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Pleasanton school board to look at restoring programs, new savings from union, management concessions

Original post made on May 21, 2012

At tonight's Pleasanton school board meeting, members will be looking at possible programs to restore, made possible by concessions from the teacher's union, donations from the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation, and possible new savings.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 21, 2012, 6:02 PM

Comments (69)

Posted by Secret Asst Superintendent?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Why is PUSD supposedly hiring a new assistant superintendent tomorrow night? It is hard to say what they will be paid or who it is because the PUSD seems to be hiding the actual proposed contract. It is nowhere to be found on their web page. Will they get the supposed secret perks like car allowances and such as in days past?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 22, 2012 at 6:48 am

The position exists and the current employee is retiring. However, not posting the contract is a problem because the public has had no time to review it. It would seem 72 hrs. notice (Brown Act) to the community applies. I don't think the board should take action tonight.


Posted by jill, a resident of Birdland
on May 22, 2012 at 10:03 am

One again the school district "forgets" to publish public information. The last city and school board joint meeting had to be canceled because of this and I believe now they ae doing it again by not releasing a new contract, that is to be voted upon at a public hearing, in time for the public to review, since it is our tax money that is paying for it. Unless the contract says that the superintendent will be paying the salary and benefits for the assistant superintendent from her own pocket, this item should not be voted upon today.

My guess is the new contract has a bunch of clauses in it for excessive benefits and the superintendent does not want the public to see the contract until after it is signed. My guess this contact has car allowances (which the community has said over and over should not be done any more), free retiree medical (which is a benefit not available to the general public and is paid for 100% by the taxpayer, and the district has already stated they do not have enough money to fund this liability to the actuarial amount (actually 100% unfunded)). Who knows what else is in there.

I guess the superintendent feels she has three "yes" people on the board what will approve anything she wants, so she can thumb her nose to the public and get away with this.

If the board was smart, they would continue this item until the public has a chance to review the contract. Otherwise I believe they are violating the Brown Act, which would mean that the vote could be made invalid. That could mess up things for this new employee, of which we know nothing about. Not sure if this is an internal hire, somebody from another district, or just a friend of the superintendent (how the previous superintendent did a lot of his hiring).


Posted by Linda, a resident of Laguna Oaks
on May 22, 2012 at 11:05 am

I would feel better with all information made available. It important for the public to feel informed when making decisions on additional public funding.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 11:25 am

Agreed, now more than ever, we need to know how our money is being spent. Cutting a 150k + benefits position would pay for numerous programs that are being dropped.


Posted by Secret Asst Superintendent?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm

You would think with their constant whining about the budget and their history of bringing in outsiders not actually qualified to do the job, that they would go with an interim assistant superintendent on a trial basis for a year or so to see if they can actually do the job.


Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Would the most highly qualified candidates be willing to leave a secure position in order to come to Pleasanton "on a trial basis"?

My info suggests that the contract is not finalized. My guess is that the agenda item will be postponed for another meeting.


Posted by Secret Asst Superintendent?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Administrators who misrepresents facts or who is outright dishonest, do not foster confidence in the work environment. 'Walking on eggs' is not a mindset that produces anything positive. Certificated and classified staff and the public should not have to put up with ineffective, unsupportive and unproductive administrators.

How can the trustees know the best candidate for any administrator (district or site) was selected? Given PUSD staff is firmly enmeshed in a system whose prime axioms are secrecy and control and cover-ups, I'll bet the trustees don't interview them and worse than that, I'll bet the superintendent doesn't even show the trustees the resumes.

Trustees have the responsibility to provide the best possible environment for our teachers to teach and our students to learn.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Sandy, I'd have to argue that someone who wants to come to a good district and do the job well has nothing to fear even without a contract or a minimal one year contract. Having a strong candidate in the curriculum position is vital to students. Paying generous severance packages to someone who fails, particularly with the uncertainty of future funding, is ludicrous. After all, the district is already under water on a lot of its future commitments.


Posted by jill, a resident of Birdland
on May 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm

We do not give our principals contracts, so why give the assistant superintendents contracts? I would argue that a school principal is going to have more of an impact on our kids impacts than anyone at the district office.

Did you know that the City of Pleasanton does not give out contracts for any employees, except the City Manager and the City Attorney. Why does our school district seem to think that our school district needs contracts for all these district people? I think the school contracts were done to protect friends of the superintendent.

My understanding is that very few school district do contracts for employees except for the superintendent. And they have people applying for those jobs. What makes Pleasanton so "special"?

We need to do away with these contracts, which just ties the hands of the school board.

Tell you what, if this new employee is any good, he or she should insist on not having a contract. The only ones who need a contract at that level are those who do not feel they will perform well in their job.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm

As information and based on a response I received a few minutes ago from the district's attorney, it is entirely likely the board will consider taking action on this contract this evening. The intention is to present the contract after the closed session discussion.

I have requested, based on time available before the end of the school year and the presumed beginning of this contract, that the action be postponed to allow the community time to review this commitment.


Posted by Secret Asst Superintendent?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I have some predictions as to why the mystery contract is being kept secret:

-- I'll bet the candidate is not an internal candidate or from a high performing Silicon Valley district like Palo Alto Unified

--I'll bet the candidate is another one of these San Joaquin and Central Valley 'barely scraping by' districts like those found around Modesto, Lodi, Stockton, or Fresno.

-- I'll bet the contract is full of the same ol' perks and car allowances.


Posted by Marie, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Educational Services is a very vital component of our children's education. However, given budget constraints and the fact that this is the superintendents background, the district should be able to get by with a coordinator or director in this position. Let the superintendent oversee, which is her job anyway. Come on district....save a few dollars. Instead, they continue to be secretive about the budget implications. Say what you want about prior admin, but this admin is certainly not any better or any more transparent.


Posted by Daniel Bradford, a resident of Foothill High School
on May 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, 3 hours ago

Would the most highly qualified candidates be willing to leave a secure position in order to come to Pleasanton "on a trial basis"?
-----------------------------
Sandy, I assume your question is not rhetorical. The answer is "no". PUSD must offer compensation that is comparable to that of other districts for all positions: classified, administrative, and teaching.

Ms. Ruegsegger's contention that a highly-qualified candidate would relocate his/her family and give up a well-paid job for a job that might last one week, one month, or one year, is one of the more ridiculous things I've read this week. And I read The Onion every day.


Posted by Secret Asst Superintendent?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Bradford's comment seems to indicate no knowledge of private sector employment which is entirely "at will." There are no guarantees and cushy contracts for private sector employees. Private sector employees relocate for job opportunities all the time.

Also CA school district administrators seem to be a fly by night set of people that move jobs so often that many never relocate to the district they work for. Some even require that the taxpayers loan them money for the privilege of having the esteemed superintendent move to town (the $200,000 house loan for Casey).

Why do these administrators seem to have none of the rules that others go by? There are probationary periods for teachers. There are federal employee probationary periods of 1-3 years.


Posted by Secret Asst Superintendent?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Astronomical administrator salaries and their $100,000+ pensions are bankrupting the State and destroying the quality of children's education throughout the State Web Link

"Booming administrator salaries are largely behind the trend. Public school superintendents, on average, earned $168,000 in base pay last year, roughly 56 percent more than they did 10 years ago, according to data from the California Department of Education."

Read more here: Web Link


Posted by xyz, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 5:30 pm

"Bradford's comment seems to indicate no knowledge of private sector employment which is entirely "at will." "

Private sector employment practices aren't relevant. PUSD can't decide to play by a different set of rules on its own. Any administrator PUSD offers a job will be comparing the offer against his current benefits or any other offers for school administrators. He will not be comparing against benefits for a private sector job.


Posted by ptown momma, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Honestly people, until we quit entertaining the idea of a parcel tax for PUSD and show a desire to the PUSD to quit throwing money at them to mismanage, this school district will be broken. Tighten the leash and make them do the tough cuts. Eventually they'll see that the padded administration salaries and perks are a waste and the money needs to go to the classroom. PPIE made a large donation which is great, how much of it will be wasted?


Posted by jill, a resident of Birdland
on May 22, 2012 at 9:00 pm

To xyz, I believe most districts now do not have contracts for these positions. So we do not need these contracts to attract the "best" employees. We do not offer these contracts to school principals and we have no problem with great candidates applying. And why do we need a gaggle of assistant superintendents? All those positions should be directors, just like the City. A group of people tagged as assistant superintendents with contracts is just another way for the superintendent to give out favors. It does not make our district any better.


Posted by xyz, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 10:27 pm

jill,

I agree with your point about principals vs. assistant superintendents.

ptown mama,

None of us were talking about a parcel tax.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 23, 2012 at 7:43 am

Could someone please present a few examples of districts close to our size (15,000 students) and quality (API above 850) that have no assistant superintendents, only directors?

I was not able to watch the board meeting last night. What happened on this agenda item?


Posted by Marie, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 23, 2012 at 8:10 am

I don't think it matters what districts have directors or asst superintendents. In these budget times, districts need to think about what is most cost beneficial for them. I believe that the directors are typically the ones who do the majority of the work and the asst supts do some polishing and take the credit. That may be acceptable in good times, but not in bad.


Posted by chemist, a resident of Downtown
on May 23, 2012 at 8:36 am

If an "existing" administrator is retiring, that is a golden opportunity to eliminate the position and spend more than $150-$200,000 per year on EDUCATION.


Posted by New mom, a resident of Foothill High School
on May 23, 2012 at 9:23 am

I agree with Chemist. Why is this person being replaced?

Can we DOWNSIZE the administration like virutally every company in the US has done during these difficult times?

Can we CUT positions at district office like they are asking every school in the district to do. Every school is expected to do the same, or more, with less. The district office needs to lead by example.

How much longer is this superintendent in office? Can we get rid of this administration


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 23, 2012 at 9:43 am

The contract still is not posted; the item for the asst. supt. of ed svcs was last on the agenda (this should not be done with items of interest to the public and is done to discourage public comment--and yes, it is intentional); and while the video is posted, you cannot skip to the chapter you want to see.

The superintendent and the other two current asst. supts. essentially have three year perpetual contracts (generally, with a satisfactory review, another year is added). You'd have to get the board (or a new board) to be willing to stop renewing the contracts.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 23, 2012 at 11:34 am

My understanding is the contract is available with an email request to Bill Faraghan, Human Resources - bfaraghan@pleasanton.k12.ca.us


Posted by jill, a resident of Birdland
on May 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm

But the contract has never been made available to the public before the hearing. And now you have to identify yourself in order to see the contract, past-haste.

I would like to know who voted for this contract and who did not (if any). Our district is out of control and we need a lot of replacing to do to get it back.

Kathleen is right about the perpetual contracts. The perpetual contracts are designed to let the superintendent keep his or her buddies with jobs. I am greatly disappointed in the current superintendent and the board that allows this. Perhaps we need a local initiative brought before the voters to restrict the district from doing certain actions. It takes a bad board majority to initiate contracts with personnel, making it difficult for the future.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I can't fathom why the board would act upon an employment contract that only became a public record immediately before the open session if they hoped to improve relations with the community. Someone should have continued the item.


Posted by Secret Asst Superintendent?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Because there are so many school districts in CA, the superintendents and management job-hop from one district to another. (That is one reason why salaries for administrators are so high). Many never care to really never become part of the communities in which they work. So they don't care about improving public relations with the community.

Then when they get entrenched, they just expect the board to rubberstamp everything. And because the board just cares about having nice relations to the entrenched superintendent rather than the community that elected them in the first place, the cycle of no accountability and no transparency continues.

There should have been a public hearing months ago to have the board decide whether the position of asst superintendent should be filled or made director level in the first place. I'll bet the superintendent never even asked.


Posted by jill, a resident of Birdland
on May 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm

These employees can leave a job under contract without any repercussions but the district cannot terminate them without a big payout. Completely one-sided contracts designed to protect friends of the superintendent.

In the instance when you have a worker that is not performing to expectations, you hope they look for another job and you will give a good reference check in order to not pay to cancel the contract. Then the next district has to deal with that person and possibly go through the same process. Government works so hard to protect under performing workers.

I still have not hard whether the board actually voted on this item, or continued it since the public did not have a chance to see the documents. Related to this, the district consistently changes and adds items to the public hearings at the last moment. They are called "blue sheets". They have these at EVERY meeting. The district puts together the minimal amount of info for an agenda item (e.g., Personnel changes) and then right before the hearing they release the "blue sheet" with the information. This should be illegal. There are only two reasons for these "blue sheets". One, the employees are incompetent and cannot prepare ahead of time for a meeting. Two, they are hiding information from the public before a vote. The City would never do something like this. They know it is probably illegal but more so, the City respects the public where the district has contempt for the public.

On the previous post, you are right, there should have been an agenda item months ago to discuss replacing employees at this level.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I finally made it through the 4-hour-long webcast, and can report that the board unanimously approved the new contract. If I heard correctly, the new assistant superintendent's name is Dr. Odie Douglas and he will start July 1.

This news story provides some background about his job transition.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Sorry, my link was omitted: Web Link


Posted by Dr. David Strem, a resident of California Somerset
on May 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Uh, okay.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm

A mixed read. My concern is whether Lodi's focus on all college prep, which they are now stepping back from, is a fit for PUSD if that focus was Dr. Douglas' bailiwick. Nothing wrong with high expectations, but not all students, even in Pleasanton, are prepared for or interested in college, especially right out of high school.


Posted by jill, a resident of Birdland
on May 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm

If you search a little on the internet, you will find that Dr. Douglas had the same position in Lodi WHERE THEY OFFER NO CONTRACTS.
Web Link

In that article it states, "Thirty-six people applied for the job. There is no contract for the year-to-year position. The pay is determined by the district's manager salary schedule. The only administrators on independent contracts are the superintendent Cathy Nichols Washer and chief business officer Tim Hern, confirmed Mike McKilligan, director of personnel."

Lodi, among with many other districts do not offer contracts for this position.

I think we need to replace board members who perpetuate problematic items (like contracts) and just say yes to whatever staff wants.


Posted by Dr. David Strem, a resident of California Somerset
on May 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Throughout my illustrious career as an educator I have always argued against contracts. Such are evil things, as indicated amply by the egregious contracts the PEOPLE have written with profligate unions. Contracts allow administrators and teachers to feel secure in their jobs. With that security (most people in the private sector have no such security), they begin to get too big for their britches, experimenting with new ideas and thinking that they can do so without feeling the reactionary ire from the community which knows better about education than do administrators and teachers. (E.g., see Kathleen Rugsinooger's suggestion that schools should have a built-in mechanism for students and their parents who don't buy into the elitist college aspiration; we must have ample dumbing down opportunities to suit community demand.) Ideally, we should banish all contracts and democratize education. All educators and administrators should be voted into their positions by parents every year. School Board members should be elected every 3 months. It is the only fair way to do things. I would much prefer educators spend their time attempting to placate community interests than doing things like teaching, administering, innovating. Respectfully yours, Dr. David Strem, MD, Ph.D., MA, BA (magna cum laude), AA.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm

We must have ample opportunity for all students to succeed in finding their calling. That does not require dumbing down anything, Mittens.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Kathleen,

I think it is pre-mature to assume that Dr. Douglas' bailiwick is an all-college prep curriculum and that he will bring it to PUSD.

Also, the gaming of the contract disclosure before approval should in no way reflect upon Dr. Douglas. Let's welcome him to the district and wish him luck.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Stacey, I did said if; can't tell from the article whose recommendation it was originally. I would only wish the best for anyone coming into this role for PUSD. The job will be challenging enough.


Posted by xyz, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm

"Nothing wrong with high expectations, but not all students, even in Pleasanton, are prepared for or interested in college, especially right out of high school."

That sounds to me like you are working hard to find something wrong with this guy. He seems to me like a very good fit for the district where heavy emphasis on college prep and academic-rigor are what many Pleasanton parents, like myself, want. I'm more worried about "Mittens" concern about "dumbing down" the curriculum.


Posted by Daniel Bradford, a resident of Foothill High School
on May 23, 2012 at 8:19 pm

The point about contracts--the administrative equivalent of teacher tenure, which means you can't be fired except for just cause--is a good one.

Pleasanton voters and taxpayers expect the administrators and teachers of PUSD to make choices and decisions. Choices and decisions inevitably anger people; if you are an "at will" employee who can be fired at any time, will you, as a teacher, have the courage to assign a failing grade to the child of a politically powerful, rich family? Will you, as an administrator, have the courage to back up that teacher's decision? Anybody who denies there is intense political pressure on teachers and school administrators is naive beyond belief. Tenure and contracts enable us to partly resist those political pressures.

If you want administrators and teachers who have the job security and status of Wal-Mart clerks, then be very careful what you wish for.

Throughout my eight years at PUSD, I was a vocal and well-known critic of the lack of transparency and communication during Dr. Casey's administration. Believe me, Dr. Casey knew who I was! I worked less than two years under Ms. Ahmadi's superintendency, but towards the end I didn't see much difference between her stewardship of the district and Dr. Casey's. It's within the power of the Board to demand changes, but the majority of the Board seem to think that everything is fine. I've worked for other school districts besides PUSD, and PUSD is actually one of the better-managed districts (no, really)--I've seen far, far worse. But there is definite room for improvement.


Posted by Nomad, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Did the management contract described in the article get approved? If so, then PUSD has started down the path of true structural reform as outlined here Web Link .
That PUSD has chosen to eliminate the longevity bonus completely is worthy of commendation. I hope for their sake this is a permanent change. And that more structural changes are on the way, including those that require permanent changes to the APT and CSEA contracts.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm

xyz, I don't know Dr. Douglas, and I said the article was a mixed read. I'm definitely not in favor of dumbing down curriculum, I'm just indicating the one size fits all approach doesn't actually work. Plenty of room to make public education successful for all students in the community.

Nomad, according to Sandy, Dr. Douglas' contract got a unanimous approval by the board members.

Daniel, the voters and taxpayers generally do not have contracts in their own jobs, and they have to make tough decisions, and I haven't actually seen a rich/powerful or not rich/less powerful family win very many debates with school districts either. A teacher (really) said that unless they are caught with a body (and maybe even a weapon), little is going happen. So, maybe a contract/union is never going to be undone, but there definitely is room for improvement.


Posted by Daniel Bradford, a resident of Foothill High School
on May 23, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Kathleen: You're living in fantasy land. Every teacher I know has come under pressure many times--not once, but many times--to change a student's grade. Every school librarian I know has come under pressure at least several times in his or her career (including mine) to remove "objectionable" books from the library.

I have seen veteran teachers with decades of experience and tenure "feel the heat"--just imagine what could happen to a teacher who had a year to go to qualify for his/her pension and was threatened with dismissal if he/she didn't do the administration's or a parent's bidding. The only thing that's going to go away if you get rid of teacher tenure and contracts is academic integrity. Teachers are NOT waiters in a restaurant; we are professionals who must have the ability to exercise our own judgment and discretion.

Getting rid of teacher unions and contracts won't improve schools. The only people are convinced that making teachers' jobs less secure and lower-paid than they already are, are the ideologically-driven anti-tax, anti-union crowd.


Posted by Secret Asst Superintendent?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Getting rid of unions and contracts will ensure that bad teachers who can't teach can be fired (I've seen waiters much more qualified to teach than those hired by school districts). Now, they stay forever unless by chance incarcerated for some felony and being housed in some state penitentiary.

The 10% bottom performing teachers should be let go every year similar to the way private sector businesses get rid of the bottom 10% of non-performing employees every year.

How hiring someone that seems to be some sort of Peggy McIntosh devotee focused on "white privilege" and "male privilege" and "unpacking the invisible knapsack" accomplishes anything positive is beyond me.


Posted by jill, a resident of Birdland
on May 23, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Daniel, you state that teachers are professionals. Why then do these professionals need unions and contracts? I would rather see a professional that is paid based on their ability, not on their tenure.

You think that the unions are needed to protect salaries of teachers. I think it is the opposite. A good teacher should be making more than a poor teacher (a good professional should be making more than a poor professional). As long as there are unions and contracts, the profession is only as good as the worst performers. I believe our community wants to pay good teachers well. It is not possible with the current structure.

Our district, and we are not alone, needs to address several things in order for the public to want to contribute more taxes.
- Not giving out automatic raises based on longevity. We are giving out $1.5 million dollars per year in raises right now, no matter how good they are. At the same time we are laying off teachers, no matter how good they are. This needs to be fixed.

- We are giving out free benefits to retirees (medical insurance). A benefit that is not even paid for by current taxes. We borrow against the future on this. This needs to go away. Start with management today.

- Certain management positions, except for possibly the superintendent, should not be protected by contracts. I do not think those employees are significantly more valuable than other management (principals) or teachers. We have no problems in filling those positions. Those jobs are supposed to be for "professionals". They do not need protection. They need to perform the duties of their job well. That gives them continued employment. Not a contract that locks that person into that job, or benefits that we cannot afford. I am a professional, like a majority in our community. I would guess that there are almost no contracts for the professionals in our community.

There are probably more that I have missed.

We cannot continue with "business as usual." It does not benefit our students.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 23, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Employment contracts are not simply there to provide protection to employees. They provide protection to employers as well.


Posted by xyz, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 23, 2012 at 10:15 pm

"The 10% bottom performing teachers should be let go every year similar to the way private sector businesses get rid of the bottom 10% of non-performing employees every year."

That is a gross exaggeration. I've worked in the private sector all my life and have never seen numbers that high. What industry do you work in? At Microsoft, there were rarely times when 1% were let go, much less 10%. 10% every year? You've got to be kidding.


Posted by Dr. David Strem, a resident of California Somerset
on May 23, 2012 at 10:58 pm

One thing I learned in my illustrious career as an educator is that the less money a state has to support education the more the community should launch crusades to ensure that austerity is magnified with teachers/administrators forced to take cuts to pensions, rights, decision-making autonomy.

In California, for example, we provide less money per student than virtually every other state in the union. All the more reason, therefore, to vigilantly attempt to exert community pressure on teachers/administrators for purposes of hurting them where it counts, in their pocketbook, of course, but also in the classroom where they have to think twice about offending one of their student's parents. (Consider, for example, being assigned to teach or administer one of Nomad's or Rugsinuckle's kids? What a relief, eh, to have them help you with your day to day decision making!)


Posted by Secret Asst Superintendent?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 23, 2012 at 11:26 pm

10% (that is a low percentage by the way) of non-performing employees are routinely let go or laid off each year in the private sector. They proactively have personnel departments and there are proper processes in place to have performance improvement plans that have measurable goals.

Misconduct means employees are let go.

Examples are:

Many consulting and financial services firms or tech support firms hire people that are put through a substantial training period. If they can't cut it or don't pass the qualifying exams after being trained, they are let go. Consulting firms routinely let go people who are unbillable.

Almost any firm that has anything to do with selling something means they have a sales force. Sales consultants and sales reps that don't meet their quotas, unless there is a very compelling reason, are routinely let go.

Then there are companies like HP that don't do this sort of thing, but then every few years they get rid of 20,000 to 30,000 of their work force.


Posted by sandy piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 24, 2012 at 7:51 am

As a business professor, I know that few businesses can pull off the Jack Welch rule on terminations effectively, because not many managers understand how the idea of firing the worst 10% fits into the whole system of GE's Jack Welch-style management.

If you're not familiar with Jack Welch, this Business Week article from 1998 is a great short bio to start with.

Web Link

One key difference between the GE work environment and the PUSD work environment: Jack Welch can give a bonus whenever he feels like it.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 24, 2012 at 8:16 am

Daniel, there is a disconnect here. First, I was talking about more expedient removal of ineffective teachers. The rights of teachers far outweighs those of parents/students. Secondly, I would agree teachers are often asked to compromise on grades/assignments; on a rare occasion, the requests are legitimate. Third, there is a process for those who find books objectionable, including the policy that allows a student to opt out with the onus for substitute work falling on the parents/students who object.

As to "feel the heat," I don't think you can claim teachers are professionals (I do believe they are) and not expect them to make the hard choices. However, a teacher should expect pushback when exercising his/her own judgment and discretion and the judgment is found not to be grounded in academic integrity. Teachers/professionals do not work in a vacuum.

There are possible changes that don't involve removing tenure and getting rid of unions/contracts. At a minimum, tenure could be granted at the beginning of the sixth year (and long waits already exist elsewhere). And I would pay teachers more and/or include a bonus structure.

The last sentence stereotypes and is unnecessarily punitive. Which number of people with a shared belief isn't ideologically driven? I have argued that if value-add to society is the measure, teachers are underpaid (and more grossly so in other states than in California or Pleasanton specifically). From my perspective, I'm willing to pay more taxes when the aim is specific and the accountability is transparent. I am not willing, however, to commit every household in California to pay $30,000+ to shore up a defined benefit pension plan when there are better ways to provide a pension. My belief is you have to have both (more pay, different pension) for it to work.


Posted by jill, a resident of Birdland
on May 24, 2012 at 8:41 am

Stacey, how do these employment contracts protect the employer? I do not see anything in these public employee contracts that project the employer, only the employee. Please tell me what I am missing.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 24, 2012 at 9:30 am

Stacey is a registered user.

jill,

I'm referring to contracts in general. It is a one-sided view to think of a contract as protecting only one party to it. For example, a collectively bargained public employee contract could contain language protecting a district from having to pay sick day wages if the employee takes a sick day when they are not really sick (see Madison, Wisconsin).


Posted by Who is Dr. Strem?, a resident of Amador Estates
on May 24, 2012 at 9:39 am

Another pot smoking liberal running to be politician. Web Link


Posted by jill, a resident of Birdland
on May 24, 2012 at 11:07 am

Stacey, what is in the district's contracts that protect the district (the taxpayer actually)?

I agree that there are times when a contract benefits the employer but that is very seldom.


Posted by Lorri, a resident of The Knolls
on May 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Why can't the children who are having a hard time reading get help? It seems again that Barton was passed up and overlooked. If you have so many childrend needing this program and so many who have gone threw it who can show it works then why not help to save it? They say they want to but they never do. It is too bad that it cant be about what really helps the kids and not about politics!


Posted by Secret Asst Superintendent?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Children can't get the help they need because the district spends too much of its money on bloated administrator's salaries, like giving the Lodi manager just hired an outrageous $30,000 raise to come to Pleasanton.

And they withhold agendas and contracts from agendas so people don't know about it.

On Tuesday, without posting the contract, they gave the new asst superintendent a nearly $30,000 raise to come from Lodi, where he had been demoted from assoc to asst superintendent to Pleasanton and recently had all out warfare with the Lodi teachers union over his dept having admins taking it upon themselves to arrest teachers. Web Link

His current salary in in Lodi is $136,701 and his new sal/stipend in Pleasanton is $29,089 higher than that. Of course, the public would have known that if the PUSD had not hidden the proposed contract.

Now there will be all out war because again, PUSD has done something purposefully deceitful that makes no financial sense.


Posted by None of the Above, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 24, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Personnel matters, including contract negotiations, are legally closed session items.

The job (and its salary range) was posted on the district's website.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm

But not the actual contract the board took action on in open session, as the last item on the agenda for a meeting that went until 11:30 p.m. or so.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm

My comment was not a reference to the candidate. This is entirely about board action without public access to the document. There is neither a press release or the addition of the contract to the updates for the board meeting. You have to contact HR to get the document. Not the candidate's fault.


Posted by long time parent, a resident of Birdland
on May 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Contract negotiations are for closed session. However, approving a contract is a public action and all the Brown Act rules apply with disclosure.

Lorri, this is the same group of people who say "trust us" when asking for parcel taxes. The district administration, as you probably remember, wanted full control on the money and how it will be spent. The public oversight committee that they also spoke about was to appointed by the same administration (just like the facilities master plan committee was appointed by staff without even the board's input).

I can't believe they keep pulling this stuff on us. You know they will want to put another parcel tax on the ballot but all of these stupid actions they are making is making it harder and harder for the public to trust them.

The administration's number one job is to protect the administration. I feel sorry for this new employee being put into this mess. Or maybe there is more to the story here. This new employee has been saying to the media that he wants a superintendent position. Perhaps the board is bringing him on to work on a transition to superintendent here?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Inside candidates don't get the top job very often from what I've seen. If anything about Dr. Douglas' statements is a concern, it would be whether he will continue to apply for superintendency positions. This curriculum position is one you could argue needs some stability for teachers and students.


Posted by Dr. David Strem, a resident of California Somerset
on May 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Well, isn't this just peachy? So we hire someone at almost $170 grand who offers little of value, and who's likely to spend his days applying for superintendent positions all over the country. Thanks so much for making this astute point, Kathleen. We obviously need all school officials to sign an affidavit attesting to the fact that they will not apply for superintendent positions outside of the district. (Applying for superintendent WITHIN the district is okay because inside candidates rarely if ever get the position, so we're not threatened so much by that.)


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm

DDS, I said it was a concern. Most superintendent retirements or moves to other districts have already been announced anyway. Whether he stays or continues to search is his personal choice.


Posted by Superintendent Watcher, a resident of Hart Middle School
on May 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm

And a very important concern it is, too. This will be something the gossip mongering community will need to vigilantly keep track of. I just cannot believe this candidate wasn't more extensively vetted than he was. Did anyone even bother to raise such an extremely critical issue?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Always the drama queen, eh Mittens.


Posted by Secret Asst Superintendent?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Sounds like Lodi Unified spends more time litigating than actually educating.

A quick search of the San Joaquin superior court system at Web Link is sure full of lawsuits. The search fills up with pages and pages of lawsuits.

This is just the first page.

Carolyn Gladney vs. Lodi Unified School District
Diana C vs. Lodi Unified School District
George Gonzales vs. Lodi Unified School District
Valerie Rose vs. Lodi Unified School District
Brandon Null vs. Lodi Unified School District
Torie C Schantz vs. Lodi Unified School District
Lodi Unified School District vs. Alex James Niktaris
C.G. vs. Lodi Unified School District
Bangar Contractors Corporation vs. Lodi Unified School District
Vantha So vs. Lodi Unified School District
Tamara Stafford vs. Lodi Unified School District
Gayle Manufacturing Co Inc vs. Lodi Unified School District 1
Chalysa Williams vs. Lodi Unified School District
Chalysa Williams vs. Lodi Unified School District
Arika Geiszler vs. Lodi Unified School District
Con J Franke Electric Inc. vs. Lodi Unified School District
Tracey Singh et al VS Lodi Unified School District et al
Amy Jayne Johnson VS Lodi Unified School District
Marelich Mechanical Co. Inc VS Lodi Unified School District
Urata & Sons Cement. Inc.. VS Lodi Unified School District. et al..
People vs Lodi Unified. etc.. et al.
Charles Smith. et al VS Lodi Unified School District. et al Crystal Moreno. etc. vs Lodi Unified School District. et al.


Posted by i've had enough , a resident of Downtown
on May 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I'm done with PUSD crying poverty and cutting programs and increasing class sizes with hands out bleating for donations. Then they hire expensive consultants and administrators with seemingly no conscience. Bowser even said in the board meeting that people had been emailing him asking him to not fill this position. Seeing school staff and administrators regularly spending their working hours dining at Mexico Lindo and enjoying the sunshine at area golf courses (that is what the car allowances are for apparently since you never seem them at the actual schools) means they can't be very busy, doesn't it?

I read an article in the Valley Times yesterday that talked about the lack of voter confidence in elected officials. To borrow from their theme, no wonder the school administration with its actions have an approval record that is only slightly higher than Satan's.

I will never donate to PPIE or the schools again.


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