School Board Leans Toward 444 Dollar Parcel Tax

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The School Board did not have a vote on Thursday night, but there is clear support at this point for putting another parcel tax measure on the ballot this November that, while falling short of the bold initiative put forward by Trustee Richard Harris, would enable the district to stay afloat during a time that more than one board member called the most fiscally troubling so far.

As Richard Harris explained on Thursday night, the $642 proposal was actually three pieces rolled into one.  The first component would be restoring the 2012-13 staffing that was cut as the result of the $3.5 million structural gap.  After the DTA balked at concessions, that resulted in 50 layoffs.

Mr. Harris estimated that in order to restore that staffing it would be $198 per parcel.

The second component would be the renewal of Measure A at $204 per parcel.

The third part would be a buffer in case Governor Brown’s tax measure does not pass this fall.  That would result in a more than $4 million shortfall for the district with the ensuing trigger cuts, and the district believes it would require a $240 parcel tax to restore that funding.

The third portion would only kick in if the state voters fail to pass the tax.  While polling shows the tax is ahead, the margin is precarious and most analysts believe that the measure will fail.  Chief Business officer Associate Superintendent Bruce Colby agreed during his lengthy budget discussion.

While Mr. Harris pressed the board for his “big bang theory,” his fellow board members balked at going for it all.  Specifically, they did not think it was tenable to attempt to restore the 2012-13 staffing cuts.  However, they did not preclude specific restorations and everyone supported the idea of a Measure A renewal (somewhat reluctantly in some cases) and the contingency for the loss of state triggered fund reductions.

Superintendent Winfred Roberson said he came to this district primarily because this is a community that supports education.

“We have the test scores to prove that local support makes a difference in the education system,” he said.

“Now we have past, present, and future budget reductions that threaten it, actually creating a fiscal crisis for Davis Joint Unified School District, yet there’s an opportunity for local control,” Mr. Roberson said.  “We’ve made cuts in the district…  I strongly advocate that you cannot cut your way to excellence.”

“I commend the board for having just the courage to look for ways to bring in revenue to our district,” he added.

Richard Harris said that while he needs to leave the board to spend time with his family and working on his business, he feels like there is a lot that the board did not get to accomplish.

He said that 2007, when he was first elected to the board, it was the last year they had a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment).  “I’ve had to see the excellence in education slip away from us,” he said.  “Yet, every time we saw it slip away we looked internally within our community to try to find something to do locally to help solve whatever the problem of the day was.”

He mentioned the recent efforts and angst over trying to get Measure A and then Measure C passed, the ability of the community to step up with one-time money through the Davis Schools Foundation, and all of these efforts to protect what he called the “Davis way.”

“We do all these things and yet we still have a problem,” he said.  “Because since 2007, we’re being hit close to $12 million a year that we’re not getting.  It keeps getting taken away from us and we’re just constantly filling up that hole – not because we want to take people’s taxes, not because we’re in some way trying to create some monster government bureaucracy – we do it because it’s for our children.”

“I believe that our children deserve the most excellent education that we can give them,” Mr. Harris added.

He said as he was pondering whether to run again, he decided, “I’m not going to run, instead I’m going to put all of my time and energy into trying to go back to the voter and explain to the voters, this is the program of Davis Joint Unified School District, this is how much it costs, this is the impending doom that is coming and let’s try to figure out a way together to try to fix all of that.”

Within the proposal is a streamlined senior exemption which would automatically roll previous exemptions over so there is no need for those who have previously taken the exemption to have to fill out paperwork – not only does this streamline the process but it avoids potential pitfalls that befell the Measure A campaign.

It will also contain an exemption for those on SSI.  And the Multi-unit rate remains at $20.

He told the board, there is no need to conduct a poll.  They know where the public stands from previous polling, as well as from the results of the previous parcel tax elections.

Tim Taylor, who supported the full concept and in the past has argued that the board and district were not asking for enough, was not there to make his case.  The other three members of the board, however, were not willing to go all the way to restoring the cuts.

Trustee Gina Daleiden argued that there were three components to do the right thing and she does not believe it is realistic or right to consider only one of those components – cuts, concessions, and the community.

“I definitely applaud your relentless optimism,” Ms. Daleiden told her colleague.

“In this case we think about the community in terms of a local parcel tax, we can think about that as a piece, I don’t know exactly what that number is,” she said.  “You’re throwing out a very big number.  I don’t know that it’s very realistic to think we’re going to get that big of a number because it relies on just that one leg of the stool.”

On the other hand, she said when we look at cuts of up to $7.5 million that look like disaster for DJUSD, she argued that they can’t put it all in cuts.

“I don’t think that we end up with the same school district that we have now, then if we put it all in cuts,” she said.  “Nobody would want that.”

She said that they are going to have to consider some “rather big rather scary” cuts and changes to the district, “But cuts to do all of it would be pretty horrific.”

Ms. Daleiden would argue, however, that she does not believe that the community at large would want to include the restoration of last year’s cuts in the measure.

She also addressed concerns about the fact that Measure A funding was billed as an emergency measure.

“Sheila [Allen] and I spent awhile saying that was an emergency parcel tax,” she said.  “That was absolutely what I believed at the time.  Things have only gotten worse.  It’s almost unpredictably worse.   If we’re going to say, look, game has changed, we have new information and our first job is to protect the school district as best we can, then I’m willing to talk about continuing what you are already paying to bridge us through some additional time.”

Ms. Daleiden saw the state trigger money as a critical question of local control.

Measure A plus the trigger cut money adds up to $444.  “That’s steep,” she said.  “I don’t know if Davis has the capacity to do that.”

However, it was pointed out that $204 of that $444 is already in place and the other $240 only goes in place if the statewide tax loses.

For Gina Daleiden, the starting place for the discussion looks about like that.

Susan Lovenberg and Sheila Allen ultimately agree.  Susan Lovenberg argued that she was opposed to restoring what has been cut.

One of the tricky aspects of this parcel tax is that the tax, even if passed in November, would not take effect until the 2013-14 tax year.  That means if the trigger cuts occur as the statewide measure fails, the district would have to bridge their loss of $4 million for six months.

Part of that bridge would hopefully be some temporary concessions, but there is a real possibility the district would have to cut three weeks’ worth of instruction (15 days) from the school calendar.

Sheila Allen argued it was not realistic to restore everything that was cut from 2012-13.  “That’s just not realistic,” she said.  “It’s too big of a number.”

She said we need to have a discussion about what is the cost of public education in Davis.

“This actually is not the whole cost, because we have made ongoing cuts,” she said.

Sheila Allen referenced a letter to the editor that the parcel tax should be voluntary or the parents should be asked to pay for it.

“I’m sorry but that’s the difference between public and private education,” she said plainly.  “Public education means that we as a community all chip in together to fund education.”

Sheila Allen said “I swear when I was doing Measure A, I was very clear, two years emergency funding.  The fact is, the emergency has not gone away.  That’s the problem.”

Sue Lovenburg added, “It has actually increased.”

Sheila Allen says it’s now clear that the emergency has not gone away and she is there for Measure A renewal.

She said in terms of the state triggered funding reduction, “I cannot fathom where we would make those kinds of cuts looking at what we already cut in this district.  I just cannot fathom what this district would look like if we had to make those kinds of cuts.”

“I am mindful that this is a really heavy lift,” Board President Susan Lovenburg said.  “I value all of the reasons why you are proposing what you’re proposing,” she said speaking to Richard Harris.  “I’m following a lot of that way, I think, because most of us understand what the alternative is.”

In the end, they made no decision.  They will have a special meeting next week.  We will lay out the budget on a later date for the public to see.  It is hard to imagine that the budget would look this bleak, particularly if the tax measure does not pass in November, five years into an economic downturn, but it is ugly and it is particularly ugly because of how much the district has reduced in spending from 2007 until now.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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63 thoughts on “School Board Leans Toward 444 Dollar Parcel Tax”

  1. E Roberts Musser

    It makes sense to me there is still an emergency situation in regard to school funding because of the state’s continuing dire fiscal situation. I think it is reasonable to take the position of increasing the school parcel tax if and only if the “statewide tax loses”. But beyond that, I doubt the public would support any greater increase in the school parcel tax. These are tough times, and everyone has to tighten their proverbial belts, including the schools. IMHO, Richard Harris’ more extreme and expensive school parcel tax proposal would be DOA if it ever was seriously contemplated…

  2. 91 Octane

    Lovenberg: She said we need to have a discussion about what is the cost of public education in Davis.

    in other words, we should just get a blank check.

  3. David M. Greenwald

    [quote] I think it is reasonable to take the position of increasing the school parcel tax if and only if the “statewide tax loses”. But beyond that, I doubt the public would support any greater increase in the school parcel tax.[/quote]

    At this point it appears that’s what the district may do – [i][u][b]increase [/b][/u][/i]the parcel tax if and only is the statewide loses.

  4. David M. Greenwald

    Octane: You’ll have to explain how a defined parcel tax, with a set and known quantity is a blank check. A blank check by definition means the district would get to set the rate at whatever they want. The parcel tax puts a defined number and requires approval of two-thirds of the voters. That is by definition not a blank check.

  5. medwoman

    91 Octane

    [quote]Lovenberg: She said we need to have a discussion about what is the cost of public education in Davis.
    in other words, we should just get a blank check. [/quote]

    I interpreted Ms Lovenberg’s statement quite differently from you. What I interpreted this to mean is that she favors a full discussion of the cost of a public education in Davis so it is clear to all how the money is actually spent allowing an informed choice of how much we are willing to pay. Is this not what we ask of our public officials when we talk about “transparency”?

  6. 91 Octane

    vanguard: – If the school board asks for unlimited numbers of those parcel tax increases – for all practical purposes they are getting a blank check.

  7. medwoman

    91 Octane

    [quote]medwoman: they had discussions on previous parcel taxes and said how much can we get?[/quote]

    I am sorry. I don’t understand your question. Would you rephrase ?

  8. 91 Octane

    you can see it in Harris proposal – he threw out some huge dollar figure and believe me, if he thought he could get away with it – he would have asked for more. And if the other board members thought it could happen, they would support it too.

  9. 91 Octane

    medwoman: when they were discussing the previous parcel taxes – they had discussions among themselves. And it came out in those discussions they were trying to figure out the largest dollar amount they thought they could get.

  10. medwoman

    91 Octane

    [quote]medwoman: when they were discussing the previous parcel taxes – they had discussions among themselves. And it came out in those discussions they were trying to figure out the largest dollar amount they thought they could get.[/quote]

    Thanks, I see what you mean. As anticipated, I also see that differently than you do.
    I don’t know your background in terms of administration or sitting on boards, so I am not aware of what your level of experience is with attempting to get funding.

    I have been a midlevel manager in my department for about six years and have sat on several advisory boards.
    I say this so that you know that my experience in this area while far from extensive, is not negligible.

    My view is the following. When seeking funding, one has not only to consider how much one would optimally like, but also what one actually needs to do the job, and what the group providing the funding is able to pay.
    The funding that one actually gets will never be what one would dream of. It does have to be within the funders ability to pay and sufficient to do the job. It would be nice, if one were to get a little more than just enough to accomplish the bare bones minimum, especially if you see areas where a new project or program would be helpful to the group as a whole in the long run. So it is usual to ask for an amount that is more than the barebones necessity, but still anticipated to be within the ability of the funding group to afford. There is nothing dishonest or dishonorable or underhanded about this practice as long as the rationale for what you are seeking is clearly explained so that the funders can evaluate the merit of your request.

  11. David M. Greenwald

    “vanguard: – If the school board asks for unlimited numbers of those parcel tax increases – for all practical purposes they are getting a blank check.”

    No each one has to be approved by 2/3rd of the voters and is finite in scope, that by definition is not a blank check.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    “medwoman: they had discussions on previous parcel taxes and said how much can we get?”

    They figured out what the budget shortfall would be, polled and then made a determination to ask for something that they had a reasonable likelihood for getting. Not all of them agreed with that approach. Tim Taylor argued that they weren’t asking for enough – they weren’t.

  13. David M. Greenwald

    “you can see it in Harris proposal – he threw out some huge dollar figure and believe me, if he thought he could get away with it – he would have asked for more.”

    Actually that is a fairly substantial mischaracterization of what he did. There are three distinct pieces of money: the cuts from this year which is the $2.5 structural deficit, the Measure A funds, and the Trigger Cuts.

    Those are the three pieces of shortfall the district has.

  14. 91 Octane

    vanguard: “polled and then made a determination to ask for something that they had a reasonable likelihood for getting.”

    in other words, the largest dollar amount they thought they could get away with.

  15. David M. Greenwald

    If you were advising someone, they need $500, but the polling only shows voters willing to pass at $200, what do you advise your client to put on the ballot?

  16. 91 Octane

    vanguard: “No each one has to be approved by 2/3rd of the voters and is finite in scope, that by definition is not a blank check.”

    what they want and what they are ultimately able to get are two different things. and what they want is a blank check.

  17. E Roberts Musser

    I think some of the frustration in the community is w past practices, e.g. building more schools than needed, closing Valley Oak, the payment to a Supt. that wasn’t working, the Tahir Assad (sp?) scandal, etc. But unfortunately, we have a new day and a new dawn from a fiscal perspective. The schools are dependent on money from the state, and far less state funding is being doled out to the schools. That is plain, hard reality. So does Davis pay to keep its schools in good form, or let them go to seed for lack of funding? Only the voters can say just how much they are willing to shell out to the schools… and voters pockets are being pinched too…

  18. David M. Greenwald

    HPierce: I think the $642 is what they immediately need, though given that the teachers didn’t make concessions, it’s easy to argue that $444 is what they may in fact need if the taxes do not pass in November.

  19. 91 Octane

    vanguard: “Actually that is a fairly substantial mischaracterization of what he did. There are three distinct pieces of money: the cuts from this year which is the $2.5 structural deficit, the Measure A funds, and the Trigger Cuts.”

    actually it was not a mischaracterization:
    Harris: “If you want a gold standard of education you gotta pay for it,” he added. “That’s what I think we deserve and that’s what I’m going to ask the people for.”

    Sounds pretty arrogant to me, and sounds like he doesn’t merely want money simply to hold onto necessary positions – apparently, we need a “gold standard” – gold bars that is. Well in an economic crisis you can’t have a gold standard – you have to look at the basics.

    and lets not forget the the wads of cash the DSF hands over.

  20. David M. Greenwald

    The wads of cash as you put it are one time monies that help to shore up leakage from budget cuts. At most they are replacing for one year, 20% of what was cut this spring.

    “Sounds pretty arrogant to me, and sounds like he doesn’t merely want money simply to hold onto necessary positions – apparently, we need a “gold standard” – gold bars that is. Well in an economic crisis you can’t have a gold standard – you have to look at the basics. “

    He views the product of the district as the gold standard. You’re correct that in an economic crisis they are not going to get the gold standard, and they are not asking for it. they are asking for enough to avoid further cuts, they have already conceded cutting six to eight million from 2007.

  21. Michael Harrington

    Nice to see Harris with some strategy on this one.

    Thank goodness the water referendum passed and the bogus rates were repealed, or the DJUSD would never get another tax through the voters.

    BTW DJUSD: none of you helped me in October 2011 with taking a stand on the huge water rate increases. But you still have a chance to help the kids: ask the CC to not put a water project and new rate increases on the November ballot. Clearly staff and the WAC are being pushed too fast by the current CC majority that gave us the 4/1 vote on Sept 6 for the fraudulent rate increases.

    The DJUSD simply cannot sit here and let the CC majority ram through another water project that is ill-conceived with rates that make no sense and we are supposed to vote for them without enough analysis.

    If the DJUSD tax increases, and the water rate increase come up on the same ballot, I suspect the average voter is going to say NO to both of them.

    Mr. Harris: think about it. Do you want your new parcel tax for the kids to be on the same ballot with what is going to be a highly contentious huge new water project that many of us believe is unneeded and a waste of money, at least for now?

  22. Hmmmm...

    Until I hear how the DJUSD Admistration is applying their administrative skills and training to bear on this issue of providing a “gold standard of education” to our students under these finanical circumstances, I don’t feel like giving DJUSD any more money. I could come up with the plan of “preseving programs at all cost” and you wouldn’t have to pay me six figures. I expect more from people with specialized training and who are paid to figure this stuff out.

    For example, maybe audition-only high school classes where only 20-25 students made the cut, should be suspended/modified for a few years, so they are full at 32 or 35 students. Maybe our Superintendent should be networking with the 5 local community colleges, UC, and State college that are all within 10-30 minutes of DHS, to figure out how to meet some of our AP needs through these other institutions. Has anyone asked if there any perienneially under-enrolled classes at Sac City’s Davis campus that DHS students could fill? Like Calculus or statistics?

  23. Michael Harrington

    Mayor Joe and Members of the CC:

    Only Sue listened to us last Fall about the water project and rates, and the CC was willing to hugely jack up the rates with the bills arriving in our mail boxes just before the expected DJUSD parcel tax renewal ballot. The new water rates would have killed the school tax renewal.

    Here, you have another shot at doing the right thing. Please: give the WAC more time to sort things out and present a really great project or plan; give the community time to study it, and buy in; and give the DJUSD and new Harris Plan a shot at the November ballot without a competing huge new water rate increase that would certainly come with any sort of project.

    Dear Jim Burchill and the Trade Unions: please tell your elected officials you want the kids in Davis to have a shot at passing an appropriate parcel tax in November, and to not put the wate project on the November ballot.

  24. hpierce

    [quote]HPierce: I think the $642 is what they immediately need, [b]though given that the teachers didn’t make concessions[/b], it’s easy to argue that $444 is what they may in fact need if the taxes do not pass in November. [/quote]Did you accidentally reverse the two figures? If not, I’m having a ‘disconnect’.

  25. wdf1

    Hmmm…: [i]For example, maybe audition-only high school classes where only 20-25 students made the cut, should be suspended/modified for a few years, so they are full at 32 or 35 students.[/i]

    I’m unaware of any audition only classes that are at 20-25. Can you name some?

    [i]Maybe our Superintendent should be networking with the 5 local community colleges, UC, and State college that are all within 10-30 minutes of DHS, to figure out how to meet some of our AP needs through these other institutions. Has anyone asked if there any perienneially under-enrolled classes at Sac City’s Davis campus that DHS students could fill? Like Calculus or statistics?[/i]

    Have you tried enrolling at a community college recently? Classes are impacted. If you haven’t already registered for the fall, then there is almost nothing for you.

    CC’s, UC’s, and CSU’s are under the gun from the state to get their students out on time with limited resources. There is no incentive for them to accommodate HS students who haven’t yet graduated. DHS can easily fill their calculus and stats classes.

  26. medwoman

    Hmmmm

    [quote]Maybe our Superintendent should be networking with the 5 local community colleges, UC, and State college that are all within 10-30 minutes of DHS, to figure out how to meet some of our AP needs through these other institutions.[/quote]

    There may be more of this approach going on than is apparent to the general public. My son who because of a serious medical illness combined with motivational issues was far behind in class work and at risk of not graduating with his class, was allowed to put together a rather non orthodox mix of classes some at DaVinci,
    some through independent study and some on line classes sponsored by various educational institutions. This enabled him to graduate on time with his class. He is now successfully enrolled in community college where I can guarantee you, due to their own financial cutbacks, do not have classes spaces sitting around empty to be filled. As a matter of fact, through no fault of his own since he has been diligent in getting classes and doing the work ( he now has a 3.8 GPA) it is going to take him closer to three than two years to complete all the requirements to transfer in to his desired department at Cal simply because he cannot get into all the classes he needs.

  27. medwoman

    91 Octane

    [quote]and what they want is a blank check. [/quote]

    You have used this phrase several times. I am wondering if you have any evidence to support that this is true of the current school board ? I am also wondering if you have any specific thoughts about my response to the question you had addressed to me.

  28. Hmmmm...

    “I’m unaware of any audition only classes that are at 20-25. Can you name some?”

    This is what I’ve heard from parents of music students–Madricals, in some years, only 20 students are good enough.

    With respect to the community college situation — sounds like a bad idea that won’t work. Should we give up being creative because of one idea from someone with no training won’t work? Remember at a minimum DJUSD administrators have attended school themselves for 13 years, attended college +4, received a credential +1, received a masters in administration +2, and have had countless professional credits. That’s 20+ of school experience. And there is absolutely nothing they can do? They are victims of the school board and the teacher’s union?

    I am just saying I’d like to hear some of the ideas that were considered, whether they would work or not. I read the Enterprise and Davis Vanguard and my children attend DJUSD schools, so I get District and school emails. I also hear parent gossip, since DJUSD is not transparent or forthwright. For example, I have never seen the numbers of students enrolled in fall’s AP Physics and the number enrolled in spring AP Physics, but I hear from other parents that their child dropped the class. And honestly, I would have to see some data to beleive you that Sac City College and Woodland City College physics classes are at capacity.

  29. wdf1

    Hmmm…: [i]This is what I’ve heard from parents of music students–Madricals, in some years, only 20 students are good enough.[/i]

    I’ve seen Madrigals at 30-32 for the past 2-3 years.

    [i]And honestly, I would have to see some data to beleive you that Sac City College and Woodland City College physics classes are at capacity.[/i]

    Easy enough. You can pick up the phone, call, and ask if they have any physics sections that are open for the fall. You can probably call right this moment.

    [i]I also hear parent gossip, since DJUSD is not transparent or forthwright. For example, I have never seen the numbers of students enrolled in fall’s AP Physics and the number enrolled in spring AP Physics, but I hear from other parents that their child dropped the class.[/i]

    In September, submit a public information request at the district office asking for enrollments in their physics classes. A taxpayer funded entity, such as DJUSD, has an obligation to provide that kind of information on request.

  30. Hmmmm...

    wdf….”In September, submit a public information request at the district office asking for enrollments in their physics classes. A taxpayer funded entity, such as DJUSD, has an obligation to provide that kind of information on request.”

    I guess I’m not being clear. You want to discuss specific solution, when I have acknowleged that I don’t work in the field. I am trying to give examples of topics that would interest me, that I think the Enterprise, etc., should be covering and that the District should be communicating before I am will be comfortable with another huge tax. I do not KNOW that the Administration has done all they can. It sounds like you KNOW something I do not know. I wish I had your confidence. I want your confidence. How does a person get that?

    With respect to commmunity colleges, I just now went online to Sac City college’s course search and there are several physics classes that have wait list availabilty, which suggests the motivated student would get in, and Electomagnism clases are open. There is even a Calculus class at the Davis Center that has no waitlist. http://dcs.losrios.edu/dcs_classsearch.aspx

    What would happen if DHS offered only regular college prep physics and students who wanted AP physics took it elsewhere? Would the absolute number of students who complete a physics class stay the same, increase or decrease? My guess is that the absolute number of students who take physics would increase because you wouldn’t have the

  31. rusty49

    Hmmmm….
    You’re making too much sense. If you’re new to this board you’re going to find some posters that have never seen a school parcel tax that they didn’t like and will defend it all the way. I have to laugh at this new tax proposal. Many told us that we must pass the last Measure C school tax of $320 because Measure A was going away so in essence we were only getting a $120 raise in our parcel tax. They like to play with the numbers. When they were confronted with responses that that tax would be renewed some assured us that wasn’t going to happen. Well here it is, not only a renewal but a $244 increase to $444 of that tax being slapped on homeowners in addition to the $320 that was just passed. They’ll say that it will increase home values but fail to realize that it might actually hurt them because potential home buyers will see the huge tax liability and buy elsewhere. But don’t fret for them, if they want their kids can still go to Davis schools, they just won’t be paying the high school taxes but you will.

  32. medwoman

    Hmmmm….

    [quote]I do not KNOW that the Administration has done all they can. It sounds like you KNOW something I do not know. I wish I had your confidence. I want your confidence. How does a person get that? [/quote]

    I think that you pose very valid questions. As someone whose children are no longer in the DJUSD but did go through this system, I will share with you what I ultimately discovered, unfortunately, just in time to save my son from missing out on a year and possibly becoming discouraged enough to drop out. I wish I had taken this to heart earlier. This is a large, bureaucratic system. My son’s problems while devastating to him and very challenging to me, were, since he was very respectful and not a trouble maker, not high on the list of priorities of the school staff who were doing the best they could but were overwhelmed with more serious problems.
    What ultimately gave me more confidence was learning how to be an effective advocate for my son. I learned that it takes persistence and getting to personally know the personel who can affect your child’s future. It sometimes takes writing your questions down and hand delivering them or emailing them to the appropriate individual and not stopping until you have a response. If your questions are best addressed at the School Board level, that is the place I would take them, in person if necessary. When doing this it is important to have thought through very carefully what it is that you actually need to know and present it succinctly. If you have ideas on how to address something, most public officials are keenly aware of their limitations and restrictions and are happy to at least consider constructive ideas whether from experts, or sometimes from someone with no experience in their field but who may present a foreign, but very useful idea that can be modified to their field. I think that the best way to gain confidence in any process is to become more familiar with its workings.
    It is very time intensive, but can be critical to the welfare of a child and by extension maybe to all of our children.

    One other thing that you may or may not have already done is to present a list of topics that you would like to see covered to both the Enterprise and the Vanguard. I do not know how the Enterprise chooses its topics to cover, but I do know that David considers community suggestions for topics to cover in depth

  33. Michael Harrington

    Come on, VOTER 2012, Ryan Kelly, Jim Burchill, and the others who want that Woodland JPA Taj Mahal built at any cost, even if it screws the school parcel tax plan that Harris is working on: you guys are sooooo quiet. Give me some comments. Why dont you tell us that November is the best and preferred ballot for the $300 million and up water plant?

    Or, do the right thing, and tell your political friends to back off from November and give the kids a shot at a stable school system and class size?

    Come on, tell us where you are now?

    Best always, Michael

  34. wdf1

    rusty49: [i]They’ll say that it will increase home values but fail to realize that it might actually hurt them because potential home buyers will see the huge tax liability and buy elsewhere. But don’t fret for them, if they want their kids can still go to Davis schools, they just won’t be paying the high school taxes but you will.[/i]

    Davis homes have retained more of their value than homes in most cities (maybe all, but I haven’t checked) the Sacramento area. (see [url]zillow.com[/url]) I don’t see that it is driving away potential homebuyers in any way that is reflected in home prices.

  35. Mr.Toad

    “You’re making too much sense. If you’re new to this board you’re going to find some posters that have never seen a school parcel tax that they didn’t like and will defend it all the way.”

    Yep like me. I would support it even if it was $666 instead of $444. Why? Simply because i have a kids in school.

  36. wdf1

    Okay. Screwed up the link. zillow.com for Davis ([url]http://www.zillow.com/local-info/CA-Davis-home-value/r_51659/#metric=mt=34&dt=1&tp=6&rt=8&r=51659,268058,417359,417361&el=0[/url])

    Davis homes have retained more of their value than homes in most cities (maybe all, but I haven’t checked) in the Sacramento area. The magic number appears to be 72%. According to zillow.com, the median price of a home in Davis peaked in 2005 at $592K. The May 2012 median price was $430K. Current home prices in Davis, by that measure, have retained 72% of peak value.

    Davis: 72%

    For other cities/communities:
    Woodland: 46%
    Winters: 50%
    Dixon: 42%
    Sacramento: 41%
    Sacramento, Pocket neighborhood: 52%
    Elk Grove: 45%
    Folsom: 58%
    Rocklin: 53%
    Roseville: 55%
    Granite Bay: 61%
    Santa Cruz: 68%
    Santa Barbara: 61%

  37. Michael Harrington

    Thank the No on Measure X campaign for stopping Covell Village. If it had been approved. Those builders would all be bankrupt now, and our home prices would have dropped even more Maybe the Chamber PAC should give us an award?

  38. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]What ultimately gave me more confidence was learning how to be an effective advocate for my son. I learned that it takes persistence and getting to personally know the personel who can affect your child’s future. It sometimes takes writing your questions down and hand delivering them or emailing them to the appropriate individual and not stopping until you have a response. If your questions are best addressed at the School Board level, that is the place I would take them, in person if necessary. When doing this it is important to have thought through very carefully what it is that you actually need to know and present it succinctly. If you have ideas on how to address something, most public officials are keenly aware of their limitations and restrictions and are happy to at least consider constructive ideas whether from experts, or sometimes from someone with no experience in their field but who may present a foreign, but very useful idea that can be modified to their field. I think that the best way to gain confidence in any process is to become more familiar with its workings.
    It is very time intensive, but can be critical to the welfare of a child and by extension maybe to all of our children. [/quote]

    I’m glad you were able to get the help you needed. I had the opposite experience w school administrators. However, that was a number of years ago, and I have been told things have improved. I certainly hope so.

  39. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Come on, VOTER 2012, Ryan Kelly, Jim Burchill, and the others who want that Woodland JPA Taj Mahal built at any cost, even if it screws the school parcel tax plan that Harris is working on: you guys are sooooo quiet. Give me some comments. Why dont you tell us that November is the best and preferred ballot for the $300 million and up water plant? [/quote]

    Since there is likely to always be a school parcel tax/continuation of the school parcel tax/emergency increase in the school parcel tax on the horizon, I take it you are suggesting we never build a water plant because it will always interfere w the passage of some sort of school parcel tax measure?

  40. David M. Greenwald

    ” I had the opposite experience w school administrators. However, that was a number of years ago, and I have been told things have improved. I certainly hope so.”

    I have had nothing but good experiences dealing with the district attempting to help our nephew.

  41. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]I have had nothing but good experiences dealing with the district attempting to help our nephew.[/quote]

    That’s great… but your kids have been in the Davis schools for a relatively short time and you have a long way to go. My guess is at some point you are going to find dealing w the school system extremely frustrating… just my prediction…

  42. medwoman

    Elaine

    [quote]I’m glad you were able to get the help you needed. I had the opposite experience w school administrators. However, that was a number of years ago, and I have been told things have improved. I certainly hope so.[/quote]

    I truly believe that things have improved. However, I also believe that we should not detract from the amount of money it takes and the number of “administrators” it takes in order for them to be truly effective. Also, in my case, I had sufficient flexibility in my job to be able to take time off to go to the schools and “lobby” for my son. At one point, I literally politely, but firmly, refused to leave the office until I had spoken personally to Matt Best which was how I got my son into DaVinci. Countless hours later including individual counseling, meetings with instructors, his individual counselor, IEP meetings, and my son was back on track. I do not think that people realize how very time consuming it can be to save just one child, or how many children are in need of intervention. I truly feel for the parents who do not have the ability to take off early from work, of the sheer
    bravado to insist that they must speak to someone who they know to be extremely busy themself, or to have the time to volunteer thus ensuring that they know school personel and can therefore more effectively make their case.

  43. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Based on what? Your experience with the district several years ago with different board, admin, and personnel?[/quote]

    As a former teacher and in speaking to parents here in Davis. And by the way, your kids haven’t gone through junior high and high school yet. Just wait… at some point you are bound to get frustrated… it is inevitable…

    [quote]At one point, I literally politely, but firmly, refused to leave the office until I had spoken personally to Matt Best which was how I got my son into DaVinci. Countless hours later including individual counseling, meetings with instructors, his individual counselor, IEP meetings, and my son was back on track. I do not think that people realize how very time consuming it can be to save just one child, or how many children are in need of intervention.[/quote]

    And part of that is because schools don’t tend to address the needs of kids who do not fit into a neat little cubby hole/fit the mold. Any student who has learning disabilities but is well behaved is going to tend to get shoved to the side unless and until a parent vigorously advocates on behalf of that child. Sometimes bright and cooperative children are forced to languish at the pace the rest of the students are taking bc the teacher doesn’t want to be bothered dealing with the bright child. Frankly, in my experience it is the loudest parent who gets the assistance, if any assistance at all. It shouldn’t be that way. If a student has a problem, the problem needs to be addressed. There are many ways to do it that don’t involve special and expensive programs…

  44. Mr.Toad

    “If a student has a problem, the problem needs to be addressed. There are many ways to do it that don’t involve special and expensive programs…”

    Sometimes there are sometimes there aren’t.

  45. Mr.Toad

    “Frankly, in my experience it is the loudest parent who gets the assistance, if any assistance at all.”

    Well who would you expect to advocate if not the parent? Do you expect a child would even know they have a problem or how to be their own advocate? Sometimes a person employed by a school will make the referral or inform the parent but with large class sizes things get missed and the larger the class size the more things get missed so blaming an underfunded institution is an abdication of both a financial and moral responsibility. if your kid has a problem you need to be on top of it. You need to be in contact with your kids teachers even if there isn’t a problem so you can find out quickly if one arises. If one arises you need to be an advocate and stay on top of the implementation of the remedy. If the remedy isn’t being effectively implemented you need further intervention. If you are unhappy with the response of the school to your request for further intervention you probably need a lawyer or a new school.

    It is tragic how long ago the incidents happened that many here refer to in their posts. It is impossible to un-ring the bell of history. The problems of today are what need to be addressed. This constant rehashing of things from long ago that may have little relevance to the people and concerns of today are not productive beyond their value as personal therapy.

    How do we manage class sizes that are too large? How do we make sure that each child has their needs addressed? What sacrifices need to be made and who needs to make them? These are the questions that need to be debated and answered.

  46. David M. Greenwald

    I think Elaine’s experience is based on things from 20 years ago and that she really needs to get back into the classroom and observe things if she is going to continue to weigh in on these matters.

  47. medwoman

    Elaine

    [quote]There are many ways to do it that don’t involve special and expensive programs…[/quote]

    There may be ways to do it that don’t involve special and expensive programs. However, I do not know any way to do it that does not involve adequate personel staffing of a number of positions. My son’s problems had their basis in depression. This is a doubly troubling diagnosis since it not only saps motivation, but can hide beneath a quiet, well behaved exterior. I raise this point because one of the things that we have already done is to cut school nurses and counselors, the folks who given enough time, may be able to spot this problem early and thus help prevent the most devastating effects.

    I don’t know how familiar you are with the DaVince Academy or whether you consider it a special and expensive program or not. What I do know is that while it may be more expensive to run the array of programs we have available locally: DHS, DaVinci, King, Independent Study each meets the needs of a particular group of students, some of whom simply will not thrive within the traditional DHS model. The choice is really fairly simple. We can choose to fund sufficient resources ( whether individual jobs or programs ) for these students who do not fit the conventional mold, or we can let them fail. The choice is ours as parents and voters.

  48. medwoman

    [quote]Sometimes bright and cooperative children are forced to languish at the pace the rest of the students are taking bc the teacher doesn’t want to be bothered dealing with the bright child[/quote]

    This is certainly one way of seeing this issue. Another way of seeing it is that the teacher may quite literally not have the time to devote to dealing, in a special way, with the brighter children because he/she is so busy trying to make up with special emphasis on those who are below grade level. I know this problem well because I faced it with my daughter, the classic “golden girl” whose teachers had a very difficult time keeping her challenged. I did not blame this on them, they were for the most part working to full capacity.

  49. David M. Greenwald

    Well put Medwoman. In the case of my nephew, there were 8 students in his first grade class that were special needs/ IEP/ learning disabled. Without the school’s ability to pull them out, the entire class would have suffered.

  50. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]I think Elaine’s experience is based on things from 20 years ago and that she really needs to get back into the classroom and observe things if she is going to continue to weigh in on these matters.[/quote]

    Now you can read my mind? How arrogant of you to dismiss my opinions as uninformed. I’m done…

  51. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]This is certainly one way of seeing this issue. Another way of seeing it is that the teacher may quite literally not have the time to devote to dealing, in a special way, with the brighter children because he/she is so busy trying to make up with special emphasis on those who are below grade level. [/quote]

    There are ways to deal w this within the school system that do not require more personnel or expensive programs…

  52. David M. Greenwald

    Just my opinion Elaine particularly since things you’ve cited are quite old, you have not cited recent examples, and many of the things you suggest are already incorporated.

    In terms of ways to deal with this that do not require personnel and the still-undefined expensive program, I’m all ears.

  53. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]I don’t know how familiar you are with the DaVince Academy or whether you consider it a special and expensive program or not. What I do know is that while it may be more expensive to run the array of programs we have available locally: DHS, DaVinci, King, Independent Study each meets the needs of a particular group of students, some of whom simply will not thrive within the traditional DHS model. The choice is really fairly simple. We can choose to fund sufficient resources ( whether individual jobs or programs ) for these students who do not fit the conventional mold, or we can let them fail. The choice is ours as parents and voters.[/quote]

    I’m not particularly opposed to these programs if they address the needs of the students they serve…

  54. medwoman

    Elaine

    [quote]here are ways to deal w this within the school system that do not require more personnel or expensive programs…[/quote]

    Could you list some of these so that I know what you have in mind ?

  55. E Roberts Musser

    Yes – Institute team teaching, so that each core group of teachers (English, Social Studies, Math, Science) receives a certain number of students. Those students are divided by ability level. The slower students can be assigned to smaller classes for more individualized attention. In-school and after-school tutoring programs can also be implemented. This is just for starters…

  56. wdf1

    ERM: Some elementary schools have implemented block scheduling, where all students of a particular grade cover the same subject at the same time, students distributed among different teachers by level. This is not universally popular, but it is being done.

    The Bridge Foundation operates a program of after-school tutoring in its “Homework Club” program. The Homework Club is at schools who most need it, depending on available funds. Last school year, it was at MME, Patwin, Korematsu, Harper, DHS. Obviously other schools could use it, but funds were not available.

    In school volunteer assistance (tutoring) depends on what the individual teacher prefers and if there are volunteers available at suitable times, but happens in some places.

    Any other ideas?

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