Sides still at odds over step and column raises for teachers Comments on Stories, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Apr 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm
As Pleasanton prepares once again to vote on a parcel tax, no single issue has received more attention than step and column, the salary schedule for teachers and other certificated employees. Opponents of the tax, Measure E, want to stop step and column increases, saying that the higher pay will cost the district $15 million while the parcel tax will only raise $8 million.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 4:31 PM
Posted by no more teacher raises, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm
It all comes down to greed. The teachers are going to take nearly twice the total of the parcel tax in the form of raises just because they can. While those of us who are expected to pay for their raises may well have been working for many years at reduced pay, if working at all.
Giving out raises, for any reason at all, when asking taxpayers for more money is not reasonable. The parcel tax will pay for nothing other than raises and you can bet the PUSD will be putting another parcel tax on the ballet every year to make up the deficit. Get the costs under control, then come ask for money.
Posted by Tim, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm
The first thing my company management did three years ago when the economy tanked was impose a FREEZE on raises. That is a no brainer. Almost every company has done that, including unionized companies. For parts of our company, we had to take a 5% pay cut.
They plan on giving $15 million in management and teacher raises while they come to the taxpayers for a bailout? And they pay 124 teachers the top pay, $98,045, on the scale?Web Link
Give me a break.
PUSD must have a freeze on automatic step increases for management and certificated raises during the life of a parcel tax before I will even consider voting for it.
Posted by Ruth, a member of the Alisal Elementary School community, on Apr 20, 2011 at 6:52 pm
Just because "it's how it's always been done" with step and column raises doesn't mean it's right. I recall a number of years in my 18 year career with a major corporation when no matter how well I performed on the job, and ranked above average in performance, that my salary was frozen, or a year when the "annual salary program" was set at just 1.5% structure increase, and we felt lucky! No raises were ever automatic or guaranteed. Now, with so many of us without income, job loss, or having to take a temp job just to make the bills, and having to pay for our own insurance due to job loss - oh please! I have very little sympathy. Yes I want good schools for my kids, but the money is not being spent where it needs to be spent. Reform of the teachers/union compensation plan has got to occur before support for a parcel tax will win.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2011 at 7:01 pm
One missed detail is that as a district trying to attract the best, many hirees with experience are given up to six years credit for working elsewhere. That would mean a new hire to the district can start at the seventh step in their appropriate column. Credit for experience is done on the corporate side too, but it should be clear a veteran hiree doesn't start at the bottom of the pay scale.
Posted by Tim, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2011 at 7:26 pm
Ms. Ruegsegger makes an excellent point and one that I did not know.
Also, many school districts have imposed freezes in the salary step raises because of the bad economy. If the PUSD had actually shown good stewardship and fiscal responsibility and sound management, they would have frozen automatic step increases before coming to the voters for a bailout.
Also, PUSD did not even outline how the supposed proceeds from a parcel tax would be allocated across each high school, middle school, and elementary school. You would have thought that they would have been able to provide some sort of detailed allocation spreadsheet of where the funds would be spent. Instead, the language is extremely vague.
If the District were truly interested in saving any programs, they would start with an immediate across the board management salary step freeze, then would negotiate a salary step freeze immediately with the teachers' union.
Instead, they have put forth a parcel tax proposal to net about $7 million, all that will all be spent on automatic salary increases. And they will have to come up with another $ 8 million in 4 years just to pay for "automatic raises."
Posted by Mike , a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2011 at 7:40 pm
Good article. PUSD has tried to mislead the community, this makes it clear.
Measure E is a salary tax. If you are willing to vote yes to a salary tax that is your right. As an informed voter I will vote NO and ask the district to stop taking money from our children's programs for their raises. This economy does not support pay increases.
Posted by optimistic mom, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Apr 20, 2011 at 8:29 pm
I oppose any freeze in column pay. It is not fair to offer incentives for employees to pursue additional education credits at their own cost over several years, and then yank those incentives out from under them.
What continues to be overlooked is the role of furlough days in balancing the budget. The cost of step increases last year was far less than the concessions made by the teachers and staff in furlough days. Because we have many experienced teachers who are at the highest pay on the salary scale, their pay is not affected at all by a freeze. When furlough days are used, the district does not pay them as much, so more money is saved.
Teachers are already doing more work, with more students, and being asked to achieve the same high standards, with fewer days of work and less dollars in pay. Asking them to absorb all the pressure that the recession is putting on our state funding for schools is shortsighted.
Posted by SO...., a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2011 at 8:52 pm
"It is not fair to offer incentives for employees to pursue additional education credits at their own cost over several years, and then yank those incentives out from under them."
May not be "fair" but it happens all the time...my spouse's company discontinued their 50% tuition reimbursement benefit when he was halfway through his master's program...along with freezing raises for 3 years. We had to eat those costs....whoever said life was fair?
Posted by Seabiscuit, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2011 at 9:07 pm
Sorry Sam, this horse is still alive & kicking & DEFINITELY not ready to be put out to pasture yet. Be a good minion & vote a few more times for your union pals, we'll still be here debating even if you say it's safe to back to business as usual.
Posted by Longtime resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2011 at 9:18 pm
I agree with Optimistic Mom- where some get off calling the teachers greedy is really leaving out the real story. After this community voted not to support the schools the teachers took voluntary pay cuts that far exceeded the rise in step and column costs. Far exceeding the costs to the community for one year of the parcel tax- $98 vs. $2000-$4000. Opt. Mom is right in saying that most of the teachers are far along on the salary schedule and are not even moving anymore- or have been frozen for years. That point seems to be ignored from the article.
My family voted yes on Measure E- our teachers already took their share of the shared sacrifice many of you demanded, they should not be asked to pay for our children's education year after year. When do we stop asking them to pay?
Posted by John, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2011 at 10:55 pm
"Giving out raises, for any reason at all, when asking taxpayers for more money is not reasonable."
Not for me. I would support a parcel tax whose sole purpose was to support step and column raises, and I've made my opinion known to the district. There are many people like me out there. Our schools are top notch. We need to support them. PUSD will be hiring new teachers over the next several years. They hired some new teachers this year. We need to make sure they hire the best. If step and column were frozen, there would be a huge incentive for a new hire to work in any other district because none of them would have step and column frozen.
Posted by Tim, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2011 at 11:32 pm
$15,000,000 in cumulative raises for the next four years means, under the assumption most go to mgt and certificated staff, that over $19,000.00 in cumulative raises will be given to each FTE staff position in PUSD during the next four years---in the worst recession since the 1920s where almost every private sector corporation and workers working for those private sector corporations have had pay freezes.
And we wonder why government is broken and the taxpaying public is livid.
Posted by about time, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2011 at 11:51 pm
I stopped looking at these teacher threads for awhile because it always seemed to be dominated by martyrs (er, I mean teachers) whining about how they need their guaranteed bonuses. Glad to see the other side actively speaking about how the rest of the working folk live. Two NO on E votes in the mail and it will always be that way for me until the step and column nonsense is gone and they stop firing some teachers to give raises to others.
Also, you can stop trying to hold the home values over my head, I've already lost so much on my house that it doesn't really matter and would cost me more to rent my own house than it does to own so I'm not going anywhere and I don't care. That's a tired argument.
Posted by Tim , a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 2:39 am
Exactly. Looking at the certificated staffing scattergram (from 2010 on the PUSD website), I find it helpful to look at real numbers.
At Column V, Step 6, there are 14.3 FTEs making $74,815. With a salary freeze, in four years, this will cost PUSD 14.3*$74,815 X 4 = $4,279,418.00
However, with automatic step salary increases, the salaries go up EVERY year so in four years, it will cost $4,613,866.40 which is a difference of $334,448.40 just for 14 employees. It looks like this:
Year 1 14.3*$77,156 Step 7
Year 2 14.3*$79,490 Step 8
Year 3 14.3*$81,839 Step 9
Year 4 14.3*$84,163 Step 10
So the cumulative amount spent on raises alone per person just using this sample of 14 people over 4 years averages out to $334,448.40 / 14.3 FTEs = $23,388 per person.
Now figure out the math for the entire staff. In a down economy, this is unsustainable.
Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 6:56 am
Tim, You also need to include the approx 400 classified employees that are receiving step increases and increases in the longevity bonus. The $1.5M per year in S&C expense increase includes all PUSD employees.
Posted by resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 7:01 am
The no side has consistently backed their argument with numbers and information directly from PUSD. It's difficult because the no "side" are just individuals without outside funding AND the information has been held close to the vest by PUSD. The primary funding for the yes side? Union and district consultant firm.
So if the district pays the consultant and the consultant “donates” to the campaign, who actually funded the glossy “please give us more money” mailings and signs?
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 7:02 am
"Now figure out the math for the entire staff. In a down economy, this is unsustainable."
Perhaps you haven't noticed but the recession is officially over. Yes, the economy is still mending, but what are you asking for? A salary freeze until the year 2015? (4 years away?) Sounds a bit miserly. How about you and all "no" voters also all agreeing to freezing your own salaries for the next 4 years? No? You don't want to do that? Why not if that's what you want to do to the teachers?
Posted by resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 7:10 am
Dave - Did they continue to receive raises during the recession? Yes.
And don't confuse unemployment numbers "improving" because claims are expiring and exiting out the back door with recovery. Unemployment is still stageringly high. And if you are over fifty the rate is more than double.
Posted by John, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 8:08 am
"And don't confuse unemployment numbers "improving" because claims are expiring and exiting out the back door with recovery. Unemployment is still stageringly high."
My employer is in a state of panic because too many people are leaving. I got an "emergency" raise and bonus this quarter as did everyone in my group. If you're in technology the job market hasn't been this good in over 10 years. Silicon Valley is in a hiring frenzy, and I just hired a 57 year old, so that includes people in their fifties. If you're in the financial services industry, or mortgage industry, things are tougher and that is a good thing. They caused this mess, not the teachers or schools. Those are the facts.
Posted by annoyed, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 8:28 am
If I hear one more person say "if you're in technology the job market hasn't been this good in over 10 years" I'm going to scream. We're not in tech or banking or mortgages and things are not good - no one is hiring. Please realize this about your neighbors and if you guys are doing so fantastically great - PLEASE donate some computers, send a HUGE check to PUSD. For goodness sake, do something useful rather than tell the rest of us how great your jobs are. Sounds like you're the winners now, so go ahead throw some money around in a big way for the schools!
Posted by annoyed, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 8:36 am
"I would support a parcel tax whose sole purpose was to support step and column raises, and I've made my opinion known to the district."
This is fine, I totally agree and would vote for it. But that is not what we are supposed to be voting for this time. And until we can afford the raises though a parcel tax dedicated to this, we shouldn't be cutting kids programs and teachers jobs to pay for them.
Posted by Homeowner, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 8:41 am
So many of us moved to Pleasanton because our schools were great. In fact, they still are great, and I am willing to continue to invest in them to support our community and our property values. Sure, we could reject this measure, increase class sizes, eliminate tons of programs and school librarians. Who is going to yell the loudest when our property values suffer because Pleasanton willingly allowed their schools to withdraw from among the best of the best?
Get real, people. This is not about step-and-column raises. This is not a payroll tax. The PUSD is honoring contracts put in place before the fiscal crisis. PUSD can no more bust the union than anyone can willingly default on a contract any of us sign. We are playing the hand we are dealt, and standing on principle to try and defeat step-and-column raises is misplaced sentiment at this juncture. Yes, administrators are also losing their jobs right now...just look at the staff cuts at every single school in Pleasanton.
I love this town and, even though our kids are grown and out of the schools, I will support this measure in a heartbeat.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 8:50 am
""I would support a parcel tax whose sole purpose was to support step and column raises, and I've made my opinion known to the district.""
By doing so, you have done a huge disservice to the students and community
I voted YES on E, but I can tell you that it was a difficult decision. Step and column bother me, the whole idea of having to pay for raises when we have a budget deficit is insane. I voted for E to minimize the cuts, and I am hoping the unions get reformed soon at the state and/or federal level.
People like you, with your "I will gladly pay for raises and bend down to whatever the union says" are a huge problem and perhaps the reason we are not looking into real reform.
To all: please vote YES on E. The problem with the unions is awful but must be reformed at the state and/or federal level. Support Pleasanton kids, please!
Posted by Gio, a resident of the Canyon Creek neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 9:01 am
Don't get duped again, once they get their hands on the money, it will go into their pockets, that's the way it is, and always will be. It's the politics of it, they use the kids to get into your pockets.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 9:07 am
"Not for me. I would support a parcel tax whose sole purpose was to support step and column raises, and I've made my opinion known to the district. There are many people like me out there. Our schools are top notch. We need to support them. PUSD will be hiring new teachers over the next several years. They hired some new teachers this year. We need to make sure they hire the best. If step and column were frozen, there would be a huge incentive for a new hire to work in any other district because none of them would have step and column frozen."
There are many people still undecided about how to vote (my neighbor for instance just made the decision this morning and will be mailing his ballot), so please stop posting.
I vote YES on E (I already sent my ballot in), but I did so because I want to minimize the cuts. I understand the objections to the tax, and you are not helping the YES on E argument. No one wants to give raises in times of deficit. Your company may be doing well, but that is not the situation for PUSD. If your company saw the loss of profits and was facing huge deficits, I can guarantee you that raises would stop until profits were up and the company no longer in the "red."
And as for home values: hello, foreclosures are driving the prices down, not the school district. As for teachers going elsewhere: earth to John: many teachers are unemployed because even good districs with parcel taxes have had to issue pink slips. So STOP, please!!
Everyone: please do not let people like John make you vote no. The problem with the unions is very real, and it is insane to give raises in times of deficit, but this is a problem that must be solved at the state and/or federal levels. So please vote YES on E. Help our students with your YES on E vote, please!!
Posted by resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 9:30 am
Only an idiot negotiates the price of their cargo after shipping it to the customer and unloading it at their dock. If you don't understand this analogy, you are probably one of the panicked masses that has already voted yes on E.
It is nearly universally agreed that the education compensation and evaluation system needs to be reformed. It is nearly universally agreed that public employees need increased accountability and adjusted wage and benefit packages. The few that disagree are those that directly benefit from the current system. Yet we continually get fooled by very well choreographed campaigns funded and led by organized labor unions for the public workers and others that stand to directly benefit from the increased revenues. In fact it is often your own tax money that indirectly funds the campaign for MORE of your tax money.
The money is not for the children. It’s to continue to fund the raises and pensions. If you are a homeowner, or aspire to be one at some point in your life, stand up for yourself by voting no.
Posted by Tim, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 9:34 am
The decision to freeze raises or give raises to management and certificated staff or not is entirely made at the local, yes the local level, not the state or federal level.
The decision to give the last superintendent a $200,000 interest free loan to help buy his house was made at the local level.
The decision to have management receive perks like $7,200 car allowances was made at the local level.
There is no blaming the state or federal govt folks, but your own elected representatives and their weakness, i.e., their failure to either impose a salary freeze or negotiate union contracts that contain a salary freeze provision during the term of the parcel tax.
Posted by Jill, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 9:51 am
"There is no blaming the state or federal govt folks"
The pension decisions, like age of retirement, and retirement amounts must be made at the state level. Those are the main problems, in my opinion. I voted yes on Measure E because it keeps money in our district. I agree with "Resident."
Posted by Jill, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 9:54 am
I think people like John may be the ones may be responding more with emotion than reason. Maybe he spent too much for his house and doesn't want it to lose value. I don't know. That doesn't mean that reasonable people can't vote for Measure E.
Posted by Arnold, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 9:55 am
If there are 715 teachers at an average salary of 80K then pensionable wages = $57,200,000. If the expected CalSTRS rate increase is 13.9% then the additional cost is 7,950,000 dollars per year. Those numbers are based on an unfunded liability of 40B, and a discount rate of 8%. Since the report, the discount rate has been lowered to 7.75% and the unfunded liability has grown to 56B.
Here is a link to the recently released CalSTRS actuarial report. Section 8 (Funding Sufficiency) begins on page 37 of the report: Web Link
Here are some comments from the LAO regarding CalSTRS:
"In the final analysis, the system's unfunded liabilities as of its June 30, 2009 valuation--$40.5 billion--will require far larger additional payments from the state, school districts, and/or teachers than those required by Section 22955(b) in 2011-12 and future years. As of that valuation, actuaries determined that the system needed contributions equal to an additional 13.9 percent of teacher payroll--over $3.8 billion per year--from some source, beginning immediately, to retire its unfunded liabilities over 30 years, thereby preventing additional intergenerational transfers of teachers' compensation costs. (The TRB's decision to lower its assumed average annual rate of investment return to 7.75 percent in December 2010 will affect these calculations in future valuations. In this recent board agenda item, actuaries estimated this would increase the additional funding need from 13.9 percent of payroll to 15.1 percent. At that time, CalSTRS staff had recommended instead a drop in the assumed investment return rate to 7.5 percent, which would have increased the estimate of additional funding need even further to 16.8 percent of payroll.)
Given these grim statistics concerning the fiscal health of CalSTRS, another option for the Legislature would be to voluntarily contribute the $35.5 million to the system at some point in 2011-12, despite the system's contention that no July 2011 payment will be required. This $35.5 million would reduce what would otherwise be the state's future payment obligations--already significant--by a very small amount."
Posted by Jill, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 9:58 am
What you've posted sounds like your making a case for voting yes on Measure E. If we have funds from Measure E, PUSD will be better positioned to increase pension contributions if required from the state, right?
Posted by Tim, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 10:00 am
Resident said -"No one wants to give raises in times of deficit" but that is exactly what PUSD is doing. They are running at a deficit and still want to hand out automatic salary increases. When corporations have expenses that exceed revenues, they impose a salary freeze. PUSD needs to do the same.
Also, the topic of the thread is not retirement and pensions, but what employees are paid now, which for certificated salaries is one of the highest in the State, and the raises they are automatically given now, and what is actually negotiated by the Local School Board.
Certificated employees get automatic step increases, but there are fewer steps, and these steps mean automatic salary increases.
Classified employees get automatic step increases as well. Also they get longevity payments which amount to 3% after 5 years, 4% after 10 years, 5% after 15 years, 6% after 20 years, 7% after 25 years and 8% after 30 years.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 10:10 am
Jill, I'm with John and I don't see his arguments as being more "emotional" than anyone else here. I think that you picked a poor target. Your snarky comment: "Maybe he spent too much for his house and doesn't want it to lose value. I don't know." was also a bit of a cheap shot.
Posted by Arnold, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 10:41 am
What I'm saying is that increasing compensation when you don't have the money, and you are aware of the looming pension problem, increasing compensation is beyond irresponsible. Speaking of irresponsible:
"Faraghan said any major changes could have consequences for Pleasanton.
"Pretty much every school I'm aware of in the state -- all of our neighboring districts -- have a step and column in place. Were we not to have a step and column in place, we would lose teachers because of that," he said."
Who said anything about eliminating step & column increases; it is inevitable that other districts will also freeze compensation. I guess this person thinks it's ok to march off a cliff because everyone else is doing it. You would think someone with a director’s title could demonstrate a little more vision.
The district was established to serve the educational needs of the students. If people could keep that in mind then preserving the long-term fiscal health of the district makes the decision on compensation an easy one, IMO.
Posted by Fair is Fair, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 10:56 am
I voted Yes. We all know education is hurting. We all know the teacher's contract has these increases. So this was my thought process:
1. If I vote No, would that stop the teacher pay increases?... no.
2. If I vote Yes, would that help ease the economic pain felt by the district?... yes.
3. If I were the Union, would I vote to freeze pay increases until the economy turns around?... yes.
4. If I were the District, would I have introduced good faith negotiations with the teachers union to come to a decision to freeze pay for now but keep jobs?... yes.
5. Would my voting No make 3 or 4 happen?... I don't think so.
6. Would my voting Yes show to my children (thru their eyes) that I value education and am willing to pay extra hard earned dollars to invest in their education/future?... yes.
7. Would my voting No show my children that $100 a year is too much for me to spend on their education, but that it's not too much when they see me buy a $100 pair of shoes? .... yes.
(I realize for many of us, the parcel tax would actually create a hardship... but I'm assuming that if it would, I wouldn't be buying $100 shoes anyway).
8. Is 6 the message I want to teach my children and not 7?....yes.
In the end, I don't think a No vote teaches the Union or the Distict or State a lesson. Instead, I think if I voted Yes I would be teaching my children a lesson I want them to learn - that it's okay to put my money where my mouth is.
Just wanted to share my thought process. I'm sure some don't see it the way I do... that's okay and healthy for a democracy.
Posted by Linda, a resident of the Bridle Creek neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 11:53 am
Fair is Fair, I respect your willingness to acknowledge the concern about compensation is real. The difference I see is, looking the other way and allowing bad behavior and abuse has allowed this crisis to build. I would rather my children see that I am willing to stand up when I see something is wrong. They know I value them and their education from my high level of support and they know I love our community by my high level of involvement.
Posted by no more teacher raises, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm
Fair is Fair, it seems to me that what you want to teach your kids is that spending without having money to pay for things is just fine. Have you given them credit cards yet? Cause you can just tell them to spend whatever amount they want and they can come to you time after time after time to pay their bills.
PUSD needs to live within the budget. The first thing to help with that is to stop automatic pay raises. I don't care WHAT is happening in the economy or WHY you think the teachers deserve the money. You think that teaching your kids to spend what they don't have is right as long as it is for a "good cause".
My company cut pay for all employees by half about 8 years ago. We are leaner now and still in business, better than being unemployed. Did that hurt my lifestyle -- not at all. Because I have always spent LESS than I have earned. You need to think about teaching that lesson to your kids.
Posted by Educated, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Apr 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm
The biggest issue I have with the district/union is the inability to get rid of bad teachers. My 2 children have had a total of 3 teachers that I consider terrible and several others that are very mediocre. 2 of the 3 terrible teachers have over 30 years in the district, and therefore are at the top of the pay scale and will NEVER risk a layoff. One was on "mental health leave" for a year while the district tried to fire her. She is now back, wasting more students' time and getting top pay.
Some of the very best teachers my kids have had were the young, energetic ones with under 6 years experience and therefore near the bottom of the pay scale. They are the first to go when layoffs happen. My children have been quite vocal about the unfairness, to students and teachers, of this system.
Additionally, I would much rather have 35 students in the classroom of an excellent teacher than 20 students in the classroom of a mediocre or worse teacher.
Until your child has had a really bad teacher, you have no idea what it does to their motivation, their attitude about school, and how it impacts them for the next several years, especially when it is in a subject like math where each year builds on the previous year. They change lives for the worse in the same way that an excellent teacher can change lives for the better.
If the district had the power the keep the effective teachers and lay off the lazy, worn out, out of touch, or just plain bad teachers, this would reduce costs but more importantly increase the quality of the district and therefore our home values.
Until the district is willing to stand up to the union on seniority and tenure issues, I will continue to VOTE NO when they ask for more money.
Posted by sherry, a member of the Valley View Elementary School community, on Apr 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm sherry is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I retired a year ago from a neighboring district so my numbers vary a bit from Pleasanton's. I retired at the top of my salary schedule with a masters degree and 39 years of experience, my salary was $85,000. I do not consider myself a "martyr" or "greedy" as described in above comments, but I do believe I was worth every penny I was paid.
Ruth recalls a number of years in her 18 year career that her salary was frozen; So's spouse's company discontinued their 50% tuition reimbursement 1/2 way through his Masters program and froze raises for 3 years. It sounds like that was very difficult for both of you. I experienced the similiar events but was able to see on my salary schedule that I:
*would have to pay for my entire masters degree
*after 12yrs. would get raises at years 16, 20 and 24 with no further raises
available on the salary schedule.
I continued to teach 15 more years knowing there were no more raises on the salary schedule and you know What? I'm glad I did, my children and my families have given me so much, I thank You! (But it is disheartening to see so much negativity addressed to so many who truly give their all for "our" children."
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm
These automatic pay raises (which, incidentally appear to be only 3% per step) might look relatively good to many at this particular point in our economic cycle, but remember that they were also 3% steps during the go-go days of the dot-com boom and the subsequent housing bubble boom when many people were raking in much larger annual raises. You know, the days when you saw ads for realtors smiling in front of their brand-new Hummers (funny, I haven't seen any of those type ads shamelessly flaunting the wealth of the realtor owners recently).
This economic down cycle will end and then, as always, we'll have another boom period with everyone enjoying great annual raises and perhaps another housing boom or two. I've seen it happen many, many times. So all of you complaining about your raises (or lack thereof) will stop complaining and go living life merrily along. But what about the teachers? Will you stop and remember that the teachers are still slogging along with 3% step raises if they are eligible for a step, and 0% plus a possible small COLA if they're not? Will you come on these forums and say "Hey! What about the teachers! They should get better raises, too!" I doubt it. When times get a bit tough, you complain about teachers. When times are great, you forget about them. The teachers are playing by the same salary rules that they did during the boom years. The reason you didn't complain then was because you were getting larger salary increases at that time, a fact that you conveniently like to forget.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm
The fact is, Pleasanton has the highest avg household income for a mid-size city in the U.S. (I believe it is around or above $110K). The fact is, MOST of our teachers make much less than this. I guess I am appalled at the fact that people who make at least the avg income want to make sure PUSD teachers can't even afford to live here.
Posted by Tim , a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm
Hey Dave, I wish I lived in the Golden Eagle gated community like you do, but I don't. And I don't have a Hummer, but I do have a 14 year old car with over 140,000 miles on it that needs a new transmission. And my salary is lower than the "Golden" top teacher and administrative salaries in PUSD. Plus I certainly won't have a gold-plated pension and be paid 80% of my top salary for the rest of my life.
Handing out $15 million in automatic raises over the course of four years, equivalent to around $20,000 in cumulative raises per FTE (full time equivalent position) in the District, is completely irresponsible.
Also as the raises increase salaries, the PUSD has to pay even more money into CALSTRS and CALPERS for pensions. For the 2009-2010 year, PUSD paid $5.6 million into CALSTRS and $1.4 million into CALPERS. Raises means more money that needs to pour into CALSTRS/CALPERS.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm
Tim:"Handing out $15 million in automatic raises over the course of four years, equivalent to around $20,000 in cumulative raises per FTE (full time equivalent position) in the District, is completely irresponsible."
And YET you didn't complain about teacher raises during the boom years, did you? Why? Probably because teacher raises of 3% (for those teachers who are eligible) didn't seem so much, did it? You want to have it both ways: You want teachers to plod along with relatively minor raises during the boom years AND then all undergo salary freezes when times get tough. Hey, I personally have no problem with teachers' salaries booming during the boom years (just like almost everyone else's) and then freezing during the down years. Sure, that's what we have in the private sector. But then that's not how their salary structure is set up, is it? Choose one or the other: Either (1) they enjoy the same boom and bust as the private sector, or (2) they plod along with a modest salary structure in both good times and bad.
Tim: "Hey Dave, I wish I lived in the Golden Eagle gated community like you do, but I don't. And I don't have a Hummer, but I do have a 14 year old car with over 140,000 miles on it that needs a new transmission. And my salary is lower than the "Golden" top teacher and administrative salaries in PUSD."
I wasn't given a house in Golden Eagle. I paid for it through my own efforts - same as you and everyone else. If you have a complaint about your salary, then take steps to improve your skills and attractiveness to businesses. The fact that you feel you have to drive a 14 year old car with a bad transmission may be either due to unfortunate circumstances out of your control or (more likely) your own fault. In either case, it's not the fault of the teachers. But rather than taking steps to improve your situation, you won't be happy until everyone else is brought down to your level and all the teachers are driving 15 year old cars with bad transmissions and bad engines. Grow up.
Posted by Arnold, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm
If you need an 8 million dollar parcel tax, over four years, to help pay for 15 million dollars in increased compensation over the same time frame, can you really afford to do anything other than freeze compensation? What happens when the parcel tax expires? Does the increased cost structure just disappear? No, it doesn’t. What then? This seems like the same methodology used by many cities in the housing boom years; use one time funds to fund ongoing costs. Haven't we learned anything? Are we destined to repeat the mistakes of the past and add even more school districts to the same category as many of our financially destitute cities? That would be much, much more than a shame. Our kids deserve better!
If the district can't afford to cover raises in their budget, without the help of a parcel tax, what are they going to do when the CalSTRS pension contribution increases by 15% (+) of payroll in 2012? Where is that 9 million per year going to come from? Are we going to need to cut classes/periods? I'm sure the first thing to go will be ALL SPORTS/Music Programs. How many new teachers will need to be let go? Has the district run the numbers to determine the impact?
Here is a thought, if this is the best that the PUSD can come up with maybe consideration should be given to consolidating Tri-Valley school districts, at least the ones in Alameda County (Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton). I think we are starting to see a growing trend in regionalization of services to increase efficiency and decrease costs. If the idea is to put more money in the classroom then why not eliminate 2 of the three districts and use that money to fund the increased wages & pension costs? Based on what I'm seeing, it is time to move in that direction.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
It's the highest MEDIAN, not average. It means that half of Pleasanton households earn less than that and half earn more. Why don't those who earn more pay more?
I'd like to think that the reason people don't complain about raises during good economic times is because there is money to afford the raises. Now we are talking about raises being given when there is no money. Instead we're laying off teachers and cutting programs. It is only reasonable to complain about that.
Posted by Tim, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm
PUSD during the "boom time" between the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years gave out, in addition to automatic step/column salary increases, $6 million dollars in raises to its management and certificated personnel. Its salaries are higher than any salary schedule for certificated personnel in all of Alameda County.
PUSD management failed to take the first step and have a management freeze in salaries. It failed to lead by example. It has also failed because it did not require its unions to have a salary freeze. To PUSD, it is business as usual, in spite of the fact that they are holding their hands out to the voters asking for more money --- in order to support their automatic raises.
Some Districts that have failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation and lack the "guts" to freeze or cut salaries end up being taken over by the State and put into "receivership" until it gets its financial act together. If PUSD does not initiate a salary freeze, it could very well happen to PUSD.
Posted by Tim, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm
With its extremely high teacher salaries, the Pleasanton Unified School District is still in NCLB "program improvement" status, meaning the district must improve test scores under the federal No Child Left Behind act.
Paying $15 million in raises while laying off numerous energetic teachers during the next 4 years will not solve any problems, but just cause more problems. Automatic pay raises mean every year teachers will get laid off.
A salary freeze during the next four years will preserve teachers' jobs and retain programs.
Vote No on Measure E and demand that PUSD impose a salary freeze on its administrators and staff.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm
"With its extremely high teacher salaries, the Pleasanton Unified School District is still in NCLB "program improvement" status, meaning the district must improve test scores under the federal No Child Left Behind act."
This is not PUSD's fault. NCLB is unreasonable, like many of the Bush policies.
Please vote YES on E, the students of Pleasanton will appreciate it!
Posted by Parent, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Apr 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm
Citizens did question the union contracts and administrative raises but the arrogant attitude of the district was not receptive. The unions bullied and the administrators knew they could suck up more for themselves if they kept the unions pacified. The majority of the trustees have been bobble-head yes men so everything goes unchecked.
Parents have been buying their children's school supplies and tissue so the money provided by the state for our students could instead go to perks and salary. Now they are taking away programs to pay their raises.
The unions are a far second to the administrators for blame S&C must be frozen but administrator perks must end and their salaries reduced at least 5%.
Posted by comment, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2011 at 8:43 am
"A salary freeze during the next four years will preserve teachers' jobs and retain programs.
Vote No on Measure E and demand that PUSD impose a salary freeze on its administrators and staff."
Voting no on Measure E will not cause that to happen. All that will happen is that more programs will be cut and more teachers will be fired. I was still undecided, but I will be sending in my vote in favor.
Posted by Longtime resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm
What we do have is qualified professionals working in our schools who do know the difference in what works and what doesn't with their students. My son's teachers have worked collaboratively throughout his elementary years to get him the best resources available to him during the school day. This has made all the difference for him.
This is not something measured in a statistic you can google- this is personal, individualized, professional judgement that is taking place daily in Pleasanton schools. And it has worked! Since when do we not trust the analysis of our teachers and what they are saying about what is effective? Have you asked them what is the biggest bang for the buck, or are you only looking at data analysis that is removed from our classrooms?
Thank you teachers for going above and beyond what is required to help make this district as successful as it is.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Please do not confuse the issue of funding based upon program effectiveness with individualized instruction. When resources are limited, a combination of professional judgement and research analysis needs to be brought into play in order to determine where those resources are best utilized. Asking for professional judgement from the front lines is part of that research.
But right now, the way programs are identified for cutting is dependent upon whatever is popular with parents. If the community doesn't understand the impact that reading and early reading intervention have upon learning, drop-out statistics, and graduation outcomes, for example, reading specialists become easy to cut over another program. Perhaps professional judgement would value professional development over CSR, but that isn't considered either. CSR is popular with parents while professional development is not even though teacher quality has one of the biggest impacts on student outcomes.
When we don't ask the important question of how those results were arrived at, we are doing a great disservice not only to a future PUSD, but also to other schools and districts that are not producing the same kinds of results. It's like someone drinking tea prepared from willow bark and having their headache go away then not discovering aspirin because the result from the tea was so great.
Posted by Longtime resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm
I think you misunderstood what I wrote- I didn't say individualized instruction- I said personal, individualized decisions about the programs needed to meet his needs. These teachers know what programs in our schools are working and what is simply a bandaid over the issue.
Are you saying the teachers dont have don't have input or say into programs in our schools? What do you know about their influence for smaller class sizes? Have you seen the types of input they provide- do you know the answers to your questions? Your comments seem to lack knowledge about our local schools and seem to reflect broad research. Measure E is about local funding for our schools, not based upon what the research shows in other states where the playing field may be different.
I ask because this information is available- being involved on school site council, PTA, and volunteering at different schools I have witnessed these answers first hand. To say it is just popular from parents seems to be coming from just watching school board meetings. The teachers are very clear, professional and upfront about how to help all children succeed, regardless of their individual needs. The district has never stopped asking them, who do you think provides the teacher development during these cost saving times? The teachers do it- for free- I sat in on one of these trainings- it was extremely impressive, effective and innovative. It's the teachers who participate on the committees for curriculum and instruction changes and decisions.
My point was that it seems like many distrust the teachers input based on the writings here. Also seems like, they have completely bypassed even asking the teachers themselves and have simply made assumptions based on their opinions- and broad research rather than what is actually occurring to affect and influence programs in the schools in Pleasanton.
My point was that the teachers at my children's school have been professional, effective, and trustworthy regardless of popularity, but based on the outcome of their work.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
The issue of providing funding is still being confused. Given limited resources, which programs merit funding? If the goal is to produce educated people, what criteria will you use to measure the programs' effectiveness towards that goal? How will programs be ranked? Ideally resources would not be limited, but they are.
Anecdotes are not really evidence. It is difficult to draw conclusions about funding from them. This isn't an issue about trust, but about cost-benefit analysis. Professional opinion informs the answers to the questions, but is only one criteria.
Don't know if you remember, the BAC ranked programs during Measure G with little apparent criteria, just opinion. CSR was ranked highly yet it made the cut list. I haven't looked to see how programs were ranked this round. CSR is making the cut list again. If it is such an effective program, why isn't something else being cut?
Posted by John, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm
"When we don't ask the important question of how those results were arrived at"
You're not asking a question, you're answering it for yourself and using that as a reason to vote no on Measure E. Do you know every detail of the districts decision making process in minute detail? How would you have time for that?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2011 at 3:37 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I have been clear here before about my reasons for voting no on Measure E. They're pretty much the same as for Measure G. Let me repeat them for your benefit: it is structured as a regressive tax when it doesn't have to be and is vaguely written in such a way that there's little accountability.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Sure you didn't ask, but you wrote: "you're answering it for yourself and using that as a reason to vote no on Measure E". I clarified the assumption you made about my reasons for voting no.
I thought I was discussing with you regarding your assumption that PUSD is investing in programs with the biggest bang for the buck and not just pouring money everywhere. There is no need to get into the level of detail you seem to think is needed. It is enough to look at the higher level of what decisions were made, how decisions were made, and what information was made available to make those decisions. That doesn't take a lot of time. My opinion is that the decisions that were made and are being made in no way reflect the idea of investing in programs that have the biggest band for the buck.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2011 at 7:22 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Look, an easy, if highly unlikely, example... if someone made a decision to cut CSR because the coin landed on heads instead of tails, you'd question that no matter what the API scores were. Of course the decision to cut CSR isn't being made like that. If you want to say that PUSD is investing in programs with the biggest bang for the buck and it turns out that CSR is one of those programs, then it being cut either means it isn't the biggest bang for the buck or they are not making decisions based on that investment style.
Posted by Have you Been?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm
Does anyone of you truly know what it takes to be a teacher? That is an honest question.
I imagine very few of those that are voting No on E have been inside a classroom in decades. Some may have, but I believe the majority have not seen the inside of a classroom - IN SESSION - in a long, long time.
Things are quite different than in 'the day':
• 34 children in a classroom with 1 teacher.
• Language barriers that are more common than ever before
• Children that are depressed more than ever
• Children committing suicide as they see it as the only way ‘out’
• Children on ‘medication’ more than ever
• Children from homes with severe physical abuse
• Children from homes with severe mental abuse
• Children with weapons on campus
These are not issues only found in the ‘inner cities’. They are issues faced each day by teachers IN PLEASANTON and all the surrounding communities. And, this is not a list of “either/or”. All of these items happen in single classrooms….and for 1 teacher.
Place yourself in the classroom, dedicating your heart and soul to these children. Being a teacher, a nurse, a psychologist, a family counselor, sending e mails and taking phone calls from parents until late each evening.
These are not the out-of-the-ordinary situations. These are the NORM.
We send kids off to school and expect the world out of the staff….yet, when this district needs the stable funding that would come from Measure E, you degrade teachers. The state is not going to bail anyone out. Less money from the state places all districts in jeopardy.
If for no other reason, please vote to provide stable funding for 4 years to this district. The teachers do a remarkable job. They have made concessions. And, yes, many of us have also had to make concessions in our jobs. But, to not see the direct impact of less money going to the district, and what it takes to teach in this day and age rising greatly, then uou are definitely someone that has not stepped in a classroom in decades.
If you think I am kidding…..go and sit in a classroom. Go ahead.
Yes on E.....and Thank You to those that have CHOSEN to Teach.
P.S. No, I am not a teacher, and not an employee of any school district.
Posted by John, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 24, 2011 at 12:27 am
" It is enough to look at the higher level of what decisions were made, how decisions were made, and what information was made available to make those decisions."
How do you know you looked at "what information was made available to make those decisions"? Did you look at everything they looked at? Do you have the same level of experience making these kinds of decisions?
Posted by nighthawk, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 24, 2011 at 2:06 am
I support S and C and the union that helps to maintain it. Without it, chaos would reign with teachers pitted against other teachers, and students would feel the negative effects. Yes, the union and S and C produces something of a leveling effect (though still preserving some hierarchy based on added education and seniority). But that is the 'price' one pays for having union representation. I do not find teachers salaries in PUSD to be excessive, at all. In fact, given the very strong performance of PUSD schools on a comparative state-wide basis, I'm surprised teachers are not making higher salaries. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why posters spend what appears to be the majority of their lives on these topic threads trying to undermine all that is good with PUSD schools. They seem to come in three varieties: (1) there's the obsessive internet addict with a numbers fetish; (2) there's the huge (but also sadly weak) ego which incessantly demands attention and affirmation; (3) and there's the ignorant and poorly educated old goat who shows a deep-seated loathing for teachers and all other manner of education-related things that have passed him by.
Posted by Longtime resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm
Well said Have you been.....
I came across this article written by a teacher which so clearly speaks to what life is like in the classroom these days. Time after time teachers have tried to explain how teaching is different than it was when you were in school, yet people just call it complaining. Not once have I heard a teacher here complain that their salary was too low, only that they have had to defend and explain the actual job to deaf ears. Is it that you don't want to know the truth? Does that make it easier to criticize, humiliate, and campaign against our successful schools?
Try reading the whole article, and HEAR what this teacher is saying about education today:
Posted by John, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 25, 2011 at 9:07 am
Are you still reading this? I asked:
How do you know you looked at "what information was made available to make those decisions"? Did you look at everything they looked at? Do you have the same level of experience making these kinds of decisions?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Well, since the information made available to trustees must be in the public record, one can be reasonably sure they are looking at the same information upon which decisions are being made. It doesn't take a lot of time to read a meeting agenda, agenda attachments (staff reports), meeting minutes. And then there's the California education policy and research news sites, LAO, PPIC, etc..
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 25, 2011 at 4:54 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
This article is about equitable funding: Web Link It has something in it that echoes what I have been trying to explain above about investing in programs based on their effectiveness.
"Jason Willis, former budget director in Oakland and now CFO for Stockton Unified, attributed the switch to “results-based budgeting” to at least partially explaining why the increase in Oakland’s test scores was among the highest in the state for the past six years. The increase in money was accompanied by a shift in decision making to the school level – an important factor, he said."
Posted by John, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 26, 2011 at 8:09 am
"It doesn't take a lot of time to read a meeting agenda, agenda attachments (staff reports), meeting minutes. And then there's the California education policy and research news sites, LAO, PPIC, etc.."
Doesn't take a lot of time? You've been doing that for all the meetings, and reading all the background material? Why not write up a document spelling out all the specifics where you would spend funding dollars, including how much you would put into each program? Then show how your plan differs from the school's.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 26, 2011 at 9:25 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
You claim that PUSD is investing in effective programs where I said they are not. To be able to tell this it is enough to look at, among other things, "what information was made available to make those decisions". If I thought the information necessary to make a decision to cut based upon program effectiveness was available (was being made available, was being asked for (Remember the homework survey?)), then I wouldn't be saying they are not investing in effective programs. Through a different approach such determining cost-benefit/impact of a program's effectiveness towards organizational goals, cuts would become self-evident and there would be no need for independent citizens to write up specific plans on their own.
Posted by John, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2011 at 8:37 am
"You claim that PUSD is investing in effective programs where I said they are not. "
Based on their results.
"If I thought the information necessary to make a decision to cut based upon program effectiveness was available (was being made available, was being asked for (Remember the homework survey?)), then I wouldn't be saying they are not investing in effective programs."
Available to whom?
" Through a different approach such determining cost-benefit/impact of a program's effectiveness towards organizational goals"
That's my point. How can you be sure there was no cost/benefit analysis done, at any level?