Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 12, 2010

District prepares to distribute preliminary layoff notices

Superintendent search narrows with 34 applicants vying for top spot

by Emily West

Three of the five board members voted to send notices of possible layoff for just under 27 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions.

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Bill Faraghan said initially the number was at 32 FTE, but they were able to lower that number. The positions on the potential chopping block include services from art, computers, science, music, world languages and more. Faraghan said most of these cuts are at the high school level, but may change when dealing with seniority and enrollment.

The number of layoff notices was less than anticipated when the $8-million deficit was first projected, as the district and teacher's union were able to save some positions with concessions.

As of Wednesday, they were unsure of how many people would be sent notices by the March 15 deadline.

San Ramon Valley Unified School District's board, a district that is often compared to PUSD, voted this week to increase class sizes and send out 136 layoff notices to teachers and other employees.

Another change in staffing is preparing to take place as Superintendent John Casey prepares to retire June 30. The deadline to apply for the top post was March 5, and there are 34 people vying for the position.

Preliminary results from trustee Valerie Arkin -- who is acting as the liaison for the district and the search firm of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd. (HYA) -- showed a majority of candidates hailing from California, with no confirmation of applicants from within the district.

Early on, the school board had outlined dates for feedback meetings, drafted a list of stakeholder groups for the search firm to meet with and encouraged the community to fill out feedback forms. While the two public meetings held at the district offices only attracted a handful of participants, Arkin said there were more than 100 responses from feedback forms that were sent directly to HYA.

HYA compiled a "leadership profile" that combines the top qualities that the community requests of a future superintendent.

Some of these characteristics, according to Arkin, include a long-range planner, charismatic leader, someone who is able to take criticism, is an out-of-the-box thinker, trustworthy, approachable and is a good communicator.

As for the school board, she said they want "somebody who is dynamic, can be a visionary and can be able to work with all sorts f groups in the community."

The ability to bring people together is important as well, she said, because the community can be divided during difficult times such as these with the district facing multi-million-dollar cuts.

The board has scheduled an open meeting with HYA at 5 p.m. Monday, March 15 at the district office board room, located at 4665 Bernal Ave.


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