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Original post made
on Jun 6, 2012
Proposition 13 is great. Unfortunately the spenders-as opposed to thrifters-have a never ending desire to throw money at probems instead of employing more prudent and less expensive fixes ala: Yet another SCHOOL bond for Measure G.
I want to see a detailed report on exactly how much asbestos they actually find/remove -- vs. that just being a scare tactic to dupe people into voting for more spending.
Stay tuned over the next few years, as the administrators gleefully announce their latest spending success stories. Then, the money will be gone, and test scores will still be dismal. See you again, real soon.
Ok the district has almost $200m to spend. What is the cost of improving the buildings to allow for energy efficient technologies (which will cost more $) to be installed? And what is the anticipated cost savings of going green?
What I'd really like to see is a plan to invest in teachers (not more central district management staff) to improve the quality of classroom instruction.
Thanks to all the watch dogs for asking for more transparency and accountability.
Since utilities have to be paid from funds that could otherwise be invested in teachers and curriculum, but energy efficiency can be upgraded using bond funding, you have hit on one of the keys to the measure. The State requires detailed abatement reports for hazardous materials exposed as part of construction. That is one reason not much asbestos can cost quite a bit.
I'm not sure what dismal test scores are being referred to, and I'm not clear how NOT improving facilities would have helped improve test scores, given that school districts (by law) cannot mix capital and operational funding sources.
1) Proposition 13 is not great! It has had a dismal effect on education since it began. I think the way it was before Prop 13 also was not great. There should be some kind of happy medium. THe less expensive fixes have been being used - add more portables; don't fix the plumbing; put more students in a classroom built for less. I forgive your ignorance because you are probably not a parent in a public school.
2) They have ALREADY found asbestos/lead. That is why the lawsuit was dropped so quickly. Judges don't just drop lawsuits for nothing.
3) You obviously have not been watching test scores. They have been increasing over the past 5 years. AND, they were not actual dismal before. And, they have actually had spending success stories even recently. That is why our District is not doing teacher furlough days like many other districts close by. And, that is why our class sizes are smaller than most districts close by.
4) Again, if you look around, our District Management is not bigger than other districts around. We have fantastic teachers and great classroom instruction. There is always room for improvement and updating. The District has had watchdog committees (that are open to the public, but people usually do not come to listen) to manage the 2 parcel taxes that they got many years ago. The money was spent the way that the District said it would be.
I know that it is easy to snipe and be negative, but you guys are all way off base here.
WOW ANOTHER WAY TO INCREASE OUR PROPERTY TAX!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have no kids and now I am forced to pay for upgrading at all NINE CAMPUSUS with an upgrade in my property taxes. What will the future hold for more upgrades and more property tax increases.
I hope that San Pierre Way gets upgrades as in THREE STOP SIGNS at San Luis @ San Pierre for a 3 way stop. When kids are dropped off and picked up, traffic is a nightmare and virtually at a standstill. Even at San Pierre @ Montecito. We need crossing guards as well.
I just dropped off my senior citizen exemption form. There is no way I am paying for this. I bought here in 1970, so am not paying any where near the ridiculous amount in taxes my neighbors are! I just retired as well. Next up I will transfer the house to my son, and move into my rental which I bought in 1978.
I think all the finances from all government institutions should be made public, ever penny of it. The public should have access to this though the internet. I'm not just saying a simple pie chart, I mean every penny needs to be accounted for. Lets make our schools the best with this 25 yr tax and lets have accountability. Not this, The money was spent the way that the District said it would be." Lets make sure of this last statement. The people need to know.
How much more transparency is needed? Expenditures are already presented to the school board three times per year, including projections out three years. Each budget report is approximately 100 pages, and is available as part of the agenda package, at the board meeting, or afterward. Summaries are generally maintained on the District's website, since maintaining the complete details current on the web would be a larger undertaking. By the way, amid all these calls for more transparency and accountability, very few members of the public attend to learn how money is being spent.
I don't think more transparency is necessary either.
What is needed is more honesty from ourselves to fully read and understand what is being reported, both by government agencies and by independent 3rd parties that issue analysis concerning public agency operations, and by considering the quality of the sources we cite.
Annual reports, and SIEPR Stanford studies, and even newspaper articles are only as good as the people who interpret them. If we're going into this with prejudice against the facts, and are unwilling to consider new ideas that may not necessarily jive with what we already know, then the reports will serve only to bolster our self-subscribed beliefs, rather than open up new possibilities that can lead to better solutions.
The facts can speak for themselves....the problem starts when we try to steer the discussion by embellishing some facts, while ignoring others.
The MVWSD has a pretty good website, find out about meetings about all sorts of issues. Traveled places and with my handy laptop can find out about site planning that happened in the pasr.
Does this mean we get 25 years without the district begging for MORE of my money?
I know.. I'm dreaming. It would be fun to start a pool when the next ballot measure it put up. Inside of 5 years? 10 years?
Otto, it will be as soon as next yr.
Without accountably is the way money gets missed used. It's public money, so it should all be publicly known. And like someone said, a pie chart is not a clear form of tracking money.
"Each budget report is approximately 100 pages, and is available as part of the agenda package, at the board meeting, or afterward"
What's the problem with digitalizing those 100 pages? Are you worried someone will find all the abuse with miss managed money?
Hardin, I agree with you, honesty is needed but not from us, but from the school accountants.
If there is no misuse in funds then it should not be a problem to publicly acknowledge where the money goes.
By the way, amid all these calls for more transparency and accountability, very few members of the public attend to learn how money is being spent.
Maybe that's because we're working long hours to pay high taxes. The district can buy a multi-page scanner and scan all the budget and bond documents .pdf to the website. Or can't they? Why not? Makes me wonder about transparency.
Cupertino had a similar measure.... They promised to spend the money only on infrastructure improvements for safety and energy efficiency, not on salaries. They used the money to put solar panels over parking lots, and New foot ball field lights that would also support cell antennas. The cell providers then paid rent on the cell towers, that of course went back into the general fund along with the money saved on PGE which then as you might have guessed... went to pay higher administration salaries....
If we continue to allow the government to hostage our kids educations, we can expect to continue to be their cash cow. We need the government in the education standards and regulation business, not the education business.
I voted for G, don't have kids and do own a house. I feel responsible for educating our kids so we all can have a better future. However I wish we could come up with some other ways to help the schools, increasing taxes on sales and income should also be included along property taxes.
"What's the problem with digitalizing those 100 pages? Are you worried someone will find all the abuse with miss managed money?"
"Maybe that's because we're working long hours to pay high taxes. "
Actually, most of this information is digitized and readily available with a simple Google search.
It took me 1 search term to locate the Santa Clara County Office of Education Financial Statistical Report for 2009-2010, the City of Mountain View's budget report for 2012-2013, and the Mountain View Educational Foundation Annual Fiscal Report.
The problem isn't readily available information, and it isn't a lack of transparency by agencies. Rather those who are willing to spend time bemoaning the apparent lack of information on a local newspaper forum, haven't spent the 5 minutes needed to find information my 12 year old daughter could.
That being the case, it doesn't matter whether there are 2 or 2000 pages scanned and posted on the web. Voter apathy, and the consequential ignorance of the issues at hand won't change until people get out of their sedentary habit of consuming sound-bite "news" as their only source of information, and do just a minimal amount of work to inform themselves, before serving up an opinion.
The school teacher tsk tsk tsk tsking to the students. Shut up you don't know anything, I'll tell you the facts.
Fact is the on line reports say nothing.
But the spending beast has a representative on the forum
The on line reports say nothing? The district website has detailed budget reports, summaries as presented at board meetings, oversight info on the parcel tax. What, John, is missing? Easy to wag your finger at someone for daring to state facts, but please tell me exactly what information you dont have
Does the district publish what is pays its employees?
That's the data I want to see.
There is some data compiled by the Sac. Bee, they don't look overpaid, Los Altos has the highest paid, not surprising.
The District has vastly improved its on-line financial reporting in the last year. It had been buried in multi-megabyte 'scanned in' image files attached to the minutes. Unsearchable and hard-to-use. After complaints from the last CFO job candidates - it is now much better.
[what's 'excellent' ? the City will send you a working Excel spreadsheet if you ask Finance]
Parcel Tax Oversight, 1/4 million dollars for custodians is more important than "keep small class sizes" (class size reduction). Sorry for you citizens, taxpayers, teachers who thought you were getting that- but only one dissenting vote [which was ignored by full Board].
On the scale of things - this is only 1/10 of the last Parcel Tax and a very small part of the operating Budget.
Superintendent's pay has almost doubled in 10 years while teacher salaries have not even kept up with inflation.
Can you please show Otto where you found that info? He is sure the District does not provide it anywhere!
Hardin, I'm glad ur daughter pointed u in the right direction because u where clueless too, as can be seen from your first posting.
Steve, thanks for the link. I see a lot of Big numbers there, how can we get to the details. I see 3 million spent on consulting, how can we find out the details where exactly that is being spent.
Yin/Yang. Consulting in this district is 150% of the state-wide average. (try EdSource data plotting). Some of this was Bond consultants, much was architects (2 years ago) but also much was the Google grant funded EDI (and follow-up implementation monitoring). DI, Direct Instruction is a fundamental, 3Rs, back-to-basics type of teaching methodology. The advantage I see this time around, is a rigorous way of monitoring instructional change. Good, basic quality monitoring methodologies I saw the decades I was working in industry.
- Back to Bond passage - MV voters belief in the elementary district finances has fallen from a high of 80% in 2008 back to 67% now.
The 'cost-per-vote' in changing the minds of the December survey 'undecided" was:
NO $ 5/vote
So it cost 12 times as much to convince an undecided to vote YES! A higher fraction of the 'undecided' eventually were not convinced and voted NO. That's my spin on it.
250,000 dollars on custodian. Ok should we have our kids go to big dirty poor lit unpainted broken down schools. What does that say about Silicon Valley and all this wealth we created.
Should we not spend money on custodians? Should we have the teachers and students clean their own rooms (see Newt Gingrich)?
I believe the parcel tax line item presented at the board meeting was for more than one FTE Custodian.
Ask Trustee Wheeler. She among others has advocated for better custodial services as a teacher retention issue since the original measure J years ago.
Another 100 page budget document will be discussed on 21 June, I bet hardly any will attend.
Mr. Nelson -- City Finance is a much bigger, more sophisticated operation. MVWSD would need to spend more on "administration" in order to keep wonks who don't want to come out to meetings happy. Would a bigger accounting operation be a good use of Parcel Tax?
"- Back to Bond passage - MV voters belief in the elementary district finances has fallen from a high of 80% in 2008 back to 67% now.
The 'cost-per-vote' in changing the minds of the December survey 'undecided" was:
NO $ 5/vote
So it cost 12 times as much to convince an undecided to vote YES! A higher fraction of the 'undecided' eventually were not convinced and voted NO. That's my spin on it."
...Or perhaps the economic mood in 2008 (right before the housing bust) facilitated more folks to be willing to support their schools than people currently are after years of recession and high unemployment.
Its pretty common knowledge that well performing schools are not only good for the community families, but also do wonders for home values.
"No" campaigns really have to struggle to justify their stance, against this positive feedback loop. But during bad economic times, they have the advantage that less people are in the mood to spend money.
The fact that this measure passed, even with the economic outlook as negative as it is now, suggests this community values the education they are getting here, and want to maintain it.
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