Posted by Bubb Mom, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on May 14, 2012 at 6:46 pm
Read my post. There are no teachers named in this article. Even the journalists in training at the Voice have been trained to blow past the little people and get quotes from the big wigs. I'll say it again. Teachers just don't count for anything anymore. It's great however that their names are buried on some website somewhere, but even on the official ballot mailer from the county, no teachers are listed.
Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 14, 2012 at 9:11 pm
Trustee Walters (and Nick! och) are a bit mixed up on Prop 39 Committees. These are audit after-the-fact groups that include no district personnel. 7-11 Committees are an entriely different statute - and can optionally be used when they are not mandatory. They do include usually a district administrator and a teacher representative. 7-11 hold neighborhood meetings, Bond Oversight do not have that function. 7-11 consider the use and reuse of "surplus" leased property, Bond Oversight does not.
Walter's is right, you can't mix up the two! The Board can form a 7-11 at any time, it does not have to wait for a bond to pass. www.cde.ca.gov/ls/fa/sf/schoolclose.asp
Posted by district insider, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm
If you were a teacher or a principal and wanted to stay in good standing with the Superintendent, would you decline when invited to add your name to the list of supporters?
Ask the teachers what they thought about closing Slater.
Ask the teachers what they think about the elimination of Class Size Reduction.
Ask the teachers what they think about just about anything, and you will get a very polite non-reply.
I asked my child's science teacher, at Open House, what s/he thought about the bond measure and building new science labs, and I kid you not, the teacher had never heard of the bond measure and had never been asked for input about new science classrooms.
Just saying that narrows down the identity of a teacher whom I would prefer to not identify to about 7 or 8 teachers. Teachers in this district are not asked and are not free to share their opinions about district decisions.
Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 15, 2012 at 6:47 am
@ Insider. There is a lot of truth to your comments - but the Facilities Committee did hold 13 closed-to-the-public meetings with the staff at the school sites (and District Office and maintenance). I read these, they have many generic complaints and praises for each facility, and some very specific insights. The very poor quality of the official reports leave MUCH to be desired - no list of attendees (who was there), no prioritization, conflicting desires [like fence campus, "keep it open"]
These reports were kindly and efficiently made available to me through an Open Records Act request. Although Superintendent Goldman mentioned they were going to be posted to the web, they were not. Not a particularly big deal [just the difference between GREAT management, and OK management]. You really have to be a "whistle blower" like me to be willing to read over a total of a thousand pages of documents!
There have never been public (Brown Act) meetings at each campus with the input of neighbors, PTAs and other interested peoples. The Site Plans and "wish lists" are not displayed at each school. The "mushroom theory of management" unfortunately prevails. My vote is NO on June Bond Measure G.
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on May 15, 2012 at 10:34 am
Measure G is exactly the kind of investment we need to grow our economy. Austerity in Europe has brought economies there to their knees. If we don't stimulate growth here we may end up like Japan and have a real fiscal nightmare supporting the baby boomers.
Posted by Tax Payer, a resident of the Jackson Park neighborhood, on May 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm
James, tell that to Gov. Moon Beam who is already talking about austerity measures and higher taxes. Vote No unless he starts negotiating down with the unions and addresses the skyrocketing pension liability in this state, not to mention rescinding the Dream Act!
Posted by Sunshine on process, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on May 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm
Who is underwriting the costs of all these expensive mailers I receive every day? Where do I find the list of all the donors to the Yes on G campaign? The district itself cannot spend any money on the campaign, so who is? Bill Gould, the architect who will retire on his income from the over-produced Site plans? The bond underwriters who have probably already been told they were hired?
Read more about the kickbacks the bond sellers provide to get these passed:
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on May 15, 2012 at 3:32 pm
You really should listen to the Krugman interview I posted above. The fiscal contraction at the state and local level is killing the economy. It's the exact opposite of what we should be doing. Investing in Education and Infrasture like Measure G is a high productivity investment that will help the economy grow long term.
Posted by Christine Case-Lo, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on May 15, 2012 at 5:26 pm
I and the Special Education PTA support the proposed Measure G because the facility enhancements for disabled and special needs populations are desperately needed. We hope that parent input is taken into account once the bond measure passes to design a long-term plan for special education facilities and dealing with the impact of renovations on this population so adversely affected by change.
Posted by Karen, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 15, 2012 at 5:32 pm
I really don't have faith in this district admin. nor the board of trustees. After the whole Ghysels fiasco and how the board backed him, I do not trust their judgement. Walters said the board will not ask for more tax money if this bond runs out:
"That is not part of the plans," she said. "We have no intention of going back to the community any time in the near future."
but she can't guarantee what future board members might do. And how do you define "near future"?
I feel duped having supported the last bond measure and now they are asking for more on top of that one. My spouse is out of work right now and I am earning very low wages - we can't afford anymore taxes.
The campus just finished remodeling not that long ago. I can understand how high schools need science labs, but am not convinced it is a necessity in middle schools in order to get a better education.
I support and applaud MVWSD watchdogs like Steve Nelson and Allan Keith for bringing issues to the public's attention. Many community members just don't have the time to hang out at meetings and comb through the tons of paperwork, but they still care. It has always been the MO of this district to try to slip things past the community (usually during summers). I think Steve and Allan bring up very valid points about prioritizing what this money will be spent on and how. I'm not convinced this amount of money is required to keep our schools going. And I am skeptical about projections that MVWSD makes about student attendance in the future. Look at what happened with Slater and they were positive that the student population would continue to dwindle.
I"m voting NO on this measure in June. (And by the way, I wasn't polled.)
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on May 15, 2012 at 8:17 pm
I already voted for Measure G because it's pro-growth and I'll also vote for the state tax increases because the austerity that would result without them would be so deflationary that California might default.
Posted by Observer, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 15, 2012 at 8:21 pm
How many businesses and how much wealth will leave the state due to tax increases you are selling as pro-growth? What reforms do you demand in return for tax dollars? How is this not the same tax and spend mindset that got us to this point in the first place without such things as pension reform?
Until government at all levels is willing to fix the wasted spending, why give them more money??? They'll argue it's only used for buildings, but if they weren't paying out so many six figure pensions, they'd have plenty of money.
Posted by district insider, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 16, 2012 at 1:19 am
to Christine the special ed mom - yes, handicapped accessible drinking fountains and other features would be a good use of construction funds. problem is the district refuses to specify just what on their lengthy wish list they are going to do with the money! "trust us, we'll use your money for the kids" could very well turn into "the district office is small and 1950's era design and we need to scrape and rebuild cushy offices for our numerous administrators who are paid 6 figures each year" There are no promises of what they will do with your and my money. And it won't cost the superintendents, who don't live in MV, a cent out of their own pocket.
Karen and Nick - thank you for speaking up. I too am insulted by Ms. Walter's dismissive reply on this board that Measure G is opposed by very few. I've seen too many board meetings where parents and community members spoke at the podium on an issue, the board members listened and nodded politely, then voted unanimously to do the opposite.
I'd prefer to keep my $300 per year, thank you very much, and add it to my kids' college saving fund than hand it over to this school board that is widely regarded as seriously lacking in integrity and transparency.
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on May 16, 2012 at 7:46 am
Ok, so lets take the other side, if you vote no on the governement spending and tax increases, and the state has to cut more government jobs and cuts people pensions, that will reduce GDP even more than it has already, and revenues will fall to the point where we can't pay our public dept. Just see what Austerism is doing in Europe now.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 16, 2012 at 8:12 am
James -- are you serious??? By your logic, any tax increase would boost GDP? So we should raise taxes to 100% to get the maximum possible GDP?
5 years ago, all the pro-tax+spend types pointed to Europe as the model that America should follow, as a utopian socialist democracy. Now, they point to Europe as exactly what we should avoid for being too austere. Isn't it more likely that Europe (other than Germany) got into this mess because they spent too much and didn't offer incentives to work? And California is doing the same?
If you work out the pension math, it's simply impossible (at any tax rate) to offer these perks. The guy making a $500k/year pension will cost tax payers over $30M. Think about how many other great jobs we could offer with that money and get better services?
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on May 16, 2012 at 9:06 am
I know it sounds counter intuitive, I'm not an economist, but from what I understand from Bloomberg state and local government spending is a significant portion of the GDP. Cutting government spending now is just going to make things worse. Tax revenues that would not otherwise be spent on goods and services would raise GDP. If the private sector stepped up spending to take the place of government spending, that would be great, but it's not happenning.
Posted by Another Steve, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on May 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm
The best reason to do this bond now is that construction costs will likely be higher, the longer you wait. As James has pointed out, infrastructure spending provides jobs and usually other businesses also increase employment. The facilities plan is intended to be a shopping list, not a bill of materials for a construction contract. If we followed Mr. Nelson's logic of doing more detailed planning with pre-bond money, then stop for a period of several months for an election, then finish design, then get state approval, then solicit bids, costs might be drastically different in a growing economy. The roots of this plan go back several years, but in the Great Recession, construction costs have not escalated much. In the "old days" a school bond could build facilities that last as long as the bond repayment. In this era an area of technology combined with changing rules for special ed and ADA, our district has done a good job with facilities updated a decade ago in two separate bond programs.
Posted by Kman, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on May 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm
I'll vote no, on any tax that only goes on home owners. This is why Prop 13 was put into place, because every gov. agency wants to tax the hell out of home owners to the point where it's not worth owning a home. If your on a fixed income, this will hurt. This is why prop13 was put into place, so that the not so affluent, wont be taxed out of there homes. That is why the old that have lived here for the longest pay a lot less.
The schools take the majority of all the taxes paid. Why is that, I think some serious looking into this is needed. The waste on this bottomless pit is incredible. How come private schools don't need such great amount of money to make ends meet. Something is seriously wrong with our schools. The solution is not to throw more money at this problem, but to understand what the problem is and then correct it.
Posted by Another Steve, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on May 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm
I agree it adds up. How do we agree on what we do not need. Many people complain about some of the things the federal government spends money on. But most federal spending is either Military, SocSec/Medicare, or funds granted to local and state governments. If those agencies did not have the federal money, they would need to raise our local taxes for it, or figure out what not to do. School boards have local control, but most funding is state controlled. Local bonds are locally controlled. If you don't have kids in school, quality schools are still a huge factor in property values.
Posted by James Chu, a resident of another community, on May 16, 2012 at 9:04 pm
We should not vote on something that is not planned or specific. They will be more oportunities to promote a new planned preposition G and then we would really see where our money will be used . I am agree with Keith and Nellson they have very good points we should vote no on measure G until we got more specifics. Thanks .
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm
"This is why Prop 13 was put into place, because every gov. agency wants to tax the hell out of home owners to the point where it's not worth owning a home."
You've got it backwards, I'd argue that much of what has caused problems for California's education system is directly or indirectly due to Prop 13.
Consider that in a "normal" state without a Prop 13 cap on property taxes, taxes from locally assessed homes fund local schools. As it stands with Prop 13, those taxes are restricted to a 2% annual increase, barely above the inflation rate at times, and therefore does not account for any increases due to growth of student population, technology improvements, and capital replacement of buildings.
To add insult to injury, those taxes collected by Prop 13 are sent to Sacramento which then parses out funding to each locality as it sees fit, so local homeowners do not necessarily benefit from their local tax dollars.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to compare the challenges and content that children nowadays need to know at ever younger ages, than kids who grew up 30 years ago. Funds need to be made available to prepare this generation and future generations to support the Silicon Valley economy we have now, not the farm/cow pasture economy we had 30 years ago.
The only continuous benefit of Prop 13 has been for those who voted for it 30 years ago, some of which have wisely decided to keep ownership of their homes even when they don't live in them anymore, and rent them out, as opposed to make them available to another homeowner who can contribute more to the state in reassessed property taxes.
The question becomes, is this stated benefit, worth the sacrifices EVERYONE ELSE makes, with regards to our schools, and our new economy, especially in the Bay Area.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm
To the few of you in support of this measure -- you're missing the point: it's not that we shouldn't invest in education -- quite the contrary. The problem is that your money is being wasted; we spend more and more on schools, and yet test scores are flat or declining.
Why? The money is not actually helping the students. The only way to solve this is to force government to make difficult decisions to make better use of money, namely:
1) Fix pensions -- getting $100k+/year for life is NOT sustainable and is draining resources from our kids into the pockets of retired administrators who aren't helping anyone
2) Fix unions so we can better motivate and reward the best teachers. Check out this article in NY -- paying $100M/year to teachers who aren't teaching, but who can't be fired due to corrupt union rules:
Posted by Observer, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm
Good point Nick and good link. It's funny how in NYC the mayor is actively involved in improving schools, but in Mountain View the mayor and city council do as much as possible to separate the city's business from the schools.
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on May 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm
Those are disfunctional inner city problems we don't have here, in my experience the teachers here are high performing, and the administrators are very much on top of almost every child's progress. They are using a data driven approach advocated by the Obama administration and used by the high achieving Charter Schools. MVWSD effectively has it's own Charter School in the Stevenson PACT program.
What we are talking about here is providing the infrastructure for the next 20+ years of education in mountain view.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm
James -- do you work for the schools, or some other family member?
The NY issues aren't limited to the "inner city" -- what percentage of teachers have been fired for low performance in Mountain View in the last year? Compare that to engineers or other professions? Most teachers are great -- but the unions prevent them from being rewarded, and protect the small percentage that are terrible.
And you're not addressing the pension issue -- the teacher retirement system is underfunded by $65B, because of inflated pension promises. Until that gets fixed, your dollars are just being ultimately shifted to cover pensions rather than forcing government to face the problem. Here's a good CNN article today on California's situation:
VOTE NO until the unions get out of education, and then (and only then) can we raise revenues that will actually benefit students rather than retired administrators and bad teachers protected by corrupt unions.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm
"Those are disfunctional inner city problems we don't have here, in my experience the teachers here are high performing, and the administrators are very much on top of almost every child's progress. They are using a data driven approach advocated by the Obama administration and used by the high achieving Charter Schools. MVWSD effectively has it's own Charter School in the Stevenson PACT program.
What we are talking about here is providing the infrastructure for the next 20+ years of education in mountain view."
James is correct.
Don't mix up local education performance with the general state of education in California. A quick look at the local school API scores show that most public schools in Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, and Palo Alto are top rated in the state. A quick look at the trend of these schools over the past few years show IMPROVEMENT in API scores.
If anything, our school administrators should be commended for not only maintaining quality instruction, but improving it, in the face of budget cuts, and hamstrung with property tax funds caused by Prop 13.
There probably are inefficiencies in school administration that could yield additional savings, but the point is that in any organization, there always are opportunities for improvement, and yes, they should continue to pursue those opportunities. But its a straw-man argument, to use that as an excuse to withhold additional funding.
The data we have already clearly shows we have not only a functional school system, but one that performs well, given the circumstances its presented.
Its time to turn that pointed finger a 180 degrees and ask yourself: what are you prepared to do to support your local schools. The danger here is that we take for granted the performance we've been getting for our dollars, and allow our high API scores to slide because we were busy blaming "poor administration", and not focusing on the core problem: Prop 13.
Posted by kman, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on May 17, 2012 at 4:55 pm
Hardin, here are some scenarios for you on prop 13.
You just got layed off, you own a house and your saving are meager at best. Here comes tax time and you can barely afford the taxes on your house at just 2%. What if it was 5% or 10% what would you do then, you would have to sell. And who would buy it with the rate on it so high?
Another example, your parents owns a house and are getting by barely on a fixed income. Because schools are throwing money out the window, they decide to increase your parents taxes again from 2.5% to 5%. Will your parents be able to still live there? NO.
Prop 13 is there for a very good reason. It's not home owners fault that the incredible amount that goes to the schools is wasted.
Bottom line is the schools have an unlimited budget that no one seems to be in control of.
If we want credibility in our schools, then the people that send there children there should support the schools. That way they will make sure the money is spent right.
Posted by MV Mama, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 17, 2012 at 5:42 pm
Kman, private schools cost quite a bit more than what public schools spend per pupil. Maybe with the exception of Catholic schools, but only because those are supported by a church as well.
Private schools also do not have to provide services for English language learning students (a HUGE percentage in MVWSD) or students with learning disabilities, attention problems, autism, sensory disorders, or other special needs. The public schools serve all of those students. It isn't like when I was a kid in Palo Alto in the 70s/80s when kids were put in "special ed".
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on May 17, 2012 at 9:53 pm
"James -- do you work for the schools, or some other family member?"
I don't work for the district or have relatives who work for the district. I do have three kids in Elementary here, and I've volunteered in our school for 5 years. As a parent I take a very keen interest in quality education so I have researched what goes on at our school and what is happenning with education reform and the whole charter school thing. I find no fault in the great job our school is doing. I also take great interest in the economy and business activity since I hope to retire sooner than later after working as and engineeer here for 30 years. As for the unions, I come from a blue collar labor background so I support worker rights. My brother works in the entertainment industry which is heavily unionized and is thriving.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 17, 2012 at 10:08 pm
"Hardin, here are some scenarios for you on prop 13...."
Ok, so let's entertain the idea that Prop 13 should be used as a tool for supporting low income families and seniors:
1. First, most low income families don't own homes,especially here in the valley, so your penetration into helping low income families will be limited. Let's face it, the low income families that REALLY need help are the ones that DON"T have a home.
Couple that with the fact that it should not be assumed that ALL families who benefit from Prop 13 are low income. In fact, it would be interesting to see what percentage of homeowners who purchased homes 30 years ago are low income, and whether or not they even live in these original homes. The homes to the right and left of me are not owner occupied, they're rented. Both have been passed down to the children of the original homeowners, who don't live locally and have no interest in the local schools. Going forward, the contingent of original homeowners living in their homes will continue to decrease, its inevitable.
2. Second, allowing people to stay in homes they can barely afford, even with an artificial cap on property taxes is neither productive, nor does it offer them a way of improving their lot in life. Its sort of like giving someone an IV, when what they really need is an operation to cure them of the disease.
So in terms of a social justice program, Prop 13 is a pretty unwieldy and inefficient tool, that doesn't target the folks who need it most, and that doesn't offer solutions, just more of the same.
Compare that with the enormous opportunity cost in lost dollars for education, the cumulative effect that has had over the last 30 years to industry and state institutions in California, and I'd say we have not gotten good value for the dollars sacrificed for this limited benefit to a select population, that is getting smaller every year.
If Prop's 13 purpose was to help those who can least afford to 30 years ago, its doing so less every year.
"Proceeds of the bonds could not be used for teacher and administrator
salaries or other school operating expenses. The District would conduct
performance and financial audits, and appoint an independent citizens'
oversight committee to ensure bond proceeds are spent as promised
Does education in California need improvement? Especially at the administrative levels and regarding pension reform? Sure. But the reasons I've read in this thread for not voting for this Measure range from being accusatory, bizarre, or even completely false. Let's hope cooler, more discerning heads prevail.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 18, 2012 at 8:44 am
Hardin: you're naive. Of course they'll word the measure to make it sound more attractive by saying it can't be used for pensions/salaries, and that it's used to remove asbestos (which is a lie -- inspectors haven't found asbestos).
But ultimately it goes to the same pool of money. Sure, they earmark parts of it, but it just means they'll use the rest of the money for benefits/salaries that otherwise SHOULD be going to improving infrastructure. If they weren't paying $100k+ pensions, they'd have money for infrastructure and wouldn't need to beg for more.
It's like asking for a raise at your job, and saying you'll use the money to feed your starving children -- while using the rest of your money to buy a new TV.
Posted by Budget Watcher, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on May 18, 2012 at 8:58 am
@ Nick: You are wrong. By law, school districts cannot put money from a bond into the general fund. It has to be kept separate and not used for anything except buildings and building improvements. Please learn about school finance before making assumptions.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 18, 2012 at 9:10 am
Budget Watcher -- yes, but if they have special funds for infrastructure, then they don't need to use the general fund for it, right? So then they have more free money in the general fund to use on non-infrastructure items.
It's like giving food stamps to someone with an income who's on crack -- they just use their income to buy the crack, and use the food stamps to buy the food they otherwise would have to buy with income. Separate "budgets", but doesn't mean they don't affect each other.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm
"Hardin: you're naive. Of course they'll word the measure to make it sound more attractive by saying it can't be used for pensions/salaries, and that it's used to remove asbestos (which is a lie -- inspectors haven't found asbestos)."
I probably am somewhat naive, in that I tend to takes things at face value, at least initially. Nor do I trouble myself with conspiracy theories or what happens in Area 51. But I also try to stay informed by gauging the credibility of the sources of information I receive, before I take a position on something.
In this case, consider the source of the information I posted:
Its the impartial analysis of Measure G, as provided by the County of Santa Clara. Its not propaganda, err, I mean, "information" provided by the Yes on Measure G campaign, or any other source that has a defining interest in this measure one way or the other.
Now, let's compare the quality of that information with the assertions you have been making in this thread...
Other than innuendo, conspiracy theories, and smoking gun inferences, you haven't made a direct connection between Measure G, that funds local school projects (explicitly not salaries or pensions) directly with local property taxes, and the union/pension machine that you feel is Big Brother in this state. Mind you, I may not disagree with your opinion of the relative helpfulness of unions in California.
So there you have it, yes I may be naive, but I'm also discerning enough to know the difference between an unsubstantiated opinion, and facts, and I'm hoping that most people who are evaluating Measure G do the same, regardless of how they vote.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm
Just to put Measure G, and the relative amount of personal sacrifice that is being asked of homeowners, here is something to think about:
The average price of a single family home in California in 1970 (unadjusted dollars) was (hold your breath), $23,000. Let's be worst case and say that a home in Mountain View at the time was twice that much, $50,000. With Prop 13's 2% maximum cap on assessed property value, this home would now have an assessed value of $100,000.
As California's property tax is about 1.25% of appraised value, the homeowner in 1970 would have paid $625 annually in 1970, and about $1250 now.
Fast forward to today, where the average home price in Mountain View is $1M dollars. The property taxes would be $12,500 annually.
Measure G adds another $30 for every $100,000 of assessed value, so the homeowner who bought their house in 1970 at $50,000 and who now pays about $1,250 annually in property taxes would see their tax bill go up by a whopping......$30.
I would stipulate that if those homeowners who are gnashing their teeth about the additional $30 hardship Measure G will impose on their fixed income budgets, that they should be losing more sleep over how they are going to pay for their 30 year old shake roof, 30 year old galvanized plumbing, or even the next impending sewer backup, before they worry about Measure G's impacts on their bottom line.
Homeownership has been and will always be a cost/maintenance burden. Prop 13 does not address this problem, it just hides it, delays it.
Posted by kman, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on May 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm
1)Basically your saying who gives a damn if you can't afford your taxes on your home because for whatever the reason maybe you can't afford to pay it. So your none productive and shouldn't have a home to begin with. Really nice logic there, NOT.
You're just basing your logic on a few homes around you that are being rented out. Sounds like someone is jealous. That maybe the case here for a few, but prop13 encompass the whole state, where the majority of the low income and retires live. So what are you suggesting, that we raise the taxes on all home owners? From 2% to maybe 5%?
Lets make all the low income people and retires leave the state or leave there homes for some apartment lifestyle, is that what you want?
2)It's how money is spent that is the important thing. As you can see here, NY is no where near the top in how smart there kids are, compared to spending the most on their kids. Utah, the lowest spent has why more smarter kids then both CA and almost as close to NY. We spend 273,000 per classroom filled with 30 kids. Where is that money going?
This just goes to prove my point, that you can throw more and more money at the problem, but that will only postpones the problem till next year.
According to MV Mama, "English language learning students (a HUGE percentage in MVWSD" and special needs kids are the main reason public schools can not compete with private schools. MV Mama, why is this the case now and not back in the 70/80?
"To promote more efficient spending of the money I believe that some type of competition needs to be injected into the system as monopolies are synonymous with waste and a lack of response to the consumer (in this case students and parents). " from website above.
Fact: By far, the largest expenditure is salaries and benefits. These are getting more costly as the district has given raises even during the recession, and most importantly, as pension contributions are going up due to absurdly generous pension packages causing shortfalls in the pension program.
Fact: As a result, there's not enough money left to cover the infrastructure upgrades they want to do.
Therefore, instead of reducing expenditures on salaries and benefits (which are unsustainable anyway) to free up funds for infrastructure, the district is begging for even more money from overburdened tax payers.
Posted by Jill, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on May 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm
Here is the verbiage in the flyer that came to us regarding Measure G:
￼￼￼"All students deserve the same high-quality education regardless of which school or district they attend. Measure G would help ensure that our Mountain View students are at least as well prepared as Los Altos students when they all attend the same high schools."
This kind of statement really disturbs me. You can't have it both ways. For years this district has been saying they are just as good as Los Altos schools and that our students perform just as well as LASD students when they all come together at high school. But now they are saying, this money will ensure that students are EQUAL. I feel this is a scare tactic.
I would much rather see bond money going directly to improve the quality of our student's education and not to an unprioritized wish list for facility improvements.. I"m not convinced it will be spent wisely. What is to keep a new board of trustees to ask for more money down the road to finish expensive unfinished projects??
Not that long ago, MVWSD remodeled the schools in the district. I don't live in Los Altos and don't expect to pay the taxes they pay and, of course, I don't expect that our schools will be state of the art either. If I could afford it, I would move to Los Altos as many families have. But I can't and I can't afford to pay their taxes here in MV.
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on May 18, 2012 at 7:19 pm
I hear the same old remarks about teachers pay, benefits, admin, all sorts of spending. Maybe the list should go into detail further details but then again I know of place that has spent 100,000 dollars on a hotel room, per room. If the owners are getting the rates to repay the improvement on this, why do we charge a rate for use of desk.
Now on the renters don't pay their share, I rent for 700 dollars a month, the building has 30 units each one paying about that, 700 times 30 that will get you the monthly total. For the yearly total you have times 12. I think owners are under Prop 13?
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 19, 2012 at 8:09 am
"2)It's how money is spent that is the important thing. As you can see here, NY is no where near the top in how smart there kids are, compared to spending the most on their kids. Utah, the lowest spent has why more smarter kids then both CA and almost as close to NY. We spend 273,000 per classroom filled with 30 kids. Where is that money going?"
So your source for reliable, unbiased information on education reform is from a personal blog titled, "Togetrichisglorious"?
Also, you've jumped to conclusions in stating that additional educational funding does not improve student performance.
There are many factors that go into student performance, money for schools being only one of them. Large class sizes, varied economic backgrounds, larger percentage of English language learners, will all influence what resources will be required by the school system to achieve similar student performance results than other states who don't have these issues to the same degree as California.
To assume that all the other variables remain constant and similar in all the states, and focus solely on per capita spending per student suggests you have a rather simplistic view of how education works.
My point in bringing up per capita spending in California was not to make a blanket statement that: more money equals better students, but to dispell your assertion that,
"schools have an unlimited budget that no one seems to be in control of"
Based on the chart I provided and that you listed as well, there are approximately 25 states that spend more than California on a per capita basis, so there's no grounds to even suggest that California is being irresponsibly lavish in its education spending.
Find data that can support THAT, and then we have something to talk about.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 19, 2012 at 8:23 am
"Fact: By far, the largest expenditure is salaries and benefits."
...And the sky is blue....
There is nothing revolutionary or revealing about this "fact". In fact(pun intended), salaries and benefits are the largest expenditure in virtually ANY and EVERY organization that employs humans, from non-profits to Fortune 500 companies.
People resources are expensive, that's not news, nor does it, in itself, support reducing teacher salaries.
The only industries that even strive to eliminate salaries and benefits in order to not make it the single biggest expense on their bottom line are 3rd world sweatshops and fully automated datacenters...are you advocating to do that to education?
In a profession where there is no substitute for transferring knowledge from adult to child other than a teacher, teachers will remain the predominant way of educating our children. They SHOULD be compensated well for this function.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 19, 2012 at 9:14 am
Hardin: once again, you miss the point. The issue is not that salaries shouldn't be the majority of the budget, but that the increased salaries and particularly ridiculous pensions have crowded out infrastructure spending -- so of course salaries/pensions are directly linked to Measure G even if they're separate budget items (I'd be curious to hear your perspective on the sustainability and fairness of $100k+ pensions for an increasing number of administrators, and soon teachers that cost millions per employee).
I agree that teachers should be well compensated, but there needs to be changes:
1) Fewer administrators so the money is focused more on the teachers
2) Fix union regulations so bad teachers (a small percentage but disastrous for students) can be fired outright
3) Move to a 401k system instead of guaranteed pensions that future generations will be responsible for, which isn't fair or sustainable
Do you disagree with any of those 3 suggestions? Once those are fixed, we should consider revenue increases -- until then, it's wasted money.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 19, 2012 at 9:43 am
The changes you seek will not be addressed by Measure G one way or the other. Union regulations and the pension system are not in the pervue of the Mountain View School District. These are controlled by the statewide teachers union.
By overlaying 2 distinct issues that may indirectly relate to one another, Measure G infrastructure spending with local funds, and the pension and healthcare issues that the state as whole is dealing with, you are wrongly thinking that saying "No" to one will affect the other. There is no mechanism in place to do that.
Posted by John, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on May 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm
Thank goodness for prop 13.
Higher taxes does not equate to more funding.
What does California with the tax money? California has the highest statewide sales tax rate and one of the highest income tax rates in the country. However the state is 47th in the nation on per-pupil spending.
Your killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
We are overtaxed and under served and these endless taxes bonds parcel taxes etc are reaching a tipping point.
No way this bloated bond measure would pass with a 2/3's vote.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 21, 2012 at 10:21 am
"Yet, you Hardin, have no problem dredging up Prop 13 whenever you caa!
Practice what you preach."
Amen to that.
However, the necessity for bond measures like Measure G is primarily because of Prop 13. There is a direct relationship between the two. The property tax calculations I provided above, clearly show that under normal circumstances, we are losing approximately 1000% in property taxes, for those properties purchased 30 years ago because their assessed property values are being artificially capped at Prop 13's rate.
Measure G is a direct response, indeed a necessary response, because of Prop 13's devastating effects to California's education system and state infrastructure.
Bottom line, either Prop 13 is reformed, or bond measures like Measure G will continue to be brought up for public consideration, and most likely at an increasing rate, as some have already noticed.
Need more proof of direct causation between education and Prop 13?
1. Education is funded by property taxes (not sales taxes and not income taxes, which go into the general fund).
2. Prop 13 limits property taxes. (up to 1000% for those homes purchased in 1970).
There's no conspiracy here, no education-gate, no Knights of the Templar that makes education performance in California suffer. It was us, the people, that decided to vote ourselves a property tax break, 30 years ago.
Posted by kman, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on May 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm
Hardin, once again your basing your assumptions on wrong logic. Your trying to state that all 30 yr old house are no longer paying there fair share. Well most of the properties that where brought 30yrs ago have been sold, except for a few that grandma and grandpa still live in. So your logic is baseless. Thank God for prop 13 otherwise all these taxes would be placed on home owners shoulders.
So basically what you said up above is to throw as much money at schools as possible, no matter how they get the money.
Also you say that the special ed type classes are what is causing all the money issues? Could that be the illegal aliens that do not speak the language and need the extra help? Is this what it means to be a sanctuary city?
Posted by mr_b, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on May 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm
Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood
-- "And you're not addressing the pension issue -- the teacher retirement system is underfunded by $65B, because of inflated pension promises. Until that gets fixed, your dollars are just being ultimately shifted to cover pensions rather than forcing government to face the problem."
Are you against Social Security as well? That's taxpayer funded, and teachers don't get social security - they only get the pension and anything else they personally fund. Would you rather take away the pension from those who have been underpaid for years and give them fewer benefits in retirement too? That's pretty cold. Last I heard, Social Security wasn't funded that well either.
-- "Fewer administrators so the money is focused more on the teachers"
This doesn't guarantee that money would be spent any better than it is now. It could actually increase waste through oversights, pet projects, lawsuits, and the like. Our federal and state governments are shining examples of this kind of fewer-people-managing-more-resources waste. The more complicated we the voters, the legislators, and judges make the system, the more administrators it will take to navigate it all successfully. A few less administrators won't directly save that much money anyway.
-- "Fix union regulations so bad teachers (a small percentage but disastrous for students) can be fired outright"
The "bad teacher" argument is most often a misunderstood attack on teacher tenure. First off, district/union agreements aren't "regulations" they are negotiated contracts. Tenure through unions only guarantees a right of due process, it does not guarantee employment. This guarantee is generally regarded as appropriate protection for teachers (and the district) from internal politics and unscrupulous parents who incorrectly see school districts as extensions of government's deep pockets. Without acts of gross negligence, determining what defines "bad teacher" is also regarded as a difficult problem. Student performance isn't linked lock-step to teacher ability; factors outside the teacher's control play a large part in a student's success.
-- "Move to a 401k system instead of guaranteed pensions that future generations will be responsible for, which isn't fair or sustainable"
Many teachers already supplement their Social Security-less retirement by contributing to 403b programs (virtual-equivalents of 401ks). Placing all of their eggs in an uncertain bucket like a 401k is irresponsible and will not attract people to the profession.
Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood
-- "Union regulations and the pension system are not in the pervue of the Mountain View School District."
Just to clarify, each district negotiates directly with their district's teacher union. While there is a statewide teachers union, it is not involved in these negotiations. Pension contribution levels, pay levels, health care ... all get negotiated locally. I gather you're saying that it's unlikely that Mountain View-Whisman would be the starting place for an abandonment of generally standard benefits.
John, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood
-- "California has the highest statewide sales tax rate"
What about New Jersey? What about Washington state? Connecticut?
kman, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood
"Thank God for prop 13 otherwise all these taxes would be placed on home owners shoulders."
Why should the year a property was purchased affect it's contribution to local community infrastructure and services? When a property was last purchased certainly doesn't affect its market value that much, and its market value is helped by good neighborhood schools. Prop 13 had some good ideas but was very, very poorly implemented. This just sounds like not wanting to contribute.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 21, 2012 at 3:31 pm
"Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood
-- "Union regulations and the pension system are not in the pervue of the Mountain View School District."
Just to clarify, each district negotiates directly with their district's teacher union. While there is a statewide teachers union, it is not involved in these negotiations. Pension contribution levels, pay levels, health care ... all get negotiated locally. I gather you're saying that it's unlikely that Mountain View-Whisman would be the starting place for an abandonment of generally standard benefits."
Thanks for the clarification. You are correct, my point is that its highly unlikely that a movement to begin a tidal shift in pension benefits for teachers is unlikely to begin with the rejection of Measure G. It is however, guaranteed that the effect would be to deprive the school district of much needed funds for infrastructure improvement and safety.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 21, 2012 at 7:41 pm
Hardin: you're basically saying the same thing about Prop 13 that many of us are saying about the out of control pensions -- Measure G is only required because of issues like those. So why do you focus on Prop 13 and not pensions?
Prop 13 is smaller in effect than the pensions (pension shortfalls now exceed the total increased revenue potential from overturning Prop 13). Besides, the state and local governments have more than enough revenue; California has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
The problem with Prop 13 is of fairness (new homebuyers pay much more than older ones, regardless of income level or property value), but we don't need to overturn it for the revenue. If it's overturned, then we should cut the overall property tax rate to keep tax revenue flat.
While you see administrators and teachers collecting $100k+/year in pensions, VOTE NO ON MORE TAXES.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 22, 2012 at 8:24 am
"Hardin: you're basically saying the same thing about Prop 13 that many of us are saying about the out of control pensions -- Measure G is only required because of issues like those. So why do you focus on Prop 13 and not pensions?"
I think pension reform is a good thing. The current liabilities and commitments are unsustainable. There needs to be reform, though I believe that just like Prop 13, gradual changes over time will be the best way for people to adjust to a new equilibrium.
However, I don't believe that pension reform alone will fix the education funding problem, neither in breadth, nor soon enough, and most importantly, I don't see a plan that starts with pension reform and ends with better schools. You are trying to rob Peter (teachers) to pay Paul(students), and assume that all that needs to be done is to rearrange the slices of the existing pie, in order to make things work.
Here is the assumption that is underlying all the arguments I've read that support Prop 13 in its current state: that there is enough money for Education as is, its a management issue, not a need issue.
But by the very fact that Prop 13 has limited property taxes by at most 2%, close to the inflation rate, the size of property tax funding for Education in inflation adjusted, real dollars, hasn't changed all that much when compared to 1970...THE PIE HAS NOT CHANGED FOR 30 YEARS.
Contrast that with the growth in population, the increase demands in curriculum, the aging of existing buildings, and the increase in need for technology improvements to enhance the education experience...THE PIE NEEDS TO GET BIGGER.
Those who continue to insist otherwise are still living in the 70's...before the change of our economy to knowledge-based, technology driven industries, before explosive growth in population.
They continue to view California as simply a state in the union, but fail to realize we are now the 8th largest economy in the world, and that we have micro-economic centers like Silicon Valley that are the envy of the world. Education is one the keys to maintain leadership and prosperity. It is the new oil for the new economy.
The evidence of Prop 13’s effects on education are self-evident and ill-refutable throughout the state. There is no question about this.
Posted by Old Steve, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on May 23, 2012 at 8:49 am
Except that the State Constitution requires that every student be offered a public education (and it goes on). If the public schools suffer what kind of educated work force will pay taxes to support future retirees.
California is the 8th largest economy, but our public education system is headed for 3rd World status. Measure G can probably wait, but the needs will increase as the buildings age. Construction costs will go up as the economy recovers. Perceived quality of schools is the number one factor in property values.
If you want schools to run better, get Assemblyman Fong to lead a rewrite of State Education code. School districts use many resources in ed code compliance efforts, most of which have no bearing on student success, but are required by law.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 23, 2012 at 9:14 am
Another point of clarification, I don't advocate REPEAL of Prop 13, but REFORM of Prop 13. My home has tripled in value since I purchased it, and it would be a serious hardship if I had to pay all the additional property taxes at once, and I would guess that it would be even harsher for those who bought a home earlier than I did.
The way forward would be to implement gradual changes to the law, such as incrementally increasing the 2% cap on assessments, making a distinction between personal property and commercial property (different rules), and allowances to those homeowners who do indeed meet a predetermine low income threshold or senior citizen status.
My guess is that such a process would also allow for a possible easing of the percentage of taxes we pay on assessed value (currently 1.25%), as well as easing of home prices in general, so that a new, more stable and reasonable equilibrium is achieved, with regard to home prices and property taxes.
The same general rules should apply to Pension Reform, in that gradual changes will achieve the best outcomes.
In fact, the only real difference between Pension Reform and Prop 13 Reform is who ends up paying, which should be ill-relevant in determining whether its the right thing to do for ALL Californians and for the future of this state.
Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 23, 2012 at 10:25 am
This thread is getting off topic (but my $0.02). Because of the odd way Prop 13 handles commercial property, it is sometimes possible for commercial property to not be reassessed when it changes hands. A 'sluth' could check the county assessed value property tax records to see if the Google properties "purchased" recently are actually now assessed at current market value. This then would allow the operation budget of education districts, the city and the county to reap the full benefit (in their operations budgets). It would also allow any Bond to also reap the full benefit of current market value. [but this is peripherial to the question of if spending is prudent and if citizen/taxpayer/community input is lacking or GREAT).
Posted by John, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on May 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm
Again, we pay more taxrs than any state in the country and we get nothing back but pensions salaries and complaining.
Connecticut has a 6.35% sales tax, with no additional local taxes.
Washington has a 6.5% statewide sales tax.
The state of New Jersey's sales and use tax rate is 7%.
California has a sales tax of 8.25%, which can total up to 9.75% with local sales tax included.
$200 MILLION! It will take $400 million to pay it back! God forbid that our children should suffer in 50 year old classrooms! Lrt alonr administration struggling in such old buildings. Geez, where does it end!
Then the state has two tax increases on the ballot in November!
we already pay over $7500 in property taxes! Where does it all go? Income taxes, sales taxes, fees, penalties, on and on and on ....
I especially enjoyed the last sentence of the article:
"The measure allows the school district to "look at the facilities and get them modernized for the next 20 to 30 years," Spaay said."
Just 12 years later they are asking for more funding.
My point is that I do not trust this particular district to hold to their promise that they won't come back and ask for more property taxes again when they run out of funds due to poor planning. I felt the literature I received in the mail about Measure G was extremely misleading by stating the year in which the schools were built and implying no renovations had been done since the 1940s-1950s.
For all the above reasons I will vote NO on Measure G.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 8:41 am
"we already pay over $7500 in property taxes! Where does it all go? Income taxes, sales taxes, fees, penalties, on and on and on ...."
The reason why measures like Measure G are still needed, even when you pay $7500 in property taxes is that there are many homes and commercial properties that pay much less than you do, solely because they purchased before you did and are reaping geometrically greater rewards from Prop 13's tax cap than you are.
Perhaps your taxes have remained flat, but many homes have changed hands (and gone way up in value), so newer buyers are paying much more.
>Looks like you got it exactly opposite: Taxes have remained flat, >and everything else has changed around it.
Half true -- tax revenue has grown substantially, but spending has grown at an even faster pace.
The District revenue now includes nearly $10k/student/year -- so $250k/year for a classroom of 25 students. How can that possibly not be enough to provide a great education? Spend half of it on the teacher (including health care and retirement), and you still have $125k/year for supplies, books, and building maintenance.
Hardin, you should continue to challenge Prop 13 -- it is unfair that newer buyers are paying 3X what you pay -- but you still shouldn't vote for Measure G.
If nothing else, take issue with how misleading the Measure is worded -- highlighting asbestos as the first item (when inspectors haven't highlighted it as an issue)? Trying to imply that buildings haven't been updated at all in 60 years? That's irresponsible.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm
"Perhaps your taxes have remained flat, but many homes have changed hands (and gone way up in value), so newer buyers are paying much more."
Bingo! You are absolutely correct...
And under what logic does this justify one home owner paying orders of magnitude more in property taxes than another, in the case where the market values of these homes are equivalent, but the only difference between the two is WHEN they were purchased?
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm
>Bingo! You are absolutely correct...
>And under what logic does this justify one home owner paying orders of >magnitude more in property taxes than another, in the case where the >market values of these homes are equivalent, but the only difference >between the two is WHEN they were purchased?
I completely agree with you here -- Prop 13 needs to be reformed to fix this.
My point is:
1) It's not true that tax revenue hasn't gone up under Prop 13 -- there's a lot more total revenue (arguably the same or more as without Prop 13, since Prop 13 inflates house values due to reduced inventory)
2) As a result, there's still plenty of revenue for the schools (nearly $10k/student/year!)
So vote NO on Measure G, but still reform Prop 13 and pensions.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm
"Half true -- tax revenue has grown substantially, but spending has grown at an even faster pace.
The District revenue now includes nearly $10k/student/year -- so $250k/year for a classroom of 25 students. How can that possibly not be enough to provide a great education? Spend half of it on the teacher (including health care and retirement), and you still have $125k/year for supplies, books, and building maintenance."
Also half true. Property tax revenue, WHEN ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION, has remained relatively flat. Ironically, this is because of Prop 13, which limits the assessed property values by 2% annually, right around the average inflation rate. Therefore, education funding in REAL dollars has remained relatively unchanged for the last 30 years.
You are correct though that Education spending has increased, due to population growth, increased curriculum requirements, additional technology based tools, and an aging infrastructure. If all we're going to supply students now is the same stuff we supplied them in 1970, I'd say they will be ill-prepared for the jobs of the 21st century.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm
"If nothing else, take issue with how misleading the Measure is worded -- highlighting asbestos as the first item (when inspectors haven't highlighted it as an issue)? Trying to imply that buildings haven't been updated at all in 60 years? That's irresponsible."
Asbestos was used in construction up until 1989. Public building construction requires testing for asbestos, for any construction completed before that year.
Inspectors are not responsible for finding asbestos, only enforcing proper abatement. The Owner, in this case, the School District, is responsible for detection, abatement, and removal of asbestos.
Especially with a potential health hazard like asbestos, or lead paint for that matter, and the proximity to children, this is an issue that should not be taken lightly, and the District is being the responsible party in making sure an incident of exposure doesn't occur.
In this day and age of lawsuits, this is a potential ticking time bomb if not addressed with sufficient due diligence.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm
"1) It's not true that tax revenue hasn't gone up under Prop 13 -- there's a lot more total revenue (arguably the same or more as without Prop 13, since Prop 13 inflates house values due to reduced inventory)
2) As a result, there's still plenty of revenue for the schools (nearly $10k/student/year!)
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm
"Without it you would get more of our hard earned money."
There is a certain irony in witnessing people classify their tax shelter as an earned right, but can then turn around and accuse those with pensions and negotiated contractual benefits as being lazy and undeserving.
This is not about taking away hard earned money. This is about reforming a poorly implemented perk.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm
"So vote NO on Measure G, but still reform Prop 13 and pensions."
Until there is sizable reform in Prop 13 and public pensions, bond measures for education like Measure G will unfortunately need to be passed. That is the fundamental reason why they are needed in the first place, to provide supplemental funding because Prop 13 turns off the spigot.
There's a good chart in the second one showing that property tax revenue has grown basically every year since 1980, averaging close to 10% (which is way higher than inflation). So you're completely mistaken that property tax revenues have not grown beyond inflation.
Why have they grown so much despite Prop 13? Home values have skyrocketed, even after the recent downturn (as you say, your house went up 3X in value). And there's still enough turnover in homes to drive the additional revenue.
Furthermore, Prop 13 actually increases those purchase prices through simple supply and demand -- because there's less incentive for people to sell homes who have held them the longest, they rent them out or keep them around (this is why many neighborhoods have at least one run down home; owner is sitting on it without having to pay much tax). Less sales = lower supply = higher prices. Higher prices = more tax revenue.
So total property tax revenue is generally unaffected (or perhaps even benefited) by Prop 13. It just shifts the burden, which is unfair. So still needs reform, but not actually to raise more revenue.
Hardin, you haven't justified how they could possibly need more then $10k/student anyway. Face the facts, it's wasted money, and the district always wants more.
Notice though, how California is very average when it comes to per student expenditures. About half the states in the US spend more than we do on their students, so that $9,500 figure isn't so impressive when we look at what other states are doing.
For a class of 25, New York spends close to $400,000.
Again, I'm not saying more money equals better student performance as a blanket statement.
But I am saying that $9,500 bucks per student is very average in this country, and not outrageously expensive. Compare that with what we are willing to pay for housing and gas, and it might even seem shameful that we don't spend more on our kids' education.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 11:55 pm
"Regarding Prop 13 and tax revenue growth -- here's another article with the math:"
For the record, that article is a rebuttal from an op-ed piece, published in a blog that I'm not familiar with.
More importantly though, are the 51 comments generated at the end of the article. They are much more nuanced in identifying the assumptions and flaws in the math as proposed. They are also very informative in representing both sides of this issue.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 25, 2012 at 12:41 am
"There's a good chart in the second one showing that property tax revenue has grown basically every year since 1980, averaging close to 10% (which is way higher than inflation). So you're completely mistaken that property tax revenues have not grown beyond inflation."
Thanks for the link, but I'm not seeing any chart on it that suggests property tax collections have increased 10% year over year. What I did find extremely interesting in this report are these facts:
a. Prop 13 limits assessed property value by 2%. (Page 1)
b. The average rate of inflation since 1978 has been 4.1% (Page 1)
c. Property tax raises significant revenue for local governments. (Page 2)
d. Not all single family homes are owner occupied. About 24% of single family homes in California are rental properties or non-primary residences (second homes). (Page 5)
e. Change in ownership appears to represent the bulk of year to year growth in countywide assessed valuation. (Page 7)
So here's what I got out of this:
1. Prop 13 has actually DECREASED property tax collections by preventing assessed home values from increasing more than 2%, while the average inflation rate since its inception has been more than 2X at 4.1%. Left to itself, Prop 13 will continue to decrease funding available to education indefinitely.
2. About a 25% of all single family homes in this state are NOT owner occupied. That means a quarter of all homes in the state receive a tax shelter for which the owner doesn't live there. These 25 percenters are the same folks that will vote "NO" on every local ballot measure that requires an increase in their taxes, because they do not use or benefit from the local improvements to schools or infrastructure, that local homeowners will. They have no interest or incentive to motivate them otherwise.
3. I was wrong in my analysis that assumed property tax collections have been stagnant over the last 30 years. It has indeed grown, although I don't see any evidence that suggests its been 10% a year. However, the important take away on this is that the majority of that growth is driven by NEW HOME OWNERS.
IN ITS PUREST FORM, PROP 13 IS NOTHING MORE THAN A PONZI SCHEME DRESSED UP TO LOOK LIKE LEGISLATION. Those who got it early are reaping the benefits, at the expense of everyone else who comes after.
So we agree, Prop 13 needs reform. And if we were reading the same report, we should also agree why it needs to be reformed.
Posted by Yvette, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 25, 2012 at 7:07 am
"2. About a 25% of all single family homes in this state are NOT owner occupied. "
About 50% of Mountain View is NOT owner occupied and the city keep approving more "luxury" apartments. Factor that in to the quality of community in Mountain View. It must be those 50% who are so anxious to get rid of Prop 13 since the city has helped make the dream of owning a home pretty much impossible.
Posted by John, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on May 25, 2012 at 9:16 am
if we're talking propositions let's talk about Prop 98- which guarantees 40% of the state budget for schools no matter the performance.
Let's talk about teacher unions who elect their bosses and then "bargain" for wages and benifits. The teacher retirement fund is $56 billion short, which is why there is a state tax measure on November's ballot. The tax will go for teacher pensions.
California teachers are among the highest paid and pensioned in the country.
But we work in "old" buildings and need new ones. We need more money and more money and more money....we never have enough.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 25, 2012 at 9:54 am
"But we work in "old" buildings and need new ones. We need more money and more money and more money....we never have enough.
We say you do...vote no on the bond measure."
Please clarify what you mean by "enough". Under what set of criteria and parameters are you making the judgement of what "enough" is?
Specifically, is it centered around how much you are willing to pay into Education, or is it centered around what is commonly required to educate a student in this day and age, in this new economy, to be a successful, productive member of society?
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 25, 2012 at 11:25 am
"To school employee or teacher union rep, er I mean hardin enough means enough, you have enough money to educate the students for whatever century your in."
Its not about what I "can" pay and not about you "are willing" to pay for Education that matters.
What matters is what Californian's should pay when it comes to those institutions that we benefit from as a state, and not necessarily as individuals. If you live here, you have responsibilities and commitments that extend outside yourself. I hope this isn't new to you.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm
There's another article on the new Principal of Huff -- Goldman notes that they had 60 applicants, and all were excellent. If you have 60 very qualified, "excellent" candidates for a position, perhaps you are paying too much in salary/benefits? District needs to make those cuts before they keep asking for more money.
Posted by mr_b, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on May 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm
Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood
"are you suggesting that certain races are more expensive to educate than others? I thought everyone was the same!
What's next? Suggesting that some races commit more crimes?"
I see. So calling people a racist is where you're lowering yourself to because the problem of serving a more diverse population is obviously and basically more complicated than you're willing to admit. That's a typical response from someone threatened by the topic.
Apparently there are still some who believe fallaciously that we are all the same. That we do not come from different backgrounds that can support children differently. You are supposedly able to provide the same support to your child even if you yourself don't speak English in the home, don't have a high school education from your home country, don't have time to help your child because you are holding down multiple jobs to give them an opportunity you didn't have ... You are all exactly the same to some people. The very fact that racial information is collected to help identify needs bothers these people to no end and their only defense is to yell 'racist!'.
For the rest of the readers, it should be clear that children coming from a diverse background may require different resources when providing for their education. If the student population is homogenous -representing primarily one or two groups of people- it is, by that measure, simpler (and cheaper) to serve than a population of greater diversity.
The socioeconomic issue has it's own set of data, but apparently that won't matter either because, according to Nick, we're all the same. Hear that kids? You're not individuals, not cultures, you're just cogs in a machine, inputs in a system, interchangeable things and not people. Apparently, those of you without English-speaking, college-educated, parents with IPO millions should just expect to suck it up, no matter what the data suggests.
Come to think of it, if "everyone was the same" then collecting the data is just a silly waste of resources, a nation-wide silly waste of resources.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 28, 2012 at 9:35 pm
It's not only a diverse population that California is faced with, but we must ask the question, to what level of competency do we want to prepare these kid's for?
California is home to several world class high tech, green tech, and entertainment micro-economic regions that require the best and the brightest to supply a competitive workforce. It shouldn't be enough to prepare these kids to do well just anywhere, they should be prepared to do well here.
Posted by Duh, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on May 29, 2012 at 4:24 am
No real issue there, Hardin. As with the school district's hiring of a principal from New York, all these world class companies in California will just go outside of California and even the US to hire. Wait. Aren't they already doing that?
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 29, 2012 at 8:07 am
"No real issue there, Hardin. As with the school district's hiring of a principal from New York, all these world class companies in California will just go outside of California and even the US to hire. Wait. Aren't they already doing that?"
Not sure you've thought thru your answer there. Yes, companies will hire from out of state and even overseas for qualified candidates, but let's look at what type of positions they are willing to do that for...Management and individual contributors that possess highly specialized skill sets.
For every principal, there are hundreds of teachers. For every vice president, there are thousands of exempt and non-exempt employees.
If you are banking on companies hiring the entire workforce from outside of California, you haven't been paying attention as to what they actually do. Its more likely they will move their operations to where a qualified workforce exists, rather than import everyone, especially considering the cost of living and wages here.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 29, 2012 at 9:58 am
"Taxpayers are moving out-maybe to Utah? and tax takers are moving in."
I agree with you partially. Prop 13 essentially turns every homeowner into a "tax taker", by the very fact that it limits the assessed value for determining property taxes at 2% annually. Compounding this rate since the 1970's yields a rather astronomical amount of money "taken" from Education.
We have been "taking" tax dollars that should have been going into Education, and have been doing so for 30 years.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm
"Prop 98 gives you 40% of the general fund. You want more? Sorry but Prop 13 is here to stay."
You need to check your "facts".
1. Prop 98 guaranteed 39% allocation of the state budget for Education, but only for period of 1998-1999.
2. All subsequent years, the % allocation is based on the state's economic performance, not a fixed number.
3. Funding adjustments are accomplished by shifting specified amounts of property tax revenues from cities, counties and special districts to "educational revenue augmentation funds" (ERAF) to support schools statewide. It's not coming from your pocket, its coming from the pockets of other government agencies.
4. And the last most poignant fact, Prop 98 was created as a direct response to fixing the limitations that Prop 13 imposed upon its inception.
Personally, I don't like Prop 98, nor Prop 13. Both are mandated initiatives that reduce financial flexibility and freedom for our state government from making strategic adjustments on an ongoing basis, and one could argue that Prop 98 is just a band-aid fix for Prop 13.
Prop 13 is the root problem. Fix the root, and there would be no need for Prop 98. Likewise, fix the root, and there would be no need for Measure G.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 29, 2012 at 3:20 pm
"No amount of tax dollars taken will ever be enough, much like giving dope to an addict. Not necessarily implying anything by using 'dope' in a sentence relating to school administration."
On the contrary, I think "dopes" is exactly what we will get if we don't put enough focus into Education. Not only money, but education reform, pension reform, parent participation, and a general societal shift that places a higher priority on holistic, comprehensive education, and not just performing to a test.
If the name-calling and general abundance of one-liners instead of reasoned intelligent discussion in this forum is any indication of the state of education this state, we're going to need alot more than money to fix it.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 29, 2012 at 9:49 pm
"Bottom line is the public school industry gets a heck of a lot of money and will always want more."
Burying your head in the sand hoping the problem will go away won't change anything. Already, we've witnessed the decline of California public education, due to many factors, and one of the primary causes is how the public chose to limit funding to public schools with the passing of Prop 13.
The passing of Prop 98, and the subsequent local bond measures, like Measure G, are a response to Prop 13's stranglehold on education dollars.
Unless Prop 13 is reformed, there will continue to be more ballot measures introduced to seek additional funding. And the real travesty is that the segment of the voting public that benefits the most from Prop 13, is also by definition the segment that benefits the least from a flourishing public education system, at least in the short term.
I say in the short term because it is the success of education that helps guarantee California's long term success, and that is to everyone's best interest.
Posted by John, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on May 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm
Burying your head in the sand hoping the problem will go away won't change anything. Already, we've witnessed the decline of California public education, due to many factors, and one of the primary causes is the California Teacher's Association.
Posted by Old Steve, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on May 30, 2012 at 11:22 am
Outstanding local schools are the single biggest factor in determining property values. The marketplace has different criteria for "outstanding local schools" than educators do as the only statistical factor that aligns with the State's "Academic Performance Index" is the real estate industry's "Affluent Parent Index" If you want your home value to keep pace with those in surrounding communities, when they bond for better school buildings, you need to do likewise.
If you don't care about the future value of your home, or the economic success of those who will support you past your economic usefulness, you don't need to Vote Yes on Measure G.
Since local school districts cannot change how they fund operations or capital expenses, all we get is a yes or no vote. We can keep arguing about whether the system is broken or not, but every five years we argue is another generation of elementary students not being given the resources to succeed economically in the community where they are being raised. Since the law requires us to operate public schools, if we want to be a successful community, we need to operate good schools.
However, I've asked the same type of question with regards to comments suggesting the school systems already get "enough" to operate successfully....with little to nothing provided in the way of measurable data to support that assessment.
Posted by Old Steve, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on May 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm
So in ten years when the remodeling is 20 years old, and construction costs are higher, and the recently completed strategic plan can no longer be used, then we should vote on a bigger bond to address the same issues? Last time the district was not yet one district. Each district had a bond program, but they each focused on different things. Where remodels were done that did not touch certain areas, abatement did not have to be done. That is why abatement language is included. The present district office was built as a school and has already been remodeled. Get the district to give you a tour if you don't understand why they need a new one.
Posted by Old Steve, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on May 31, 2012 at 8:47 am
According to the several thousand pages of law known as Education Code, Parcel taxes need to be spent on operations, bond proceeds need to be spent on facilities. Before taking on Education pensions, make sure to understand who does and does not qualify for Social Security. Some districts have in fact committed to fund lifetime health care for retirees, obviously a large obligation. MVWSD is not one of those districts. Their retirees need to join Medicare at age 65. The MVEF contributed over $500K in donations to the district in the current fiscal year, but that is still a small portion of an annual budget well north of $25M. None of that money (by law) can be spent on design and construction of facilities. If you don't want to pay for quality schools in a community that cares about them, what public services do you value??
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on May 31, 2012 at 9:59 am
Let's bottom line it, and be done. Rather than piecemeal increases, let the administrators produce a one-time dollar figure they would reqiure to bring our student's acedemic performance up to the national average. Simple 'yes, take everything you want' or 'no, live with what we already gave you' 2/3 majority vote.
Posted by Old Steve, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on May 31, 2012 at 11:27 am
As to a one-time figure, great concept, hard to implement, BUT:
Studies already have been done by Stanford and others (at least $10K per student to start). Also, that was intent of Prop 98. Current deficit factor is above 20% of what voters thought schools would receive. So lets direct our legislators to quit messing with Prop 98, and get Congress to fund Special Ed in accordance with Federal Law. We would still need bonds for facilities, but piecemeal parcel taxes would be become much rarer.
If we think government in general should spend less, we should be prepared to tell it specifically and in detail what we want it to do less of. For schools is that basics?, art?, music?, PE?, science?
For the City: fewer parks? dirtier water? longer response times?
For State and Fed: Eliminate Unemployment issurance? close parks (happening next month in California)? Reduce law enforcement? Release Prisoners?
What are we willing to give up? Since revenues are down 20% since 2007, we can't expect the same level of service without broadening revenue sources. Before you simply demand pay cuts, remember that public employees vote somewhere and generally pay sales and property taxes, if not in town, certainly within the region. As the old saying goes: Taxpayers are us.
Posted by John, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2012 at 10:08 am
We are willing to give up the excessive salaries and pensions of our public employees.
We are willing to ask for doing the job your paid to do.
But what we get is pay more TAX(revenue sources) or we'll shut down the parks, the schools, longer response time.
Revenue sources is a euphimism for TAX. Public servants would rather not use such a harsh word as taxes-which place a strain on the economy.
This bond measure is a TAX.
A tax may be defined as a "pecuniary burden laid upon individuals or property owners to support the government, a payment exacted by legislative authority." A tax "is not a voluntary payment or donation, but an enforced contribution, exacted pursuant to legislative authority" and is "any contribution imposed by government, whether under the name of toll, tribute, tallage, gabel, impost, duty, custom, excise, subsidy, aid, supply, or other name."
Posted by Old Steve, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2012 at 1:41 pm
Thanks for quoting a dictionary. I believe taxes, fees, and other sources of revenue are adequately defined by law. The bond measure uses property taxes to retire the bond financing. Bond funding cannot be used for salaries and pensions in schools. Nor can parcel taxes or state revenue limit funding be used for facilities improvements. Both are against the law. Now that our local economy is improving shall we cut the salaries and pensions of educators just to see how many good people we can drive out of education? That would be one way to make it cheaper, but cheaper is not necessarily better. School systems and municipal systems are run by different funds, but share one point in common. Most members are not eligible for social security. When that is factored in, I don't believe their pensions are excessive for the vast majority. Clearly the old saw about waste, fraud, and abuse will never die, but as a percentage it is small.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm
A tax is a tax is a tax. It doesn't matter what they call each specific component, or where each little component is allocated. What matters is the total amount taken, and what is done with that total.
The question was raised 'what would we cut', and John from Monte Loma spelled it out pretty clearly. The gov't at all levels is a giant money squandering machine. Stop the waste, stop the excesses. Plenty of money then left over for parks, schools, police and fire.
I guess my challege of 'name your price, we'll vote on it' was a bit too abstract. Certainly not an accurately calculable figure, but bound to be enormous beyond absurdity, and guaranty a NO. Let's just stop it now, before it grows to that level (and more) bit by bit.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm
"Not sure how that Somalia thing plays in..."
My guess is the poster is saying that we tend to forget or discount what we GAIN with our tax dollars.
Security, Education, and Liberty are all benefits we collectively receive from our individually contributed tax dollars, but to a certain degree, we all take these positives for granted, and focus solely on the negatives. Somalia is a real life example of what happens when there is no state, and should help us to remember the benefits we gain from having the government we currently do.
Granted, our government is far from perfect, but is there a better model out there, taken as a whole with its pros and cons, that is preferable?
Its easy to point out waste and inefficiency, and we should continue to strive to eliminate it, but if this is being used as the sole justification for doing nothing, then its really just an excuse to rationalize, and not actually a productive answer to the pressing question of how to improve education for our children.
The question shouldn’t be whether this "tax" is desirable, no tax is. The question should be whether the collective benefit that comes from supporting education outweighs the individual sacrifice we are all being asked to make.
That's the difference between living here, and living in a place like Somalia.
Posted by John, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2012 at 10:40 pm
knew that would come up exactly because we don't understand how much we are being taxed.
9% sales tax
7.5% to the bankrupt social security plus
7.5% from the employer who counts it as employee expense
Plus SDI, parcel taxes (school districts etc), car license fees, court fees, development fees, Alternative Minimum Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Can and Bottle Tax, Court Fines (Indirect Taxes),Dog License Tax, Gasoline Tax , Gift Tax, State Park Fees, Occupancy tax, rental car tax, user tax,
Utility Usage tax, Toll Bridge Tax, Traffic Fines (Indirect Taxation),
and there are far far far more.
So no I'm not kidding.
But hey the taxpayer isn't doing enough, we want more.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm
knew that would come up exactly because we don't understand how much we are being taxed.
9% sales tax
7.5% to the bankrupt social security plus
7.5% from the employer who counts it as employee expense
Plus SDI, parcel taxes (school districts etc), car license fees, court fees, development fees, Alternative Minimum Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Can and Bottle Tax, Court Fines (Indirect Taxes),Dog License Tax, Gasoline Tax , Gift Tax, State Park Fees, Occupancy tax, rental car tax, user tax,
Utility Usage tax, Toll Bridge Tax, Traffic Fines (Indirect Taxation),
and there are far far far more.
So no I'm not kidding.
But hey the taxpayer isn't doing enough, we want more.
QQ less, read more. You are crying because your spoon isn't silver.
I'm not a tax expert, but I do know that my federal tax rate is nowhere near 32%, and hasn't been since I've started paying. There are ample deductions most Americans can take, especially those who own a home. Let's not forget the annual 2% cap on property values from Prop 13, that does not even keep up with the average inflation rate of 4% since its inception.
My guess is that your effective tax rate is much lower than what you are claiming it to be.
And if you thought your current tax situation was bad, for most people around world, and even for most Americans in this country, you're tax rate doesn't even qualify in the top 10 list of countries or states:
Posted by John, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm
Leading financial firms over the past five years donated $1.8 million to successful school bond measures in California, and in almost every instance, school district officials hired those same underwriters to sell the bonds for a profit, a California Watch review has found.
Posted by John, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm
The final word will be Tuesday when the voters will foolishly vote themselves another $300 a year tax bill.
While we will be PAYING $300 per year for 25 years (for many, the rest of our lives), remember former district administrators Ms. Yick, Archibeque, Totter, and Lairon will be RECEIVING about $200,000 per year in pension, each, for the rest of their lives. To quote another poster.
The winners: construction firms, bond brokers and administrators.
The losers: torn up schools that are more than adequate, "beautiful, newly-remodeled buildings with 2-story buildings".
Neighborhood parks, displaced students, teachers, parents and on and on. The taxpayer who is yet again saddled with more unnecessary debt.
A smallish established school district does not need such a huge amount of money.
But keep drinking your cool aid and vote yourselves into bankruptcy.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm
"Bottom line is that Measure G will replace beautiful, newly-remodeled buildings with newere 2-story buildings."
"The losers: torn up schools that are more than adequate, "beautiful, newly-remodeled buildings with 2-story buildings"."
Can you provide additional information regarding this?
According to the notes provided by Steven Nelson, who does not support Measure G, the 2-story building replaces 6 classrooms at Castro, not a "newly-remodeled building", and even he concedes this may be a good investment, due to the limited space at the site.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm
"The final word will be Tuesday when the voters will foolishly vote themselves another $300 a year tax bill."
This is overly simplified, and requires clarification.
Measure G assesses $30 for every $100,000 of assessed property value.
So for those homes assessed at 1 million dollars, which means the current annual property tax is about $12,500, the additional from Measure G is $300.
For those homes purchased in the 70's, and therefore have been shielded from the majority of property taxes because of Prop 13, current assessed property value is about $100,000, with a current annual property tax of $1,250, and the resulting addition caused by Measure G is 30 bucks.
All other homes with assessed property values between this range will see something smaller than $300, and greater than $30.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2012 at 7:59 pm
Here's the last word -- VOTE NO! Because voting yes means that you'll continue to get asked for more, more, more... so there is no "last request" for funding from administrators. They need as much general fund as possible for their fat pensions ($150k+/year!!! Insanity), so they need to ask for additional funds for building maintenance. Vote no, and tell them to improve the buildings anyway but reducing their pensions. Simple, and seems to make sense to everyone but Hardin and any other Union members.
Posted by mr_b, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2012 at 3:45 am
Seriously, John and Nick. We get that you're about not paying taxes and not for pensions or unions, so what do you think a realistic, competitive, market-based salary should be for teachers? How would you go about building a large enough budget for school infrastructure upgrades? Where would the funding come from? How long to pay it off?
How long would you work at your job if they asked you to take a substantial pay cut because they needed to purchase new equipment? Don't say that wouldn't happen because of x,y, or z. That's essentially what you're proposing, stand behind it and answer the question.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2012 at 8:43 am
>Seriously, John and Nick. We get that you're about not paying taxes >and not for pensions or unions, so what do you think a realistic, >competitive, market-based salary should be for teachers? How would >you go about building a large enough budget for school >infrastructure upgrades? Where would the funding come from? How long >to pay it off?
It's not the teacher salaries that are entirely the problem. It's the pensions that go with it, particularly for the administrators (but also increasingly, the teachers).
Let's say teachers should (on average) make the private-sector equivalent of $100k/year; an upper middle class salary. BUT -- no pension (they can do 401k like everyone else). And since they work 9 months/year, the effective equivalent is $75k. Add in health care and other costs, let's say the teacher costs up to $110k/year. If the classroom has 25 kids spending $10k/each, that means we still have $140k left over for maintenance (present and future), supplies, administration, and more.
Posted by district insider who is voting NO, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2012 at 11:05 am
How can Trustee Walter possibly say that the district will NOT be asking for more money in the future when...
1. this bond is for $200M and the total cost of the work on the wish lists adds up to $400M
2. we JUST FINISHED spending the $32M (something like that) 1998 Measure D bond money on major facility renovations?
How can someone possibly say "we won't ask for more" WHILE they are doing exactly that?
Have you heard anything in the news lately about district administrators cutting their own salaries or pensions or staff? Yes it's from a different fund but it's the mentality here we are talking about, being used to a steady stream of other people's money and spending it with far less restraint than you would with your OWN money.
Posted by mr_b, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm
Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood
"Let's say teachers should (on average) make the private-sector equivalent of $100k/year; an upper middle class salary. BUT -- no pension (they can do 401k like everyone else). And since they work 9 months/year, the effective equivalent is $75k. Add in health care and other costs, let's say the teacher costs up to $110k/year. If the classroom has 25 kids spending $10k/each, that means we still have $140k left over for maintenance (present and future), supplies, administration, and more."
I appreciate this tone a lot better.
First off, I think your estimate of revenue/student is a little high at $10k. From the district home page I'm getting about $8800/student and that's before subtracting out special ed funding and other targeted programs. My guess is that brings it down to around $7800/student, or $55k per classroom out of your budget right there.
I disagree with your statement that teachers "work 9 months/year"; teachers work more than simply when children attend classes, including during the summer. I also believe that if you are comparing teachers to the private sector, you may need to include paid vacation time which could make up for the other time you have left out. Employees within the private sector may earn several weeks, if not months, of vacation if they have worked for their employer over decades. The main differences being that teachers cannot take time off whenever they want and their vacation time doesn't decrease or increase based on job experience or years served. If we're looking at benefits relative to professionals in the private sector, you need to add that time back in.
If you remove pensions you need to add back social security.
Health care costs are also increasing rapidly. This is a critical benefit because you want to keep the teacher-student relationship very regular and not interrupt it with frequent or long-term absences requiring sick pay and substitute teacher pay.
Also, I'm not sure what you mean about 401k's. Are you meaning that the district would offer them with some sort of matching? Teachers can already contribute to 403b's which are their equivalent of a 401k.
Those initial changes are taking some substantial chunks out of your proposed budget.
We haven't even discussed planning to address special education encroachment (the Milpitas Post ran an article last week about special ed encroachment doubling for Milpitas' schools over the last 10 years and their struggles to work with the Santa Clara County's expensive programs; Mountain View-Whisman has hinted at similar concerns in the last budget report). We haven't discussed state cuts, enrollment numbers and other issues that would or could decrease student-sourced funding. There also doesn't seem to be anything in your plan for investment in new technologies, staff development, teachers' aides...
I appreciate your taking a shot at it, but I don't think it adds up as neatly as you're proposing.
Education funding is one of the most complicated systems out there with much of the budget already allotted to specific, unalterable pots. It's just not realistic to make sweeping changes and not expect any drastic side effects.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm
"It's not the teacher salaries that are entirely the problem. It's the pensions that go with it, particularly for the administrators (but also increasingly, the teachers).
Let's say teachers should (on average) make the private-sector equivalent of $100k/year; an upper middle class salary. BUT -- no pension (they can do 401k like everyone else). And since they work 9 months/year, the effective equivalent is $75k. Add in health care and other costs, let's say the teacher costs up to $110k/year. If the classroom has 25 kids spending $10k/each, that means we still have $140k left over for maintenance (present and future), supplies, administration, and more."
The problem with "...if I were President, here's what I would do..." suggestions is that they tend to make wide ranging assumptions on issues the presenter has little to no knowledge about. Here are a couple of large assumptions that I question, regarding your suggestion for "fixing" this problem:
1. You assume that existing pension obligations for teachers and administrators can be eliminated outright and replaced with 401k's.
Neat concept, but the bigger question is how to go about implementing that. Those existing pensions include accumulated contributions from all participating members over many years, who don't qualify for Social Security because of their pensions. Many people have based their long term financial plans around those pensions, just like many of us are planning our futures on our 401K’s. They are contractual obligations. At the very least, you would need to offer a “buyout”, providing a lump sum to each person, and then the question is, where do you get THAT amount of money?
2. You assume the problem is primarily with administrator salaries and pensions, and not the teachers. A quick look at any balance sheet will tell you the majority of the salary and pension problem is driven by teachers, and not by administrators, simply because there are so many more teachers than admin personnel. Its easy and politically correct to blame the boss and not the workers, but the sheer number of workers is what drives the salary numbers.
3. So that leads to the next problem, if its teacher salary and pensions that drive the costs problem, then what effect will your plan to eliminate those pensions, backtrack on the promises made to these teachers, and give them a lump sum which is going to be less than the value of their pensions going to do with the quality of instruction? How many will decide to take that lump sum and leave the profession? How will you attract new teachers, assuming you are no longer going to offer pension plans? How will you compensate for the loss of experience that comes from teachers who have worked in the classroom for years, vs. the new teacher coming into the profession?
Bear in mind, I’m in agreement that something has to be done with the pension, medical benefit issue for all state workers, simply because it is unsustainable. But unlike you, I see the solution to be something that is going to be gradual, such as changing of union contracts as they come up for renewal, and reviewing whether we do indeed have enough revenue to support the kind of education everyone wants, but few want to pay for (Prop 13, anyone?)
And the main point is, rejection of Measure G does nothing to support or aid in the success of your plan. If anything, it makes your plan even more unworkable because you now have even less money to achieve the steps you’ve outlined.
This is America, you don’t have the luxury of dictating policy however you please. In a debate such as this, you will need to do the dirty work of negotiating with many the stake holders involved, like the unions, and parents, because like it or not, they have the power to stop you dead in your tracks. The finesse and politicking that must be done to make progress is why this issue is so difficult, and requires a more subtle touch, rather than the bat you plan to bring to the table.
Being an armchair quarterback may be fine for the Super Bowl, but if you’re going to wade into this discussion like John Wayne with “big picture” solutions, be prepared to be dressed down when they start to look like a pig with lipstick.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm
mr_b: teachers don't work during the summer without additional compensation. Many have additional jobs because they have the time. And regarding vacation, they do have less flexibility, but they have longer breaks during the year (winter and spring breaks) than the private sector. So I still argue that a 75% multiplier relative to a private sector salary is appropriate, so I'd still stand at $75k being very generous (equivalent to $100k private sector). Yes, they'd need Social Security (so both teacher and district would pay additional taxes). But even if you cut the budget per classroom down to say $210k, and say $110k goes to the teacher (including healthcare, social security), you have $100k left for all the items you mentioned. How would you allocate the $100k?
Hardin: states and city governments are working on ways to reduce existing pension obligations; it's very possible even without offering a lump sum payout. You can adjust based on each year served (so not make the current promises retroactive), or do lay offs unless agreements are made to reduce future payouts. You started working for the government when promises were much lower; why should recent bad decisions apply to your past years of work?
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2012 at 4:19 pm
"Hardin: states and city governments are working on ways to reduce existing pension obligations; it's very possible even without offering a lump sum payout."
Um, so now you are saying that your big plan is to rely on the state and city government to make the changes you want to see happen?
Essentially, you’ve now traded in you quarterback armchair status to become a back-seat driver.
You really haven’t solved anything, just stepped back, so that others appear to step forward. Not to mention, I don’t think this is a good idea. The city and state government are partially responsible for the past negotiations that have caused this problem in the first place.
Intense public scrutiny and holding our public officials accountable are what’s needed to make sure our interests are represented at the bargaining table.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm
"You can adjust based on each year served (so not make the current promises retroactive), or do lay offs unless agreements are made to reduce future payouts."
And exactly how would you propose this be done, legally that is.
Those pensions and benefits are CONTRACTUAL obligations. Other than changing the language on future contracts, the only other lawful way to do what you propose is to negotiate these changes with the very people you dismiss so easily.
And if you to enact layoffs to essentially avoid paying benefits , you are practicing the same kind of dishonesty that companies did in the 90’s when they hired temporary employees or fired older employees to avoid paying benefits.
How will that affect the quality of education, and the ability to attract new talent?
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm
"You started working for the government when promises were much lower; why should recent bad decisions apply to your past years of work?"
I’ve never worked as a government employee (unless you count a high school internship at the USGS), though I have consulted to public agencies.
But if I were a public employee, I would remind you that those bad decisions were made by city and state representatives that signed a contract with my union, on the behalf of the public. If you don’t like the contract, you should be calling your representatives to renegotiate a new one.
Until then, contract law sets a pretty strong precedent.
That's why its so important we start insisting on changes to new contracts so that this problem does not persist any longer than it has to.
Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2012 at 9:09 am
"Abatement" of hazardous materials is specifically an "exclusion" in the cost estimates of the Facilities Plan. If 50 classrooms (not the 62 modulars) are demolished for the architect plan, any hazardous materials in the demolition are in the budget estimate. The previous Whisman District bond did specifically include abatement (which is a much less costly update that demolition/rebuild).
Hardin - you need to quit dominating the 'discussion'. It's getting to be like the Yes G mailers (and letters to the editor) which keep repeating the same phrases over and over!
I support rational allocation and spending of public (tax) money. I will spend Years working against what I consider misallocation [99% property tax to Shoreline District]. Besides bad community planning - this is grossly inequitable in it's treatment of the Whisman neighborhood. I'll spend as many years as necessary beating on this issue. Please Vote NO and and this back to the Board of Trustees.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2012 at 11:32 am
"Hardin - you need to quit dominating the 'discussion'. It's getting to be like the Yes G mailers (and letters to the editor) which keep repeating the same phrases over and over!"
On the contrary, most of this discussion has been dominated with a "No on G" theme, and the recurring mantra of "no more taxes", "we pay too much already", and "The schools have enough/too much already", of which I've posed clarifying questions to see if these opinions are supported by facts or something else.
I welcome and invite Yes or No on Measure G propositions, and will continue to ask probing questions to see if they stand up to scrutiny. To do otherwise is to revel in a "He said, She said" level of discussion, without elevating it to something we can all make an informed decision on.
Although I've been very clear where I stand on this issue, unlike you and others, I have not called for OTHER people to vote for or against Measure G, only to weigh the information (and disinformation) that is being bandied about.
A healthy democracy calls for tough questions to be asked, and popular positions to be challenged in an educated way. Anything less is just mob appeal.
Posted by Observer, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm
"A healthy democracy calls for tough questions to be asked, and popular positions to be challenged in an educated way. Anything less is just mob appeal."
Then, based on how the unions siphon money from their members for political campaigns and tell there membership how to vote, we obviously don't have a very healthy democracy and we are appealing to the mob, backed by mob money.
And when was the last time The Voice asked tough questions? It took Mr. Nelson to expose the out-of-state groups that are behind 99% of measure G funding.
Posted by Old Steve, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm
John -- Do you have a source for the $500B qouted above? Remember, public employees pay into theirs also, and don't qualify for Social Security. They also largely don't get bonuses, options, or any other financial incentive the private sector has been known to offer. My wager would be that as public services decline due to reduced funding your balance sheet (assuming a long time homeowner) as well as your quality of life would also decline.
Mr. Nelson -- The allocation of a proper percentage is certainly open for discussion, but Shoreline maintenance will go on FOREVER which is a very long-time. Changes due to short term predicaments would be quite risky.
Since we have school board elections in November which are usually light on candidates, I would encourage readers who are not happy to investigate. I suspect you will find you don't have energy for campaigning or serving.
Posted by John, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm
The state of California's real unfunded pension debt clocks in at more than $500 billion, nearly eight times greater than officially reported.
That's the finding from a study released Monday by Stanford University's public policy program, confirming a recent report with similar, stunning findings from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.
We don't have the energy-we have full time jobs and families. Those nasty jobs that produce the taxes that aren't enough to support public employees and their offices.
Unless we get union backing an outsider doesn't stand a chance.
Posted by John, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm
Public services are not going to decline from lack of effort by the common taxpayer --- Apple et al can avoid taxes -- but will decline because the staggering amount of unfunded debt stands to crowd out funding for many programs, which is happening now; the threats of park closing, reduced school funding, etc.
All these public agencies are going to run out of taxpayer!
Posted by Old Steve, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm
As as Stanford alum I learned a long time ago not to believe everything published at the University!
If you are really worried about financial meltdown why inflict your views on today's students as a way to express anger at their educators who you believe to be overpaid and overpensioned.
Those unfunded liabilities you fret about are the result of the same market meltdown that got the rest of us. If you somehow believe the public sector has not had to cut back like the rest of us, you are not looking hard enough. My kids are already educated, we just disagree on the community value of education and on which of the lies, da** lies, and statistics belong where on the political spectrum.
Posted by John, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm
As as Stanford alum I learned a long time ago not to believe everything published at the University!
What can I say to that? except "similar, stunning findings from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago"
So everyone is just making it up?
What anger? Expressing opinions is anger? Blaming the taxpayer for not supporting education? The bond/tax measure will pass today, yet again showing support for education. Leaving us in the hole for another $400 million.
However education and everything else in this state will suffer in order to fund the excessive pensions that public employees have awarded themselves thru collective bargaining and being able to elect friendly representatives with which to "bargain" on the state and local levels.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm
"What can I say to that? except "similar, stunning findings from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago"
So everyone is just making it up?"
Probably not, but you would be amazed how many studies are taken out of context and tossed around to dazzle, rather than to inform. Name tossing is just too easy and mis-leading to be of any value, by itself.
It would be more informative to provide links and references, so that we all have the opportunity to see the same data you have been looking at.
Posted by John, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm
The SIEPR study, titled, “Pension Math: How California’s Retirement Spending is Squeezing the State Budget,” stated that based on a “more realistic 6.2 percent rate of return,” public pensions were underfunded by $290.6 billion, or $24,000 per California household. The report also calculated the amount of unfunded liability using different assumptions for investment returns: pensions were underfunded by $498 billion using a 4.5 percent “risk-free” rate, and by $142.6 billion using a 7.5 to 7.75 percent rate.
But that's not the point.
The point it that the school district's tax/bond is excessive and
unnecessary. It has nothing to do with learning or education.
It's about taking as much public money as you can and to heck with the consequences.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm
The SIEPR study essentially says there's a shortfall in the pension fund and lists the following solutions:
1. Raise Pension System Revenues by raising employee contributions, TEMPORARY TAX INCREASES (Sales taxes, income taxes, local taxes)(page 40)
2. Reduce Pension System Costs by reducing employee and retiree benefits and/or increasing the retirement age, benefit formula changes. However, the report also points out the following:
"Reducing benefits for current employees faces stiff legal challenges. Most observers suggest that past benefits for current employees are vested rights and my not be changed. Most legal scholars suggest that a state constitutional amendment is necessary before prospective benefit reductions can be implemented."(Page 41)
Bottom line is, the report recognizes that the solutions to this problem will be gradual, and require multiple strategies, INCLUDING TAX INCREASES, to fix this problem.
And most important, nowhere in the report does it recommend elimination of local bond measures for education, to assist in this process.
So while you're holding up the SIEPR study as your Holy Bible for recognizing and addressing the pension problem, please read it first to understand that it too, calls for TAX INCREASES as part of the solution.