Town Square

Post a New Topic

Pleasanton school board reaches deal with teachers union, issues layoffs

Original post made on May 10, 2012

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

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 10, 2012, 7:39 AM

Comments (21)

Posted by Chemist, a resident of Downtown
on May 10, 2012 at 8:32 am

Why doesn't the School Board cut some of the bloat at the top. We have too many administrators making $150,000 and up. Actually, we could cut ALL of the administrators since it is their administrative assistants who make a decent salary and do all the work anyway. Keep the teachers and cut the bloat.


Posted by Susan, a resident of Del Prado
on May 10, 2012 at 9:28 am

"More positions were to have been eliminated, but the remainder came from retirements, resignations, unpaid leaves of absence and job-sharing among employees, according to Bill Faraghan, assistant superintendent of human resources."

AND.....from the hard work and dedication from PPIE and their MANY donors that saved hours of tech support, library hours, a reading specialist, and potentially counseling and / or added sections for high schools. Why is this not mentioned??????


Posted by None of the Above, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm

@Susan,

Possibly because they're members of CSEA and haven't gotten their pink slips yet.


Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm

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

Thanks for that paragraph, Glenn. This is one of the issues that I could not get clear about even after my questions on Tuesday night.

I'm glad that voluntary professional development (aka "teacher training" or "continuing education credits" for teachers) is being brought back, and acknowledging that there are costs associated with doing so is important.

I'm still puzzled about high school collaboration and late start Wednesdays. It saved money when it was cut so I'm trying to make sense of how bringing it back has no cost.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Sandy
I'm confused about the late start on Wednesday as well? I don't understand how this computes into a savings or cost at all? I would have thought the cost (teacher salary) is the same since it is the same number of hours worked...just a difference of whether or not the students come late? Wondering what I am missing?


Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 10, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Ms. Ahmadi said very clearly that there is no cost to collaboration, but I didn't have a chance to ask her how that squares with the cost savings that were counted 2-3 years ago when collaboration was suspended (I think that was before she was hired, too).

I think I will have a chance to ask this question next week, so I'll update here when I learn more.


Posted by sara, a resident of Avila
on May 11, 2012 at 10:40 am

Maybe the adminstration at PUSD need to take salaries less than 200K+ /year.


Posted by sj, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Anytime a government official says "there is no cost to this", do not believe a word they say on anything. We all heard this same line on state pension increases, "this will not cost you anything."

There is always a cost. In this case, it is possible the dollar amount does not increase but the amount of education time for the kids will probably decrease (cut in service).

If collaboration were always free, why would we care how much collaboration they have and why would this even be a negotiation point?


Posted by Nomad, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Only from the mouths of people like Trustee Jeff Bowser you hear phrases like "magic money". How unprofessional and disrespectful.


Posted by VINNY, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on May 13, 2012 at 7:35 am

The least cost effective way to teach a class is "job sharing".
You have 2 teachers drawing half the salary but BOTH getting full benefits (pension, medical)

But it ain't their money after all. Joan Larsen says that she is happy the council has a good relationship with the teachers union.
Of course they do. The council rolls over every time. More furlough days? WHY NOT A PAY AND BENEFIT CUT.


Posted by Daniel Bradford, a resident of Foothill High School
on May 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm

A recent article in the New York Times quoted a reputable study that showed that teacher morale is at an all-time low: many teachers are burned out, frustrated, and want to quit.

The #1 reason for low teacher morale isn't lack of pay; rather, it's a constant drumbeat of public criticism as teachers are made the scapegoats for a crisis in public finances that they didn't create.

Web Link
---------------------------------------
The number of teachers who were very or fairly likely to change professions jumped from 17 to 29 percent since 2009.

Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, said teachers are in a tough position in the current political debates about education.

"No one wants to think that their work is undervalued or being blamed," she said. "The rhetoric has been so heated that it makes it hard for teachers to feel good day in and day out."
-------------------------------
Every year, we teachers are asked to do more with less resources, and no matter what we do, we hear the same criticism: we're not doing our jobs...we're lazy...we're overpaid...this comes from both the politicians and the public. I've moved on to the college level, so I don't hear the worst of it, but I feel badly for my colleagues at the K-12 level.


Posted by Nomad, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 13, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Daniel - your first sentence has two severe inaccuracies. First, the MetLife study doesn't use the word 'morale' in the 130 page report. Second, the measure of 'very satisfied' teachers (assuming that is the statistic you are calling 'morale') is not at an "all-time low". In fact, in 1986, that figure was 11 percentage points lower than today. If you are the Daniel Bradford who used to be employed by PUSD, I'm even more glad you are no longer around my kids. Critical reading, analysis and writing are essential in today's world and we need the best staff at PUSD to teach them.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Nomad,
I'll add that the survey is a good read and everyone should read it. It doesn't say anything about low morale being caused by "a constant drumbeat of public criticism as teachers are made the scapegoats for a crisis in public finances that they didn't create".


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 13, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

BTW, who says that teachers are to blame for the crisis in public finances?


Posted by Daniel Bradford, a resident of Foothill High School
on May 14, 2012 at 6:58 am

Dear anonymous writers:

I don't argue with people who don't believe enough in their own arguments to attach their names to it. Pseudonyms, in other words, are for cowards and bullies, the sort of people who like to lob a glob of mud at somebody's back and then run away as fast as they can.

Suffice to say that when I entered the teaching profession in my 20s, teachers asked for, and received, only two things: that our students grew emotionally and intellectually under our guidance, and that society accorded us the respect we had earned.

It's now nearly three decades later, and teachers are now the object of scorn and derision by people who are so desperate for someone, anyone, to blame for the ongoing economic crisis that they attack us without any regard for the work we have done and continue to do. We never asked for a lot of money, or public acclaim, or anything, but the respect that we earned, and now we don't even get that.

The attacks on the teaching profession, along with the virulent anti-unionism, started well before the economic crisis metastasized in 2007, but it is not a coincidence that the most vigorous attacks against teachers, our pensions, even the conception of our profession as professionals and not overpaid babysitters, have been in the past five years.

Ok, I get it: the Wall Street bankers are too big and too strong to hit, and besides, they hate unions, too, so there must be some good in them...so attack the teachers. We're here, and relatively vulnerable, and it's easy to blame us. But make no mistake about it, the unrelenting attacks by politicians and the public, beginning with the odious "No Child Left Behind" law and continuing with the "dissolve all the unions, cut the pay of teachers by 20%, divest their pensions!" cry today is absolutely corrosive to the morale of teachers and will not only drive good people out of the profession, but prevent many more from ever entering it.

In other words, you reap what you sow. If you think teaching morale is high, talk to actual teachers instead of chattering amongst your golfing partners and business associates. I know a lot of teachers, and most of them attribute their low morale to the constant public floggings to which we are subjected, being blamed for a crisis for which we bear no responsibility.

But since talking to people actually *in* the teaching profession has the potential to endanger the existing worldview of the Anonymous Critic Brigade, they won't do that.

California now has a $16 billion dollar annual deficit, and we are facing the prospect of having a school year that is shortened by up to three weeks. Teachers and students are not to blame for this, but I'm certain they will be made to suffer for it.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 14, 2012 at 8:36 am

Daniel, I would agree it would be difficult to claim morale is high for teachers. For one thing, with pink slips flying, this is the worst time of year and it coincides with one of the biggest pressures, getting students to perform well on testing. I can't imagine trying to "keep up the good work" after March 15 each year.

But some ideas have been offered for addressing the very real looming problems of defined benefit plans, early retirement, spiking, and lifetime health benefits. The roadblocks to change, I believe, are thrown up by union leadership. I say that purposefully because I don't know that individuals teachers always agree with that leadership.

While I personally have strong feelings about unions, I think there are other approaches that don't involve dissolving them. I also believe teachers should make more. The argument that teachers work a shorter year disregards their contribution to society. If we look at the "value add" financial types like to talk about, then teachers are grossly underpaid.

As to the state's financial picture, it is a merry-go-'round. People get elected and are often beholding to union support to get them there (again, union is purposeful--teachers must pay dues to unions, unions use some of the money for political gain, teachers may or may not actually vote for those being supported by the union). And I don't mean for that to be about Democrats. I don't think a majority of Republicans would be any better at legislating than those we have in place now, and that's because I think politicians don't really pay attention to voters.

Daniel Borenstein wrote yesterday that the current debt is $30,500 per California household. And even if each household agreed to pay that amount, nothing prevents the debt from running back up. Web Link I don't agree with everything Borenstein states (like "Traditional pension plans provide security because retirees receive predictable income for the rest of their lives. Every worker deserves one.), but he has been a good source for presenting the problems. Anyway, I actually think teachers are no different than other taxpayers and reasonable solutions can be found if we work together . . . I just don't see that discussion occurring with union leadership in the room. I'm willing to be wrong though.

So, Daniel, my question to you would be, what solutions do you suggest to overburdened taxpayers?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Daniel Bradford,

Arguments don't stand on whether the writer believes enough in them or not. Arguments stand on whether the writer has presented strong and honest evidence supporting them. It is very clear that your _opinion_ is a repeat of FUD propaganda meant to make teachers scared of all alternatives, even credible ones (see "Getting Down to Facts"). It's no better than the GOP line about the rich being job creators so somehow we can't tax them. Teachers didn't cause the financial crisis and I know of no serious person who actually believes that (although you seem to believe it). I wonder what is being reaped by those who sow such propaganda.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2012 at 9:19 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Kathleen,

The Metlife survey lists layoffs as one of the causes of low morale. I can imagine that the seniority-based layoffs rather than merit-based layoffs can't help much either. Actually, most of the causes for low morale listed in the Metlife survey apply to any job, not just teaching.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2012 at 9:24 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Daniel Bradford also wrote: "Ok, I get it: the Wall Street bankers are too big and too strong to hit, and besides, they hate unions, too, so there must be some good in them...so attack the teachers"

I need to add, this is some propaganda too. Who the heck says that Wall St. is too big and too strong to hit? I certainly don't believe this and don't know who does. Recognizable writers on this forum have written against Wall St.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2012 at 10:15 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"most of the causes for low morale listed in the Metlife survey apply to any job"

Thus: Web Link


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 18, 2012 at 10:56 am

Sandy is a registered user.

I promised an update about why bringing collaboration period to Wednesday mornings in the high schools, as was done in the most recent agreement between APT and PUSD, does not cost the district money to implement.

First, it's important to understand that the costs of the agreement are not calculated based on a comparison between what is being spent in the current year and what will be spent next year. Instead, the district must calculate the difference between what the district would be required to spend if all of the current clauses in the APT-PUSD contract were in effect next year, and what the district is required to spend if the agreement to amend the contract for next year is accepted. (Sorry, I know that's a hellish sentence! Unfortunately, when we combine accounting standards and state education code, awkward sentences are a given.)

Second, it's also important to know that collaboration will probably not be lined up with the way the 7-period day used to work. It was the elimination of many class sections associated with the 7-period day that saved dollars when collaboration was suspended, and relatively few of those class sections have been reinstituted. Details about the actual bell schedule for next fall are not yet available, but the costs of adding sections will be unrelated to how courses are actually scheduled.

The bottom line is that the teachers have agreed to lengthen their work week to ensure - both - that students receive the state required minutes of instruction each year -and - that teachers and staff have one designated time when they can gather to conduct planning and other activities during the school week. All is has been accomplished without any additional financial cost to the district.

It is clear to me that this adjustment will benefit students in the classroom.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Preserving Disorder
By Tom Cushing | 73 comments | 2,141 views

Jim Kohnen Post Office Signed into Law
By Roz Rogoff | 5 comments | 767 views

CPRA: Balancing privacy, public's right to know
By Gina Channell-Allen | 3 comments | 412 views