http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2012/05/11/pusd-reaches-deal-with-teachers-union-issues-layoffs


Pleasanton Weekly

News - May 11, 2012

PUSD reaches deal with teachers union, issues layoffs

Deal might help restore programs cut from 2012-13

by Glenn Wohltmann

The same night the Pleasanton School Board recognized May 9 as the "Day of the Teacher," it voted to lay off the equivalent of more than 55 full-time employees.

The layoffs are necessary to balance the district's budget; by state law the notices must go out on or before May 15. More positions were to have been eliminated, but the remainder came from retirements, resignations, unpaid leaves of absence and job-sharing among employees, according to Bill Faraghan, assistant superintendent of human resources.

"We had to prepare to have 70 fewer people in order to balance the budget," Faraghan said.

Teachers are the hardest hit, with the equivalent of nearly 38 positions cut. However, many of those are full-time equivalents, which means an employee may lose a portion, but not all, of his or her hours. The equivalent of 7.6 counseling jobs will be cut, although some of the counselors will be job sharing, and the district will cut the equivalent of 5.2 physical education positions as well.

Some of those may be brought back thanks to a tentative agreement between the district and the Association of Pleasanton Teachers (APT). That agreement includes up to four days of furloughs, triggered if the state reduces its base revenue limit (BRL) -- what the district gets per year, per child -- by specific amounts. For example, if the state reduces the BRL by between $243 to $274, teachers will get one furlough day, and will get a second day furlough if the BRL gets cut from between $275 to $306. If all four furlough days are triggered -- at a BRL reduction between $339 and $370 -- the district would save a total of $1.44 million.

Furlough days notwithstanding, all the cuts are continuations of prior agreements, including increasing class sizes at middle and high schools, saving $880,000, and the continued suspension of stipends for the teacher support and training advisory committee, saving $15,000.

If the furlough days were not part of the agreement with APT, the agreement would cost the district an extra $380,000. The furlough days will offset the expenses for teacher training, where they can receive $250 for six hours of training for up to three days a year, a maximum of $750 per teacher.

Still, the agreement will allow the district to start to restore some of what it cut from the 2012-13 school year, and board members are looking forward to that.

"For people who talk about 'magic money,' this is magic money," said Board Member Jeff Bowser. "We'll be able to restore some programs in upcoming meetings."

Board President Joan Laursen said she was particularly happy with the relationship between the district and its two unions. She noted that the Alameda school district is at an impasse with its unions and that teachers in San Francisco have authorized a strike if they do not get a pay increase.

The district has yet to finalize an agreement with its other union, the California Service Employee Association, although that union has later layoff dates. Coincidentally, the board recognized May 20 to 26 as Classified Employees Week.

In other financial matters, state revenue figures are down nearly $3 billion from Gov. Jerry Brown's projections, and that could have a major impact on school funding.

Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services, said the next set of figures will be released on May 14, in what's known as the "May revise."

"The governor will likely have to revise his budget (to account for the shortfall, and for projections that run into the next fiscal year)," Cazares said. "We'll just have to see how much that shortfall will grow."

Board Member Chris Grant urged people to vote for Brown's proposed tax increase on the November ballot.

The board voted to spend $256,000 on programs for English language learners at Valley View Elementary, which is under a mandate to improve tests scores for some subgroups, and to spend $12,000 to train teachers there.

"This is really not an option," said Jane Golden, director of curriculum and special projects, explaining that schools that fall into the program improvement category are required to use the latest edition of programs available.

The board also accepted a donation of nearly $723,000 from the Pleasanton Schools Educational Enrichment Foundation. That money is to go to funding music programs.

The district will also consider adding an honors chemistry course for students interested in pursuing a career in science. That course will have no cost to the district because it will use current textbooks and shift the teacher from one regular chemistry class to the honors class.

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