District outlines 'possible reductions' to balance budget
Original post made
on Jan 7, 2010
In a document released Thursday afternoon, the Pleasanton Unified School District outlined the budget challenges they face in the current school year and beyond.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Thursday, January 7, 2010, 4:55 PM
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm
Support from parents and students is not always what it appears to be. As it is nearly impossible to move a child once you realize you have a poor teacher, support often comes as a means of survival for your child.
I've been mulling over the comments here and on past threads about teaching. It's a contract for 180 days (and possibly staff development time). It's easy to agree people have unscheduled sicknesses and personal issues like a death in the family that require time away. There are other generous times away--Thanksgiving, winter break, spring break, and summer for the pursuit personal interests or education.
We can also agree there are many teachers who come early, stay late, respond to emails quickly, volunteer for other activities with students, do lesson planning and grade papers at home because prep time was spent with parents or students, and review their year and new approaches for the coming year during the summer months. I know a teacher who attends dances and sporting events even when not required because of the connection to the students. (Bus duty, lunch duty, any required time, and paid summer school are not above and beyond the call).
After that, there is a genuine problem with all the conferences and seminars that occur on school days that take a teacher out of the classroom. There's a problem asking students to be in their seats so we don't lose ADA and to then have them face substitutes for days at a time or irregularly, but frequently, for reasons that are in the teacher's control.
Maybe I'm callous, but there is validity to pointing out this is a chosen profession; having children is also a personal choice, and continuing to work knowing you shouldn't abandon your post to see your child perform is part and parcel of those choices. Many mothers and fathers see few if any of their children's events because of the very same choices they made.
Teaching is often a calling--working on the side of the angels is a phrase I hear often. But many teachers and administrators have said to me, where else can you have a decent income, this kind of time off, and get to retire handsomely at a fairly young age. And these are excellent, dedicated people saying it.
I'd even suggest the teachers you know who are teaching beyond a retirement opportunity and who are still phenomenal are the ones who had the calling. Okay, maybe they can't retire because of other circumstances, but they don't abandon their zeal.
We've all been subject to the teachers who stayed beyond their expiration date; the ones who chose poorly, but managed tenure and now do the minimum necessary; and everything in between. And this is why tenure is so galling; the options for removing them are few, painful, often unsuccessful, and expensive.
It's been claimed the review of teachers is comprehensive, but it is common knowledge not every principal does it well, and at some level, who can blame them? Look at the contract; consider this isn't just mono y mono if there's an unsat involved; and remember that even peer review was fought tooth and nail because no teacher really wanted to judge another teacher's performance.
On a grander scale, K-12 education needs to change, and I like Arne Duncan's campaign to force it, and frankly take the bullets from NEA, et al. The change is long overdue. That's everything from tenure, to merit pay, to how the education model needs to greet the future let alone try to outpace its requirements.
Back to Pleasanton. Teachers became members of this community when they elected to teach our children (regardless of where they may live). This community has been supportive through property taxes, facility bonds, donations, and volunteering for as long as I can speak to ('85). It is PUSD's turn to lead. The union needs to make a bold move on concessions (S&C freeze for two years is a good start OR some equivalent). Administrators can give back the car allowanceswrite the check as a donation and tell us about it.
For the future: (1) anyone on the negotiations teamno clauses that allow you to benefit from what you negotiate. Raises for negotiators should be on performance and meeting specific goals only. (2) Change how raises are negotiated with the unions. Any COLA from the state needs to first insure there is no deficit spending. The COLA also must be used to build reserves as a second priority. Any raises considered with left over COLA dollars should be divided 50/50 between an off the schedule "bonus" and what goes "on the schedule." (3) As leadership contracts come up (all principals, assistant principals will be March 15 for 2010-11); remove all perks and make them salary only. (4) Any multi-year contract should be frozen and ridden out to the end so they too can be salary only (no year to year rollovers--every year is a new three year contract). Note: 3 and 4 are likely to mean some increase in those salaries to accommodate loss of the perks . . . it will take serious thought on what that should be. (5) Negotiate benefits out from retirement to 65 (an unfunded or under-funded commitment that will be an ugly surprise in the not too distant future). It will likely be grandfathered and take a long time to undo. (6) Health benefit costs something is broken at PUSD; I can't say more than a fix is needed. (7) Kernan, Ott, and even Grantstep down for this election.
These are opportunities available to us now. The potential good faith it could buy is enormous.