May 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm

To Sick of BCS BS,

I guess I was sick of BCS until measure E. Now, I am not happy with either, but less so with LASD. I became less happy with LASD after learning that Justus has a pension valued at more or less $8 Million and that the current set of three LASD Administrators are aiming in that direction.

LASD underestimated the resolve of the LAH people. Weather they were right or wrong, it cost the district some of our biggest contributors and engulfed us in multiple law-suits. This was hardly a surprise, was it? LASD was warned. Why did they do it? Why didn't Justus get fired over it?

The LASD administration has lost the glory that it enjoyed before the fiasco. They are now in a corner and want us to foot the bill. That is what it comes down to, not weather or not BCS exists.

The problem of lawsuits continues to stare the district in the face. What is their solution to it? Hating BCS is not it! They can't regain LAH. They lost it! They have to re-structure and do with less revenue. Close a school. The jobs of the poor decision makers need to be impacted, not the community.

Post Measure E: Will they continue to touch-up the medical benefits for the teachers and their families? MEDICAL has gone up an amazing amount over the last 5 years. Why does LASD have to be provided with a PPO for the employee and families when the rest of us pay more for an HMO and extra for our families? These are local measures that show the administrative protectionism of the unions.

Education is not an expectator sport for the board to experiment (closing and opening schools). They told the LAH that they would open Bullis Gardner some-day? Why would they promise that? We didn't have enough funds then and we don't have enough funds today! The LAHs people knew better.

We are in the same place at LAH was in 2002. We are asked to contribute with no-end in sight. Bad decisions often lead to ever more bad decisions.

I would not want to be a part of BCS, but I would like to see what it would take for my local school to become a charter. We are stagnant in many areas of education. It is time to improve. The Charter people boast that they can educate for less. That is what I want to know. Can we afford a charter?




Posted by LAH parent, a resident of another community
on May 9, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Lasd did not lose the hills. There are lots of families in the hills who are huge supporters of lasd and are disillusioned with the charter. The charter started out focused on being a small school with individual learning plans. Wanny still sells it that way (thus the high app rate) but it's really not the case anymore


Posted by bikes2work, a resident of The Crossings
on May 9, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Sick of BCS writes: "I personally think the closing of Bullis elementary was a mistake (should never have opened Covington and/or Springer)"

I personally think LASD closed Bullis with the intention of renting the site to a private school in a fashion similar to the way PAUSD leases the former Fremont School site to Pinewood Academy. It would have been a total cash cow. BCS ruined that idea, so LASD had to reopen it with the hope that Bullis Charter School would fade away. That didn't happen. BCS is more popular than ever, and it has attracted many families from my neighborhood and all over Los Altos. Meanwhile LASD is now struggling to support too many campuses. They should probably give Covington to BCS. It is the only site large enough for a K-8 program.

Charters are designed to challenge the status quo. Doesn't matter if the district is wealthy or poor. In the case of LASD, the unwillingness of the Board to develop a magnet school for any purpose has fueled the fire for BCS.




Posted by LASD BCS Fiscal, a resident of another community
on May 10, 2011 at 9:47 am

There appears to be least three different points of view on Measure E.

1. LASD: Wants to keep status quo, make all decisions behind the red curtain (running deficits) without penalty or consequence and pass the bill to the entire community.

2. BCS: Wants money from the district to run a private school

3. FISCAL: Half? of LA Residents (non-seniors) want to stop the waste in pay, medical, pensions. Stop the parcel taxes. Want improvement in education (no more tenure, better quality teachers), but not to the education standards of BCS.

Doug Smith: $790 parcel tax is not pitching in!!! $20 dollars is pitching in. In what world do you live in? Put your feet back on earth.

Neither LASD nor BCS satisfy the needs of the FISCAL group. We want Public Education with Parent Involvement back. For the extras, Parents pay the price through volunteering and donations to PTA/LAEF, not those that don't make use of the school system. Everyone supports the schools already, through State and Federal taxes. Better LASD management and control of the unions is needed.


Posted by Me Too, a resident of another community
on May 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

I think that some of us think about living within our means. We like the BCS model, but we can't afford it... LASD is trapped in their own union net. They refuse to change. We need help from BCS to create a similar system that is affordable.


Posted by Doug, a resident of another community
on May 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

The BCS model wouldn't have to be so expensive to the parents if the parcel tax dollars were given equally. It is totally do-able but the public has to demand it!


Posted by Fiscal?, a resident of another community
on May 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Yes, of course, I would enroll in a BCS type of school, as would most of the No on E parents, if the cost was not propelling.

Demands of LASD don't work. Think about it, the BCS people cannot demand even with the justification of 'equality' and their financial legal backing. For parents of LAH, private schools are an option. Not so much for all Los Altans. We have to face the teachers and principals daily. We have to put up a friendly face every day. There are social consequences for ourselves and our kids. Else, we would have stood up a long time ago. It is going to take more than making demands or voting 'No' quietly.

Fiscal folks from Cupertino want to make a change too. What can communities like us do? Unite? Cutting the tax flow is about the only thing that we can do. The Senior vote is the liability. They should not get to vote if they don't have any 'skin' in the game. Can we legaly change this? Measure E would not have passed without them.


Posted by LASD, a resident of another community
on May 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm

The Town Crier reported that according to Baeir, the LASD teachers are offering 5 days of furloughs. How can this be alright after taxing to community so much. The education system is suffering. I don't mind paying for education, if that is where my money is going to go.

Can Bullis Charter School offer an Open House for Parents Who Want to know more about charter schools or for Parents Who, like BCS, are Working to build a New LASD?

Courtney? Ron? BCS?


Posted by Responding to LASD, a resident of another community
on May 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm

LASD - you need to read the budget reports. It was very clear that the parcel tax will help the deficit but it will not solve the entire problem. A much larger parcel tax would have been needed and unfortunately that amount did not poll well. The money is going to education. All you need to do is read the document. Yes the deficit is partially caused by teachers feeling a right to what they were promised - incredible medical benefits and a great pension. However, most of the cause is by the state government taking away promised funds, even after the schools already budgeted for them and spent the money to run the schools. There are lots of great parent education reform groups where you can get the information you need.


Posted by LASD, a resident of another community
on May 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm

The state had to make cuts due to reduced revenue. They took more money from colleges than they did from K-12. About 40% of the state budget goes to education. What else can the state do? What do you propose that they cut? Stop blaming Sacramento. We live within our means. It really that simple.

Five (5) furlough days does not show good will from the teachers. Parcel Tax Money is going to support the unions and the excesses. Their decisions are not centered on education, they are centered around the commitments made to the entitled (whom we told we are supposed to be greatful to).

I can't imagine passing this LASD entitlement system over to the new generations of Los Altans. Parents who want to Build a New LASD -- there are many of us. The question is, how do we look into another charter school(s)? Can BCS grow a second school?


Posted by bikes2work, a resident of The Crossings
on May 11, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I find one thing incredibly ironic in all of this. The parcel tax is not eligible as an itemized deduction on income taxes. Whereas the donation that parents give to LAEF (or the foundation that supports BCS) is fully tax deductable.

"Deductible personal property taxes are only those that are based on the value of the personal property. " from Web Link The school parcel tax is not and Ad Valorem tax.

I personally would rather give to the foundations that support the schools and get the deduction, than pay the parcel tax with no deduction.

I wonder if Measure E would have passed if this little tidbit of info was well known? I think most people do itemize the parcel tax. They just lump it together with the Ad Valorem tax because it is on the same bill from the County Assessor. They just haven't been audited yet.


Posted by Public School Supporter, a resident of another community
on May 12, 2011 at 7:31 am

I'm a big supporter of public schools (and yes completely annoyed with BCS' tactics and flouting the intent of the charter school movement). I actively worked to pass Measure E and think it was very necessary. HOWEVER I am very upset if the teachers union thinks a 5 day furlough and going from 5 to 10% of medical insurance payments is really doing their fair share. The furlough days hurt the students and parents - lost educational days and, for working parents, payments to babysitters, etc. Furthermore, it is a one-time cut. The teachers need to move toward the standard of 80/20 insurance coverage. Yes it's a big change for them but it's necessary under this economic climate. The teachers say they can't do it, they were promised coverage and pension benefits - fine. If they are unwilling to help out the cause then they need to identify cuts that will not hurt the students!! Furlough days hurt our students!!


Posted by Me Too, a resident of another community
on May 12, 2011 at 11:11 am

To bikes2work,

I didn't even consider that Measure E was not tax deductable. The assumption of LASD is that in Los Altos, we are all well to do and willing to pay what it takes to keep things moving smoothly. This may have changed the minds of more than the 54 votes needed, though.

Most people I know are financially well. Even to them, parcel taxes are not compatible with responsible thinking. I assume that we will be much more prepared the next time. The LASD system knows no better. It will need to be stopped by the majority.


Posted by Janet, a resident of another community
on May 12, 2011 at 11:48 am

Public School Supporter,

My entire neighborhood agrees with you. We had 'Yes' signs all around our yards, N. LA. The PTA needs to step in since we were led to believe by the organizers that changes were in the works. Like the precinct walk, this is uncomfortable to do alone. No furloughs! That is why we voted for measure E.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Is it me, or does it seem a little odd that the issue of furloughs comes to light only after the parcel tax passes?

At last we see what the teachers' union is really about.


Posted by Public School Supporter, a resident of another community
on May 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I don't think the announcement of furlough days was underhanded. They were negotiated last year (3 days) and we knew they were on the table for this year. I just think the teachers need to do more financially to maintain their credibility.


Posted by Janet, a resident of another community
on May 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I thought that the furloughs were on the table to get us to react. I considered the cost of day-care when I voted. I never thought that they would be seriously considered given the attitude towards measure E and the ballooning deficit. Last year, I could understand, but with all the data on their benefits posted all over the internet? So soon after a difficult tax -- no major permanent steps back. We are here to help, but they need to use some common sense and be a really big part of the solution.


Posted by Pleasenton Watch, a resident of another community
on May 12, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Pleasanton did not pass their Measure E. Read and see how they faced the same issues as LA, but now they are ready to get to work. We need to Pleasenton (PAUSD) them to see how they re-structure:

Web Link

The second strategic advantage for the opposition was PUSD themselves. In the months (and years) leading up to the vote, PUSD failed to demonstrate to fiscally concerned voters a credible pattern of behavior and foundation of trust necessary for voters to grant permission for a government entity to (once again) reach into our wallets and confiscate our hard earned wealth. Even the "in the name of the children" mantra was not strong enough to mitigate this deficiency on PUSD's part. I won't dredge up the numerous trust issues highlighted during the campaign, but the message PUSD sent to the voters by laying off teachers while allowing raises for teachers who "survived" spoke volumes on the credibility issue. This message directly contradicted the "crisis" atmosphere the supporters of E attempted to communicate.

In closing, there is nothing to celebrate here. If Measure E had won, it would only have (slightly) delayed the inevitable structural fiscal reforms necessary by PUSD. Now with Measure E defeated PUSD will need to get on with the business of seriously address the fiscal crisis now. The voters did not allow the can to be "kicked down the road", so it is time for PUSD seriously recognize the "elephant in the room."

Maybe PUSD will start by freezing the $15M in raises they had planned over the next 4 years. Maybe they will reject the recently negotiated union contract up for approval at next Tuesday's board meeting. In my opinion, this contract has negligible "concessions" from the teacher's union. Maybe now, the PUSD board will go public urging our state officials to take on meaningful education reform that does not automatically mean "raise taxes" on struggling Californian tax payers. To me, these are the type of actions that should be demanded by those who claim to be representing my two PUSD children.

I hope those on both sides of the Measure E campaign can now unite to encourage and support PUSD as they must now implement the difficult, but necessary, fiscal reforms required to adapt to our challenging economic situation.

David.


Posted by Fiscal, a resident of another community
on May 13, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Continuing parcel taxes only make to some Los Altans, provided that they are playing with someone else's money. These same (business leaders) people will lay-off employees and cut benefits when the money is coming out of their own pockets simply because a business unit is not making enough profit.

They are not about education. They are about getting a 'free' ride.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on May 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I think it is sad that we are complaining about teachers pay, they want to a 4 year college, maybe post college. Yet a CEO can make a huge amount of pay, we are back to pre bailout levels, i understand most people are cutting back, blaming a teacher will not help. I don't see alot of teachers living the high life, yes they work hard, yes the pensions might be a bit too much.


Posted by Fiscal, a resident of another community
on May 13, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Dear Garret, you know what is even sadder than teachers (now with millions of dollars in pensions) not getting paid as much as a CEO? As you suggest?

It is sadder to see that people like you think that teachers should make as much as CEOs. Please take the time to read the posts above. I doubt that it will change your thinking, because you are way out of touch with people who do have it hard.

Do you recall the college years? Many of us spent them in a lab. Day and night. Many Teachers had parties in the frat houses. They were not the best students (lowest performers). Now you want to compensate them with millions in salary to go with their millions in pensions and their summers off. How many teachers are we talking about compared to CEOs who make millions?

As I said above, the problem is that people like you will reach into other's peoples pockets to pay for excesses in union benefits under the cover of education. Pay for the millions in pensions out of your own pocket, without the tax payer,and see how quickley you start to think about the waste. My guess is that you are not a CEO, but a teacher tryng to use old lines that no-longer work.

Teachers: If you want a CEO's salary? No one is holding you back. Go and get a job as a CEO.


Posted by Measure e supporter, a resident of another community
on May 14, 2011 at 5:54 am

Garrett- this is not about blaming teachers; it's about fiscal realities. What can we cut that does the least harm to kids' educational experience? I know our district doesn't have much to cut administratively, we've reworked programs such as music, pe, art to cost less, and we've had furlough days. If the teachers' union can identify other cuts to make then please speak up! It's not helpful to hear about the unfairness of tenure reform, pension cuts and insurance increases. Yes it's not fair but neither are the state budget cuts. We passed measure e, we donate to the foundation and PTA. Teachers need to help out too.


Posted by Observer, a resident of another community
on May 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm

"Do you recall the college years? Many of us spent them in a lab. Day and night. Many Teachers had parties in the frat houses. They were not the best students (lowest performers)."

Wow. Quite a comment. Is this due to some verifiable statistical survey you have conducted over several years at a variety of colleges, or just based on a couple of students you knew in college? Or just some unspecified bias you have - that all teachers are not too bright (otherwise they would choose a "real" profession)?


Posted by Ted, a resident of another community
on May 14, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Well, in terms of academia, I happen to agree. Based on research done by MIT, the bottom of the barrel of college graduates has gone into teaching over the last 25 years. Prior to the 80s, teaching had some of the top students. Historically, the top 70% of college graduates enter math/science fields (engineering, medicine, accounting). Glad to search the reports and post them, if you'd like.

MIT also found that the math backgrounds severely lacked in hires from 1990 and beyond. They attributed part of the math and science decline to the weaker backgrounds of teachers entering the field as well as to the 'no child left behind' policies. After the 90s, if you knew math, you went into the fast track of technology or business. BCS addressed this issue by hiring multi-disciplined teachers with solid math backgrounds (no I am not from BCS). The Bill Gates Education Foundation is also collaborating the data. Engineering societies are lobbying the state to increase the math and science requirements of elementary school teachers.

From my experience, my college roommates struggled with very basic math requirements. They burned the mid-night oil completing work that would take me, or anyone in my field, 30 minutes to run through. They just didn't grasp the concepts clearly. I did worry that someday they would be needing Math and Science Aids to explain the material to their students. Now that I have children, I see similar weak math deficiencies in the teachers at my kids elementary schools. My school teachers in the 70s were much better qualified.

Today's teachers are bright people, just not engineers, doctors, accountants, or CEO's. They do make as much or more than engineers, while working less, and that is now cause of concern. If teachers want to be considered professionals in the like tracks of other solid degrees, they should consider non-union structures of employment. They seem to be stuck between wanting the protectionism of a 'trade', including tenure, but with the benefits and status of demanding careers. Other fields have adjusted in pay and benefits over the past decade. Some high acheivers would now go into teaching, but, because of tenure, we are locked in for 30 years with what could be, a poor performing teacher. This stifles education. Something has to give.


Posted by alex, a resident of another community
on May 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm

what is sad--we are now paying higher taxes for lower results. Charters work around the union issue and allow the school to step away from the standard state curiculum. California is 48th last I heard. Clearly something isnt working and now that I hear the teachers union is the largest/most powerful in the entire country, it isnt any wonder.

Sadly, the only way anyone is going to change things is by leaving the public system and forcing these districts to downsize. So we pay twice--taxes and tuition?


Posted by BCS Top 10, a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 15, 2011 at 9:47 pm

alex-
Please check the recently released API scores. BCS is ranked 9th in the state. Oak, the highest ranked LASD school comes in at 31st. The API scoring is based on STAR test results, which assess how well a school teaches the Standards. BCS has a standards based curriculum as do most charter schools in California.

The charter school system allows schools to be innovative and try new things. The biggest road block to new ideas is always school unions, both for certified ( teachers ) and classified ( school employees that do not hold teaching or administrative credentials) both these groups have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Also for everyone wanting to know more about charter schools try the California Charter School's Association:

Web Link


Posted by WTMB, a resident of another community
on May 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm

We received an update from LASD on the negotiations posted on the Town Crier (5 furlough days with itsy-bitsy motions on medical benefits and nothing more). A year from now, we will still be talking furloughs. Two years from now, another parcel.

Jim Grijalva apologizes for mis-communicating that the negotiations were completed. He didn't indicate completion at all, but he did reveal that business will be running as usual. Even with reduced enrollment of unsatified families, LASD will not change.

The State wants to extend the tax so that the schools will get more money. Isn't this much like a parcel tax? Fuzzy math that taxes me from one area instead of another does not make the tax go away, nor the excesses in pensions, nor does it improve education. We are simply spinning taxes. The sources of unjustified expenses (pensions, tenure, medical benefits, administrative salaries, fragmented school systems), simply have to face fiscal realities.

Please don't support the state tax extensions... Jerry Brown likely made a deal with the powerful teachers and prison guards to keep the 'Spinning-Taxes' going for the unions. The tax will halt the much needed systemic change.


Posted by Parent, a resident of another community
on May 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I agree that Jim Grijalva is a lost cause. He didn't "misspeak", he floated a possible position to see what the reaction was. Apparently he has since realized that 5 furlough days and a 5% increase in medical contributions by teachers doesn't cut it with the parent community who worked hard to get Measure E passed (umm...how many teachers and principals were there to help??) and contribute more and more to LAEF each year. Come to the table with pension/medical/and tenure reform Jim or step aside and let someone else take over the position.

As to state tax extensions, I can't agree with WTMB. Yes, the pensions and unions are a problem that need to be reformed and this may be the year it actually makes some progress. HOwever, without tax extensions our kids will feel some real pain- they shouldn't be sacrificed in the name of reform.


Posted by alex, a resident of another community
on May 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm

why isnt there more internal combustion within LASD? I seems like they are all quite happy with the status quo. Is it true that the Charter school is the only one asking questions and fighting higher taxes? As an outsider with no kids, I don't get it.


Posted by WTMB, a resident of another community
on May 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm

The message that 'Our kids will suffer' is what carried LASD to balloon deficits and multi-million dollar packages for administrators and teachers. This message still works for some parents and pushed Measure E through. Given that many communities are reaching their limit on the parcel tax, Senator Joe Simitian, D-PaloAlto, is introducing a bill that would make it possible to pass parcel taxes in CA with just 55%. Web Link. Let see, about 20-25% of the voters are seniors. This type of bill is a windfall for the Unions and would remove pressure to ever re-structure. It would open our wallets to LASD without a say. I think that the Union is looking for this 'bridge' to carry them through since the economy and a wiser Los Altos won't continue to.

Bill Gates published in the WSJ that highly qualified teachers can inspire and handle large classrooms. With bigger classrooms, weak teachers will bolt and make room for better qualified and more eager professionals. He recommends that we cut the funding and turn to charters. I am a believer in public education and intend to hold my ground to get it back where it belongs.

We have had some very good but some very poor teachers for my kids over the years. We wish that we could say that our kids have not suffered. The fact is, that they already are suffering.

By voting no to new taxes, the pressure to consolidate will force change. Turn-over of the weaker will happen. Private industry does this succesfully. Staying in the same path is not the solution. It will lead to some other political entity (J. Simitian) to introduce legislature that plays to Unions.


Posted by WTMB, a resident of another community
on May 17, 2011 at 11:21 am

Mercury News 5/14/11. Web Link

So IA readers might like to know that state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, is still trying to let Californians decide whether to lower the threshold for passing a parcel tax from two-thirds to 55 percent -- similar to the requirement for school bonds. His SCA-5 would place such a measure on the state ballot, and it's already passed one Senate committee on a partisan 6-3 vote.

Parcel Taxes are about to become hostige of the small majority. That is what the Unions and LASD want. A free pass to tax indefinetely without accountability. With most sensible people still expecting fairness and collaboration from the LASD Unions, prepare for education and costs to get much worse.


Posted by Let Fiscal out of the Lab, a resident of Waverly Park
on May 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Fiscal, Ted, Countrymen,

You obviously spent too much time in the lab while others learned social and communicative skills (They probably picked up these skills while attending all those non-lab focused frat parties).

Your argument seems to imply that to be a great teacher you must have obtained great grades. I had many "book-smart" teachers, including two who were Nobel Laureates, who were pathetic teachers. They had great theories, published many articles and books and wrote fabulous dissertations, but in the real world, they couldn't shop for groceries. I also had many teachers who probably didn't have great grades (or money) to get into Stanford's School of Education yet were outstanding teachers that really challenged me and made me think. They taught me that education is a never ending process.

For you (and others) to degrade the teaching profession because you think they make too much money is sad. I don't question your intelligence by choosing the profession that you have. Maybe you're the next coming of Albert Eistein, maybe your not. You have strenghts and weaknesses but you are no better than anyone else because you may have been a better student.

Just for kicks and giggles, I suggest that you spend a day or two in a classroom (maybe late in the day when the kids get squirelly and are tired) to see what it takes to teach today's student. You not only need to know the subject matter, but how to teach it effectively to a variety of kids who have a variety of issues.

I would surmise that when you went to school (at least if it was locally in the 70's and 80's) you were in a class of fairly homogenious students with similar family backgrounds. The kids in today's classroom come from a huge variety of backgrounds with differing support systems and issues.

While you are there, here are some things to grade yourself on:
How do you teach the kid who doesn't speak English? How do you get the kid to do his homework when he needs to watch his younger siblings most of the time? How do you get the parents to support the kid more when they aren't around (single parent household or both parents work)? How do you motivate a kid who would rather be hanging with his gang buddies than going to class (if you think there aren't local gangs I suggest you go over and talk to the MVPD gang task force).
On the flip side, how do you motivate the kid who is bored with school? How do you keep parents involved when they want to blame the teacher for the kid behaving poorly? How do you keep the kids positive and focused on school when the parents are going through a divorce? I forgot to mention that you might need to know how to teach the few students who are physical and /or mentally challenged.

Lastly, You'll want to think about the support that you receive from your student's parents. Yes I know, those are the ones like yourself who really think teachers are idiots. Can you feel the love? I'm sure it makes you excited to go to work each day!

Bitch all you want about the unions (and I agree with you about the pensions and medical coverage issues) but please stop implying that because you may (or may not) have got better grades in college and/or that your degree was in math or the sciences, somehow that makes you a better person. It doesn't!

FYI - Were you all aware that teachers don't get social security and should you switch mid-career to teaching that you are likely to lose the social security that you have built up. So yes, teachers get a pension (and one that needs to be reformed) but they don't get social security benefits. Those of you in "real jobs," because you excelled in math and sciences, have something that teachers don't get. Maybe teachers should complain about engineers and their windfall of social security benefits.

Lastly, Ted do you think research performed by MIT supporting the need for more training in math and the sciences (MIT's strengths) might require further scrutiny. Hummmm.

Note: I am not a teacher not do I play one on TV.


Posted by Observer, a resident of another community
on May 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm

"[teachers]do make as much or more than engineers, while working less, and that is now cause of concern." My husband is an engineer, and he makes about twice what the highest-paid teacher in LASD or MVWSD makes. And once he got his master's degree years ago, he didn't have to keep spending his summers taking classes so that he could get a raise. Plus over the years, he has had the opportunity to purchase stock options in several companies. Not enough to hit the jackpot and retire early, but definitely a boost to our retirement savings. Teachers don't get to buy stock in the public schools. Yes, it makes a difference.


Posted by To Let Fiscal Out of the Lab, a resident of another community
on May 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm

To Fiscal Out of Whatever Lab,

It is unfortunate that some of the posts upset you so much. It is evident that you have a blind opinion of the teaching profession. Your choice. Your opinion is merely emotional, as expected of a non-science major. Even good teachers are frustrated by the fact that poor performers get the same pay increases that they do. Are you one of the poor performing teachers or are you married to one?

Excellent teachers have been let go in recent years in support of poor performing teachers that are protected by tenure. We don't have the best of the best teachers. We can't have the best performers, with a unionized system. We have average teachers that need re-training to cover what they missed or could not get through in college.

Take a look at the credentials of the teachers at BCS. They will blow you away.

As for the pay. Open your wallets and pay them as much as you want. Easy to speak about paying them more when you are playing with other people's money. Your post exudes union entitlement.


Posted by More Parcel Taxes?, a resident of another community
on May 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Just noting something. See KD's post above. In fact, please read posts above. Recent arguments (using poor language) are redundant and not moving forward. Observer, you need to compare teacher salaries to non-manager engineers. Not to our Management Centered Los Altos Residents. No disrespect intended to the teachers, but, our Los Altos Engineering salaries need to be compared to those of the administration.

My mind is spinning. I can't see how Simitian can get this bill to pass. San Jose will never accept rolling parcel taxes nor would any other mid-range income city. But, with a 55% bar and senior exemption, that may be do-able. It is awful to think that it may happen. What happened to other good values of an 'equal education' across California?

This is just crazy. Other than the teachers posting here, I can't see how anyone can be happy about this. Why is our government not able to live within its means?


Posted by Ted, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 10:08 am

To Not a Teacher,

You have listed the reality of teaching. We teach humans not robots. That is understood. LASD partly teaches the lower demographic and has challenges that BCS does not face. BCS is needed to reach the high-achievers that you cannot reach because you are consumed by the demands of a lower social class.

The realities of other professions: They include on-going layoffs of the lower 10%, impossible deadlines, cut-backs, changes of management, multi-culture conflicts in communication, outsourcing, and lower pay for increased expectations. The personnel issues of adults are too intense to list. You have to gain the cooperation of people who are going through divorce, self-imposed financial pressures, foreclosures, affairs, child-illnesses, mental illnesses, alcoholism, adult cancer, etc. Would you like to give this a try? We work with human adults 50 to 60 hrs per week. We can't walk away after 3PM or get a break for the summer to prepare for the coming year. And no, the average engineering salary in the valley is $96,000 (WSJ '11). No-one is dreaming of getting rich in the hardware industry any longer. To thank us for a job well done, we get to keep our jobs.

Most professionals understand the scope of the profession that they choose. The point I was making is that we cannot afford employment entitlements in our schools. The education for our children is negatively impacted. MIT and other organizations are seeing the effects on our kids and are looking to raise the bar back –up for teachers. The Unions have a lock-down on improvement. If you are a high performing teacher, you have nothing to lose. For instance, if after 5 years as a teacher you still need basic math re-training, then you entered the wrong profession. There are others who are qualified to take your place and willing to do it for reasonable compensation. You may be happier doing something else. You are the teacher, not the student. The focus needs to be on the student. This is nothing against the teachers. We live with this mindset everyday in private industry.

Fiscal realities are forcing a review of what has happened to our public education.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 18, 2011 at 11:01 am

"We live with this mindset everyday in private industry."

And the private industry mindset is the cause of many ills in our society as well. For example, it has driven down the salaries of US-born engineers so only highly-qualified H1-B visa types would apply.

I'm not necessarily for unions, but maybe you made the wrong career choice instead. Los Altos schools are still among the best in the state, so I think you are barking up the wrong tree. Take your argument and go to Oakland or out into the central valley and be prepared for what you find.


Posted by Observer, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 11:12 am

Obersever, You are so out touch with common people that nothing will help change your mind. Being a poor teacher does not excuse YOU from wanting to ride on the back of the tax-payer.

The Los Altos Schools are not the best, BCS is the best. LASD schools are among the most costly. It is time to give the new wave of well educated teachers the opportunity to teach or children.

Observer, LEAVE your job to those who can do it better!!!


Posted by More Parcel Taxes?, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 11:21 am

Teachers, why are your crying? You got your $790 parcel tax. What more do you want?

This thread is more for people who want to improve education and stop the bleeding of costs. Your rants don't contribute.

Any ideas on what can be done to prevent future Parce Taxes?

The charter school ideas are good, but they will fight for funds as BCS has been. Will the LASD take steps to curb spending? Can LAEF help send the message?


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 18, 2011 at 11:39 am

Uh, I'm not a teacher, and as I mentioned, I am really not for all the protections that Unions provide. And I am certainly not for parcel taxes. LASD teachers should contribute more to the health care and benefits. Rating teachers on performance is a great idea, but it is hard to measure based on the different students a teacher gets each year. Nonetheless, a minimal merit and performance system should be implemented to weed out poor teachers. Technically, administrators do have more power than many believe. There are ways to document and apply positive pressure to poor teachers to the point where they will respond or quit (i.e., make-their-life-hell approach to management--I've seen it done), but it takes a strong administration which is lacking in Los Altos.

What I am against is the pettiness of a community, particularly parents, that will attack teachers as a whole incessantly, and many times so they can get just their way for their child/student/themself at the expense of all others.


Posted by More Parcel Taxes?, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Observer, Point taken.

I don't see people sending blanket or petty messages to all teachers. Blanket messages are sent to LASD and the Unions. The teachers are members of the Union. Comparisons in pay, benefits, and performance are made to aid in the understanding that times have changed.

If we hadn't been taxed $790, I doubt that any public criticism would be made of LASD. Expect that along with increased costs, teachers will be further scrutinized. The higher the costs, the more of a say and expectations that parents will have. While you wish to stand up for the teachers, the teachers have the protection of the Union and nothing a parent says about them will have any effect on their employment or benefits. Please use your energy to point to solutions to the problem of escalating costs. The teachers are well protected in all areas by the Unions.

To Others,
We live within our means and expect other to do the same.

The feds, the state, the city, the high school, and the elementary schools want to increase our taxes. The school system has to change. What can we do? Tenure is holding back attrition and preventing lower paying teachers from entering the field. In 10-15 years, the pensions will outweigh the operating budgets. Benefits (PPOs) for teachers and their families cost them less than our HMOs. LASD is hinting at such tiny movements.

I used to think that the economy (lower CA revenue) would be enough to cause change. It is not. The unions put Jerry Brown in office. Parcel taxes without a major tax-payer majority are the next target for the Unions. The bill has already cleared the first vote of the senate. Will it be brought to voters or can our politicians lower the Parcel Tax Threshold to 55% on their own?


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm

"Expect that along with increased costs, teachers will be further scrutinized."

You're joking, right? You're mixing apples and oranges: a fiscal crisis and a problem with poor quality teachers. The superintendent and the board are %100 responsible for things getting out of hand, not the teachers. There are two sides to bargaining with a union. Where has the other side been, i.e., the administration and the board? As far as I can tell they are all camped out on the same field. I haven't heard of the teachers striking yet, particularly when the administration and board keep rolling over. Have you? How much pressure has the superintendent (former teacher) applied to the unions? He's an appeaser, plain and simple. Get rid of the guy and hire some one to tackle the issue not kick it down the road again.

"Please use your energy to point to solutions to the problem of escalating costs."

The tax passed, so apparently there is not problem in the minds of many, myself excluded. A super-majority of voters obviously found that $790 a year for great schools in not a hec of a lot in the long run. A strong enough argument against taxes was obviously not made or heard. Maybe LAEF will see a decline in income, maybe not. However, LASD and the board will no doubt be coming back to tax more. Maybe the tide will turn then. I will not support another tax increase, but others may. The administration and board need to address budget problems and take the union head-on. Maybe they don't feel it's necessary at this point. Those who make this an issue only at voting or taxing time need to reconsider your strategy or you'll lose time and again. You're no better than the school district for not seeing this coming. Voters who disagree should take action and run for school board.


Posted by Doug, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Charters are the way of the future. LASD needs to pull charters for all of its schools not just one. I don't understand the resistance. Clearly, Charters are doing it better across the State and Country.


Posted by Charter Fan, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm

The three C's -- why everyone should support charter schools:

Choice -- Why have a one size fits all curriculum?
Cost -- BCS gets about $7000 in tax dollars. LASD -- $12,000
Competition -- Eventually LASD will give up on trying to get rid of BCS and start trying
to improve its own program.


Posted by Red Herring, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Ted
you state-

"You have listed the reality of teaching. We teach humans not robots. That is understood. LASD partly teaches the lower demographic and has challenges that BCS does not face. BCS is needed to reach the high-achievers that you cannot reach because you are consumed by the demands of a lower social class."

LASD does not have a significant amount of students to say that it partly teaches to the lower demographic -- The total number of students on free or reduced lunch is 3%. In fact LASD has one the highest SES standings in the state.

Here are some numbers for comparison:
Palo Alto and Cupertino - 6% of students on free or reduced lunch.
Mountain View -- 83% ( that seems a little high -- can't be too many kids at Huff or Bubb on this program.)
County Average - 38%
State Average - 55%

Bullis Charter School has kids from all over the district including kids who live in apartments. It is not filled with the cream of LASD. It's a lottery -- many apply --- some are lucky enough to get in. There isn't a GATE program at BCS. Bullis does a great job -- because it has terrific, smart, well qualified teachers -- and no union to stand in their way.


Posted by Ted, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 7:29 pm

To Red Herring,

I was following the line of thinking of someone ranting about how tough it is for the teachers of LASD. My appology. I am aware of the effor that it must take to acheive the success of BCS. It is not easy. It is what LASD needs to strive for, but if they think that they are already 'as good as it gets', they are not going to improve.

Thanks for posting the data.


Posted by More Parcel Taxes?, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Observer,

I think that many of us are getting impatient with your convoluted views --where you create argument where is none. The Unions represent the Teachers who collect excellent medical, pension, and tenure. I point the finger at the administration for poor management. As for running for the school board. READ ABOVE. That comment was covered in April. Put your energy on finding new alternatives. Will you run for school board? Why even say the obvious then. Give us a break.

Everyone,

The fiscal crisis is the major issue. Poor teachers are a major issue. The union is a major issue. The limited curriculum is a major issue. The poor administration is a major issue. They are all a part of why LASD needs to change.

The point at hand is that we need a system much like BCS. It will address most of the issues listed above. Other than starting another charter, can we add to the BCS system? They can't fit enough students as it is. I checked the sites posted above but the effort appears to be significant. Adding to what is already in place may be the fastest path. What would it take?


Posted by beth s, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I have tried for three years to get into BCS. There is a waiting list for every class. Someone hurry up and get going especially before my son gets that dreaded 5th grade teacher we all avoid.


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 10:39 pm

For an existing school/district to convert to a Charter a majority of the current certified staff (teachers) must vote to approve the conversion. Charter schools do not have to be union free and there are only 2 or 3 schools that have successfully converted to a charter without unionized certified staff. There is no incentive for them. If we cannot get the teachers to approve a contract with better health incentives by a simple majority, you are very unlikely to get them to move a non-unionized charter school.
Charter Schools are not always the panacea that some think.
Bullis Charter School was a newly created charter so it avoided this problem. LASD would not be able to replace its existing schools with charter one or become a charter district without teacher buy in.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 19, 2011 at 6:23 am

This is life folks. You can't always get what you want. Sometimes you get bad teachers, bad university professors, bad bosses, bad neighbors. Deal with it. Live and learn. Work with people, not against.


Posted by LA Resident, a resident of another community
on May 19, 2011 at 9:08 am

[Portion removed. Please stick to the topic.]
Unions = "Attorneys" for the LASD Teachers. The teacher UNIONS are draining the education funds to support their excessive compensation packages. They are pulling for parcel taxes because they can no longer sustain their system with the funds provided by the tax-payer from the state. About 40% of the state budget comes to education. Are we mad at the teachers for their excessive packages or the parcel taxes? Should we be? It is not worth being mad at them anymore than LASD should be mad at the parents from BCS for suing them. Just be mad at the attorneys that represent BCS and not at BCS. That is your logic, isn't it?

The structure of the tenured education system is no longer needed in this day and age. Not in elementary school. Teacher [Portion removed], the time has come for you to be compensated for your efforts and be accountable for your performance (or lack of it). Live and learn. Work for your pay not against it. It is poor teachers like you that pull down the good teachers to your level and mess up the system for the rest. Top acheivers would never want to be piled up into a quadrant with poor performers and give up merit or real recognition.

Based on your posts, you are the kind that will coast on the Union's Multi-million Dollar Pension Boat.


Posted by Janie, a resident of another community
on May 19, 2011 at 9:26 am

To Beth,

My child has an excellent teacher now but she didn't last year. I am dreading 5th and half the 6th grade teachers. The new algebra teacher that rotates schools is in over her head. The principals can't get rid of bad teachers. We tried to have one removed 8 year ago. Every year, parents complain. That teacher is still there. She has been getting pay raises along with the rest. Some of the other poor teachers got moved to other schools within the district but the teachers had to agree.

The good seasoned teachers that have retired in recent years speak openly about the drain that poor teachers bring on them. No one is allowed to be a super star because it makes the rest look bad. Good teachers have to keep their efforts quiet so as to not affect the status quo. That is not the way it is in College or Private industry.

Convincing the teachers to switch to a Charter will be very difficult to do. I will do some general research how other communities have achieved this and if I find anything useful, I will report back.


Posted by Beth, a resident of another community
on May 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Dear Observer,

We can do better than that. And now that the district has 2.5 million more, so can they. It is time to stop protecting bad teachers at the expense of a life lesson for our kids. Just deal with it or learning to get along is not ok when we are dealing with any kid's classroom experience for a full year, maybe more. If Los Altos is such a leader in education, why cant we also lead in tenure and pension reform? The time has come and charters have found the loophole to work around this. Of course teachers aren't going to choose to give up collective bargaining but if there are no jobs for them because the district has the demand to open a second charter -- or third and fourth -- then they loose their jobs and either get hired by the charter or move to a district still willing to "just deal with it."


Posted by Start a charter, a resident of another community
on May 19, 2011 at 9:15 pm

HI-
You do not need to start a charter with the teachers at your present school -- It would be better if you didn't. You just need to write up the charter -- and get someone to approve it. It will not be LASD -- but you can get the County to approve it. Then once you have the charter and students the district must provide reasonably equivalent facilities for any charter students that are in district residents.

They of course will use every trick in the book to try and get rid of your school -- just as they have done with BCS --- but the law will be on your side.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 20, 2011 at 8:43 am

LASD is one of the top performing school districts in the state with top API scores. Los Altos has a very high standard of living and salary and property tax base. These things alone would suggest that the taxpayer is getting their money's worth. Even the "poor" teachers must be doing something right. The reasons behind the parcel tax are ultimately about poor management at the district. When heads start to roll at the district office and on the board, and new leadership and board members put efforts underway to curb some union demands to align them more or less with the standard across the state, I will then take the call for charters more seriously. Right now I don't see the public support for one. Few are going to risk screwing up a top performing district for the sake of charters.

Los Altans are no doubt accustomed to always getting their way, either through hard work or inheritance or both. If you want to establish charter schools, go into East Palo Alto and make a change. Devote your talents and energy to change to the less fortunate. Attack the unions there. Root out the "poor" teachers there. Plenty of your tax dollars are going to sustain that broken system and the poverty it perpetuates. To attract teachers there, higher salaries are required. It's doubtful that will happen. And the job security provided by unions is one of the few perks that keep the good teachers in place. So it will be tough.

I am all for rooting out "poor" teachers. I have seen it done before in Santa Clara, all within the law and in compliance with union contracts. But it take real leadership. The kind Los Altos does not have. LASD is a boutique district. Administrators and principals have become soft, mostly I imagine due to the incessant demands of Los Altos parents demanding special consideration for their unique child. It's a culture of appeasement and special interest groups. Do you think the teachers and unions would be treated any differently by them? It's the equivalent of spoiling a child with everything they want and ask for if you can afford it. Well now they can't afford it but the spoiled children (on both sides) remain screaming for more.


Posted by cc, a resident of another community
on May 20, 2011 at 9:22 am

Gotta weigh in...Bullis Charter proves the value of a Charter in any community. The notion that they should only be in under performing school districts or in poor economic conditions is denying the child that is fortunate enough to live in Los Altos or the Hills, the opportunity to have the best that public education has to offer. I am also curious why LASD parents have not gotten fed up with the LASD constant threats of layoffs, program termination, threats of redistricting, school commutes, closed libraries...we at BCS have the worst facilities and are still growing and sadly turning away 13 kids for every spot.

If the community wants more charters, come to a BCS Board meeting and beg them to open another school...


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 20, 2011 at 9:38 am


"denying the child that is fortunate enough to live in Los Altos or the Hills, the opportunity to have the best that public education has to offer"

Oh please, LASD schools are the best in public education that California has to offer. These are tax dollars that pay for these excellent schools, not private funds. They might be mismanaged, but they deliver. Look them up. Web Link


Posted by More Parcel Taxes?, a resident of another community
on May 20, 2011 at 10:23 am

CC,

The community is frustrated with LASD financial miss-management, the poor performing teachers, the lock down on administrative leadership, the violin assemble for the teachers on-going quest for more tax-payer money for their pensions.

The affluent families in my neighborhood mean well by supporting the LASD schools. Some of these families also have a relaxed outlook to education and are deeply entrenched into the school community. Knowing how their own kids struggle, I am not sure that they could handle the BCS curriculum. But, even them, didn't emerge socially unscathed from measure E.

The K-8 education system is weak in many areas. The API scores reflect what has been tested (No child ..) and do not reflect the weakness of the curriculum. We have been through many attempts in trying to get into BCS. As a local school, our neighborhood should get priority. Why can't we be given the choice to attend BCS? It is a public school after-all.

I have reached the point where I do not want to give another dime to a system that protects weak instruction at the expense of a whole year of negative educational impact on any child. The 'We have to protect our good teachers, 'Keep LASD Strong' message of Measure E made my stomach turn. Let go of the weak teachers, consolidate your administration, and you will have enough money to sustain your good teachers and provide better education by bringing in fresh hires with multi-disciplined back-grounds.

The whole premise by LASD that we have to pay into this poorly run educational scheme merely because we have the money is arrogant and narrow-sighted. It is not focused on education. LASD Teachers don't have the right to forcibly shave off their perceived share of our hard earned income merely because they are lucky enough to teach in our district.


Posted by WTMB, a resident of another community
on May 20, 2011 at 11:06 am

Can some please post the date of the next BCS Board Meeting?

I will send an e-mail to people in my neighborhood.


Posted by Another observer, a resident of another community
on May 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

@Red Herring: Mountain View Whisman had somewhere in the vicinity of 50% of students on free and reduced lunch, not 83%. There are a couple of other elementary districts in the state called "Mountain View," perhaps the 83% figure belonged to one of them.


Posted by Red Herring, a resident of another community
on May 20, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Thanks -- I thought that number seemed incorrect.


Posted by Wow, a resident of another community
on May 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm

No wonder LASD is a weird place - just read the 217 comments


Posted by cc, a resident of another community
on May 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Observer...Is there any other LASD school besides BCS with even two kids vying for every spot? No. The district is ranked in the top because it doesn't contain any under-performing schools, this is true. But this year's ranking, which frankly is not and should not be the measure of the program--but for lack of a better measuring stick, we will use--the highest LASD school aside from BCS (#10) is Oak at #31 and they fall off from there. When given a choice, who wouldn't pick the best? We did for our kids after the good fortune of a low lottery number. (The lottery is what is really sad--Utopia is where every kid who wanted what the Charter School offers got it at their neighborhood school!)

As for taxpayers dollars, don't even get me started. If they were made available to each public school student in the district equally, then BCS parents wouldn't have to shell out the taxes plus the money to keep BCS flourishing...In fact, there would be plenty to go around.

The next LASD Board meeting is May 23 at 7:00pm. The next Bullis Charter Board Meeting is not posted yet but keep an eye on the BCS website for date and agenda information.

Believe me...the kool aid at the Charter school tastes just as good as what they have been feeding you at LASD. And it is even better for you! Come on over....


Posted by Parent on the side-lines, a resident of another community
on May 20, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Someone asked why parents at LASD are not up in arms. Here is one view based on my pool of parents:

Many parents in the inner school circle of the PTA place value on socialization and sports. Academics come third. Look at recent profiles published on some of the LASD super moms and you get an idea. These parents are the first to jump up if homework that is deemed too time-consuming is required. 10 years ago, Kindergartners had a small amount of daily home-work. Today, they have none. Upper grades fail in too many levels to review. The district is aware of these flaws in the curriculum but they wash their hands and point to the state.

A good majority of LASD parents want to believe that their child is an over-achiever. The only way for them to get this manipulated validation is to keep the bar low and not let anyone get too far ahead. They totally buy into sustaining the 'poor teachers' who struggle with math because their own kids are lagging behind. Talk to them about a stronger to curriculum and watch their nerves go up as they have to consider that their child won't be able to keep up. Their kids probably could excel, once given better teachers and a better curriculum, but the parents don't want to take the chance and the school doesn't want to bother.

The mentality of LASD is such that it will not make room for academic competition within the district because it reveals the inferiority of its system. Some parents, just can't face the truth about themselves, their children, or the so called 'perfect' school district. The school board and adminstration know this and create a party with these parents. All three entities put their head in the sand and tell each other how well they are all doing. These are the kind that post hateful comments toward BCS, anyone who complained about Measure E, and anyone who seeks a better education.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 21, 2011 at 7:50 am

I agree. Finally an alternative perspective that I feel better mirrors the situation on the ground. There are so many factors at play here.


Posted by More Parcel Taxes?, a resident of another community
on May 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Agree. Most of my friends fit in this circle.

The single prevalent factor is Entitlement. All three segments of LASD described by 'Parent on the side-lines', feel entitled to recognition that they do not work for and want the tax payer to foot their bill.

The ones who need a Charter School of their own are these LASD Segments.

That way they can fund whatever fantasy they want and leave public education to those who live within their means, support teacher recognition, and want a thriving curriculum.


Posted by More Facts, a resident of another community
on May 23, 2011 at 11:20 am

HThere seem to be quite a few comments about how terrific LASD schools are, and what a great job they are doing. In a high SES district like LASD it's often difficult to determine if high test scores are due to district programs and great teaching or parents and students. In LASD it's the parents and the students – not district programs and teachers. How do I know this? The Similar Schools Ranking.

Each California public school is given a base API score and a statewide rank of 1-10.
All LASD schools get a 10 in the statewide rank. This means that they are in the top 10 percent of all schools statewide. However the similar schools ranking is a completely different story:
Similar Schools
Almond Elementary
Statewide Rank 10 Similar Schools 9

Covington Elementary
Statewide Rank 10 Similar Schools 10

Gardner Bullis Elementary
Statewide Rank 10 Similar Schools 8

Loyola Elementary
Statewide Rank 10 Similar Schools 8

Oak Avenue Elementary
Statewide Rank 10 Similar Schools 9

Santa Rita Elementary
Statewide Rank 10 Similar Schools 9

Springer Elementary
Statewide Rank 10 Similar Schools 8

Middle Schools
Ardis G. Egan Junior High
Statewide Rank 10 Similar Schools 10

Georgina P. Blach Junior High
Statewide Rank 10 Similar Schools9

This means that only two schools – Egan and Covington fall in the top ranking statewide—both these schools have recently shifted some students who traditionally do not score well on the STAR test to other school sites – giving both schools a one time boost in their API scores. All of the other schools are not that hot. If they were truly excellent they would have a 10 in the Similar Schools Ranking.

As an example Loyola, Covington, Garden Bullis and Bullis Charter are all in the same group. To find out how schools rank in each group I went to the state website and looked up Loyola's comparison group. I cut and pasted the data on a spread sheet. Bullis Charter was the top scoring school in the group., but all schools in their group have a base API of over 900. A school in the top 10 gets a 10. Loyola gets an 8 – but really they luck out --- there are actually 25 schools with a higher API than Loyola. Comparison groups tend to favor the school. For example if this was the actual group for Gardner Bullis, Gardner would have 40 schools scoring higher and it would get a six.

Schools that do well statewide -- do well in the rankings -- Bullis Charter scored in the top 10 of all elementary schools in the state -- and it gets a 10 in the Similar Schools ranking.

More Info can be found at: Web Link

Objections? Gate magnet schools, school of choice, etc. Someone will come up them, however they don't hold water.

Here is how the state calculates the Similar Schools Rankings:

To determine the similar schools rank for a school, a comparison group of 100 similar schools of the same type is formed for that school, based on similar demographic characteristics. he school's similar schools rank is the decile where that school's Base API falls compared with the Base APIs of the 100 other similar schools in the comparison group.
The PSAA specifies the demographic characteristics to include in similar schools rank calculations:
Pupil mobility
Pupil ethnicity (eight variables)
Pupil socioeconomic status (two variables)
Percentage of teachers who are fully credentialed (not available for the 2010 similar schools ranks)
Percentage of teachers who hold emergency credentials (not available for the 2010 similar schools ranks)
Percentage of pupils who are English learners (ELs)
Average class size per grade level (not available for the 2010 similar schools ranks)
Whether the school operates a multitrack year-round educational program
Percentage of grade span enrollments (grades two, three to five, six, seven to eight, and nine to eleven)
Percentage of students in gifted and talented education program
Percentage of students with disabilities (SWDs)
Percentage of reclassified fluent-English-proficient (RFEP) students
Percentage of migrant education students


Posted by Mrs. Crabapple, a resident of another community
on May 23, 2011 at 12:03 pm

The value of homework for kindergartners is dubious at best. There's little, if any, research to support assigning homework to kinders in order to increase academic achievement.

Developmentally, 5-year-olds have more important things to be doing, like playing, getting exercise and spending time with their families.

Web Link


Posted by To Mrs Crabapple, a resident of another community
on May 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Mrs Crabapple,

I guess you missed the point that all the other grades have deeper issues to list?

But, thanks for bringing that up. Welcome. If the Kinder student is following the NCLB curriculum, and didn't do any basic homework, they will fit right into 1st grade at LASD. Children that do read and do basic math at home, and whose teachers (or parents) monitor their progress, will have to sit around in first grade waiting for all the other LASD kids not to be left behind. I am an expert at this. I am with LASD.

First graders at BCS are doing the work of first graders at LASD. Without breaking a sweat!


Posted by Parent from the side-lines, a resident of another community
on May 23, 2011 at 1:14 pm

To Mrs. Crabapple,

The Kindergartners at BCS are at par with 1st graders from LASD.

Separately, I don't see any problem with the curriculum at LASD, provided that they didn't lock down the aspiring high-achievers. With so much emphasis on socialization and sports, academics are not getting the right focus.

Academic achievement is attributed to extended programs, days/hours of instruction, flexible curriculum, teacher qualifications, and parenting, among other variables.

LASD already caters to the no child left behind 'test'. You got the tax money and are keeping some poor teacher.

No more furloughs, please!


Posted by To Mrs Crabapple, a resident of another community
on May 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Mrs Crabapple,

I guess you missed the point that all the other grades have deeper issues to list?

But, thanks for bringing that up. Welcome. If the Kinder student is following the NCLB curriculum, and didn't do any basic homework, they will fit right into 1st grade at LASD. Children that do read and do basic math at home, and whose teachers (or parents) monitor their progress, will have to sit around in first grade waiting for all the other LASD kids not to be left behind. I am an expert at this. I am with LASD.

Kinders (and not First graders) at BCS are doing the work of first graders at LASD. Without breaking a sweat!

Sorry for the mix-up.


Posted by Parent from the Side-lines, a resident of another community
on May 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm

One last thought.

Given the fact that all three entities I mentioned oppose change, I can't see how they will not block any system that tries to one up-them. The wars with BCS will continue along with parcel taxes.

It is not just emotional. Millions are at stake for the administration. The parent leadership is in the minority. I estimate that over 50% of the parents want something better, but speaking up at a board meeting is social suicide.

The only outlet is to go private or win the lottery at BCS.


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