As a taxpayer, a concerned parent and involved citizen of this school district, I find it very hard to endorse this parcel tax--especially since I participated in your phone poll, was amazed that there was only one vague question about how I felt about the district's performance in educating our kids, and know that a majority of people in this community are concerned with class size reduction and counselors first--along with the other issues of clean and safe campuses, arts, sciences and AP education funding, etc. Yet I am horrified that we, the taxpaying public, are being held hostage by this district, who have continued their poor track record of holding onto monies first, hiring more administrators and consultants second, and trickling miniscule amounts of leftover funds to school sites last.
Why is the wording of the parcel tax so vague? Why have you buried the two most important subjects in the bottom of the tax language? Do you remember the vocal and well attended board meetings in the beginning of this year and what the public was telling you then? Do you think their concerns have changed now? And why have you engineered the poll questions and community forum questions about this tax so that people would in fact be responding in one general area (literacy) when in reality they meant to respond to other concerns not necessarily totally about literacy. It's so easy to finesse poll responses to seem to agree with certain outcomes, isn't it?
I agree with Kevin and others you have no doubt heard from lately about the numerous Swiss Cheese holes in the verbage of the parcel tax, as well as the nonexistent oversight of how you plan to spend these monies. And I also question what happened to the MRAD monies that were supposed to cover keeping our campuses clean, the bond monies that were supposed to cover campus construction and upgrades, and the state monies that are supposed to cover textbooks and ninth grade class size reduction (not to mention class size reduction in the lower grades, which I recall from the board meetings in February and later you were figuring out how much money you would lose by increasing class size vs. how much spent on teachers and facilities for lowering it). Where are those monies? Have we been experiencing a bait and switch scheme where you take away those monies and fund more administrators and consultants with them? Or will you in fact take monies that are supposed to go towards these things
now, and when parcel tax monies come in will you take away more from already funded programs and instead use parcel tax monies for them (until those tax monies run out and you need to come begging for more from the taxpayers)? Where's the accountability?
How much teacher training do we need for God's sake?! Yes, teachers need training, but when your "laser-like focus on literacy" keeps getting out of focus--when you have so called "competent and new" literacy programs in place (that are anything but competent, have changed every few years, and instead are actually money pits to waste more district dollars on new textbook programs and hiring consultants on...why go the prudent and established route and accomplish more by cutting class sizes when you can throw more money away...).
Where is the leadership in this district? I'll answer that question...THERE IS NONE. There is only more self-serving, self-interested individuals interested in maintaining the status quo and keeping the public hoodwinked and kept out of any real decision making. That's exactly why this parcel tax may not pass ladies and gentlemen. The cash cow is ready to be milked once again, because you have more consultants and administrators waiting to be hired out there and an endless supply of gullible and blind taxpayers to pull the wool over while you throw empty crumbs and waive tempting carrots in front of. But perhaps these stupid taxpayers are finally tired of all the waste, untruthfullness and unaccountability.
And finally, the beautiful way you have constructed this conendrum is better than Machiavelli could have done--you have it twisted and strong armed the voters, just like gangsters do, because if the voting public does not pass this tax it will be entirely our fault that you will have to cut more programs and teachers! Far be it from you to take anything away from our children...you think you have no alternatives but to pass this tax. If you'd get off your lofty hights for one moment you could surprise the heck out of all of us and just listen to us stupid little people out here and cut out the fat in your own houses first, you could actually structure non-surprise last-minute board meetings where your adminstration has actually gotten you all the information (accurate information, I might add) well in advance instead of not at all or just before you have to vote on it. You would actually listen to the people who have voted you in office instead of all the well-placed special
interests, people and organizations you've made back room deals with, and the ever expanding masses of administrators and consultants. Instead of rearranging the same tired slate of people who aren't qualified for their jobs that you need to keep somewhere on the payroll, you might get rid of those who can't do the work and get people who will actually do the job they're hired to do in a competent manner and are more than just figureheads or who look good on a public relations printout.
I'm probably wasting my time because you've heard all these things so many times before anyway. What do I know--you're all the experts and you keep hiring more of them...we're just stupid little people who don't know anything except what you tell us!
From another person:
I appreciate your responses to my comments and I know they are heartfelt. The basic problem is that everytime this district gets in a financial jam and goes to bail itself out, it is always let us do whatever we want since it is for the children. For forty years this district has not worked effectively and that process continues. You gloss over Measure C, or describe your powerlessness on the board, but the fact remains that it was ill-timed and further created the high levels of suspicion that many of us have about the management that you hire and support.
When I read the wording of the parcel tax measure, it looks like a blank check. I won't suggest oversight or anything like that, since the poor Bond Oversight Committee has had to pull teeth to get any level of real information and accountability out of your management. I love Bill and the fresh air he has brought to the process, but I once thought Vince would help change the culture.
The measure lists specific activities that the parcel tax moneys can be used for, but what stops the district management doing a shell game and use this money for the listed activities but take other money away that had previously supported these items. I am still trying to figure out how MRAD funds are being spent effectively.
It is about local schools but the district's governance process does everything in its power to discourage real grass roots schools with true neighborhood involvement. Just talk to the principals at the schools and you begin to understand how top down the entire process is and how little real input the neighborhood schools have in their destiny.
It is interesting that you compare us to Iraq. There we had a country where the people were not enamoured with their dictator but also do not love the USA. What they want is stability,true self-rule and then for us to leave. Of course, I would love to have the district leave and once again have true neighborhood schools with local control.
I know that the money will keep basic services that we all want and the list in the Measure is certainly that. But, at some point maybe there will need to be suffering before this district is changed for the long-term betterment of the community. If the parcel tax passes it will continue to be business as usual for the district and that is the truest disservice to our children.
For me this is very sad. Until your last bond measure, I have never voted against a school measure in my thirty-five years of voting. However, this district is fast changing my views. I don't feel a desire to support an organization that only increases my feeling of being on the outside and continues to push parents away.
As always thanks for caring and serving our children as best you can.
From Glen Price:
......I'll embed a couple of comments in your message below.
> I agree with you that lack of funding will have a major negative impact on the children and the teachers and can understand the quandary you are facing. However, continuing to give this district a blank check to spend money will have a bigger negative impact over the long haul. If there was real accountability in this district and if there was equal political representation throughout the district, I would have a different view.
> Instead, we are faced with a last minute decision where no one gets to see the final document until it is too late and can only hope that the money is being spent wisely. (This is playing out like the last bond measure.)....>
No question that the timeline has been very compressed and, if I was ruler of the world, we would not have done Measure C to have allowed us more time to work on this. But my experience on the board has taught me that one needs to start from where we are and try and move forward. Given everything, I am fairly happy with the process that we have utilized. If one were to judge by quantity alone, my email box would attest to the fact that we have received a lot of input.
You raise probably the central question --do we wait for "real accountability" and "equal political representation" before we seek the funds our kids' schools need or do we seek funds now? Everyone who is interested in the reform of this district needs to answer this for him/herself. I promised myself during the last budget process that I would not go through a major process of cuts again without at least trying to raise revenue.
> To me parcel taxes are all about local schools. Yet this district has destroyed the whole concept of local schools and community linkage to their schools. Instead all power and money flows to the district and then dribbles back to the local schools. How can I go out and get people to support the parcel tax when there is no real feeling for how it will really help a person's individual school.>
You can tell them that without the parcel tax key necessities, like counselors, are endangered.
> I believe that we could pass a large parcel tax in Pinole for our schools if the citizens felt the money that they spend will be used appropriately in Pinole. Unfortunately, this process, with its poor timing and flawed communication is doomed to failure.>
You might be right. However, many people including a number of Pinole residents are working hard to seek passage of the tax. For the sake of the kids we are serving right now, I hope we are successful. I don't have the figures besides me at the moment but the poll showed a large number of the residents of Pinole to be supportive of the tax.
> One only needs to look at how the redistricting process is unfolding to see how flawed the management structure of this district is. I have never been so concerned about the future of our schools as I am now.
> It appears that until this district runs into a brick wall, the same structure of anti-community will prevail and we will continue to live with severely flawed leadership.>
I didn't support the decision to send American troops to Iraq. However, given that they are there, I think it is incumbent upon us to provide them with the best tools and equipment possible.
Even though there are many things in our district that I feel must be changed, I know that the crisis in resources that we are facing will hit our kids the hardest and they will be the real losers if we don't raise additional revenues.
From another person:
They are really leaning on me to support this tax, but I am having a difficult time justifying it. They never hear the parents questions, pleas or comments. They do not take into consideration the needs to run the sites, they only seem to worry about downtown. I do want to support the teachers and the students. What is going to happen to these kids and their education.
I'm still on the fence because I look at the kids and it makes me want to cry.
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