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Shorter School Day Ahead for K-3 Students in Pleasanton

Pleasanton students in grades kindergarten through three will have a shorter school day due to class size reduction.

K-3 parents: If you're not planning to clean out your kid's backpack until August, consider this fair warning: Inside you're going to find the has snuck an extremely unpleasant end-of-the-year surprise inside.

Tipped off by a very upset parent who sent me a text expressing her outrage, I looked inside my child's bag and found a pink one-sheet letter announcing that due to the elimination of , K-3 classes will have 30 kids. 

(Last we heard, the district was considering , but apparently that plan didn't work out, at least since our last Pleasanton Patch article on the subject.)

So, the June 8 letter states, the district is implementing a staggered schedule to offer small group reading instruction for primary grade students.

What the letter does not say anything about is that this schedule, which was followed by the district 14 years ago, means our K-3 kids will have 45 minutes less instructional time.

If you're in "Group A," you go to school from 8:15 a.m. until 2 p.m. If you're in "Group B," you go to school from 9 a.m. until 2:55 p.m. (Upper grades are not affected.)

Beyond my distress at the shorter school day, this schedule causes major problems for working parents who need to figure out new child care options (which also will cost them more money, of course.) And even for parents who don't work or who work at home, if they have more than one kid, they'll now have little ones coming and going at different times. Ugh.

I'm also frustrated by the lack of communication from the district on this. A letter sent home on the last day of school in a kid's backpack? Really? How many parents aren't even going to KNOW that this is happening??

I've heard there's an effort to raise money to halt some of these budget cuts, but it seems like the district has made its decision.

Have a nice summer.

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Bookworm June 12, 2012 at 06:03 AM
I feel frustrated that everyone is so shocked and angered by PUSD's efforts to deliver quality education with a bare bones budget. We are the only district around who cannot seem to pass a parcel tax. Why? because we have too many people in our community who want to blame the state and/or develop conspiracy theories about what the district is doing with the budget. The bottom line is: there is not enough money in the budget to teach our kids properly. You try teaching 30 first graders to read. Sure, it used to work...back in the 80's when there were no state level benchmarks for what students must master. Teaching to a small group of children is truly what's best for young children who are learning to read and comprehend text. I know it's an inconvenience to all parents, but this is life with a slashed budget and little community support. Next time, let's take some pride and responsibility for our schools' success...and vote YES for that parcel tax!!!
Pleasanton Mom June 12, 2012 at 06:59 AM
I can't stand the unions, but feel for these teachers that now have to find a way to pack even more in with 45 less mins a day. I ever you doubt that every single minute is used to its fullest because they are required to cover do much then go sit in a classroom for a day. My daughter graduated already and she had 33 kids in her PUSD 3-5 grade classes. The superintendent is very approachable. If you have a valid well thought out plan and have done your homework, I can't see her turning down a meeting. Cindy Galbo retiring is a big deal. This is a huge loss and huge shoes to fill at such a challenging time. I'm so glad my youngest is in high school and I am sorry for those of you with younger kids. I have a feeling a parcel tax might be reconsidered by voters now that we are feeling the pain. I'd be willing to paying share whereas my position was not the same one year ago.
Elizabeth June 12, 2012 at 07:23 AM
Actually, the PUSD would never in a million years commit to class size reduction in writing for a parcel tax nor commit to any sort of salary freeze because they would never write specifics at all. They want "flexibility" to spend the money on consultants, administrators, raises, loans for houses for superintendents, retreats, seminars, and other bells and whistles. That is why the language is always so vague and one would never pass, particularly, when the community has felt retaliated against or manipulated by stunts like these. Wonder who dreamed up the end of school year 'letter in backpack,' Ahmadi or Larson?
Emily June 13, 2012 at 04:47 AM
We may be the 'only district around' who won't pass a parcel tax but when you look at the high level of parent involvement, fundraising and PPIE contributions, one could safely say that many residents are feeling fatigued from being nickeled and dimed at every turn. I'm not saying I wouldn't support a parcel tax, however I would feel much more inclined to vote YES on such a tax if I felt confident the district was making the best financial decisions possible. I just don't know. These 11th hour major announcements slipped into report card envelopes aren't leaving me feeling very confident in the leadership. Hopefully I'm proven wrong. Truly.
Elizabeth June 13, 2012 at 07:33 AM
With this http://www.pleasantonweekly.com/news/show_story.php?id=9415, according to this, there is no leadership and no accountability. We elect a Board to run the school district, but it seems that Chris Grant just wants to abdicate all responsibility in allocating resources to reading. He seems to not have any leadership ability, and not only that, believes he should NOT make decisions. Also, he believes it is not his role to ensure that the community and stakeholders who elected HIM to be in charge have any participation in the process, per this latest 11th hour announcement. I guess that he just leaves all that stuff to deskbound bureaucrats and internal staff. The quote below summarizes his point of view perfectly. ' "A separate motion made by Arkin and seconded by Hintzke to add one extra reading specialist specifically for Barton failed on a vote of 2 to 3. Board Member Chris Grant said the experts, not the school board, should decide how to allocate money for reading. Grant said principals, reading specialists and teachers should "come together and say, 'With a limited amount of resources ... how can we have the biggest impact on kids and help them advance?'" ' The Board of Education is responsible for allocating resources to education. Chris Grant evidently thinks that is not part of his job description. I guess he feels his job is to just sit there and nod in obedience and hand out certificates.

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