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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Tough negotiations for teachers and management in Pleasanton

Uploaded: Nov 2, 2021
Public school districts are trying to walk a fine line this school year. Thanks to the state funding formula locked in by Proposition 98, districts are awash with what amounts to one-time money from state and federal sources.
Looking out a year, when the state budget likely will drop without the huge influx of federal funds to say nothing about the slowing economy, the average of more of more than $21,000 per student funding likely is to fall.
That leaves districts without collective bargaining agreements with their teachers and classified employees unions in a guessing game. Pleasanton teachers are so frustrated with negotiations that they overwhelmingly approved a strike vote. Negotiations were declared at impasse by the teachers’ union in the summer and the sides now are in “fact finding” with a neutral third party.
The district on Aug. 17 offered a 5% package over two years that was rejected by the union. Complicating negotiations, as Jeff Keller pointed out in his opinion piece last week in the Weekly is the deal that trustees gave to Superintendent David Haglund and the management team of 3.5% raises a year, plus they receive district-paid health and other benefits.
I recommend checking out Keller’s opinion opinion. He grew up locally and has taught in Pleasanton at Valley View in the dual immersion English/Spanish program as well as serving as principal at Marilyn Avenue in Livermore where we met as participants in Project Roadrunner to turn around the school. He left that position for a district-level job overseeing instruction in Stockton and then returned to a principalship in Santa Clara.
Keller argues that trustees have prioritized senior district staff ahead of the teachers. It’s hard to disagree.
A big challenge for Pleasanton is that teachers are responsible for paying for their own health insurance based upon a 30-year-old deal made back when health insurance was affordable and the Pleasanton and Dublin districts boundaries to match city limits. Since that time, health benefits costs have soared. Pleasanton’s salaries start at $69,352 and top at $113,726 after 20 years and with 75 graduate units.
Dublin, which provides employees with health and dental insurance, tops at $118,220 after 24 years, while Livermore and San Ramon top at $105,494 and 103,180, respectively after 24 and 25 years. They also provide health insurance. Dublin and Livermore have settled with their teachers for 3% raises in the current school year.
Haglund, in public talks, has acknowledged that the district needs to figure out a way to work benefits into the contract. The old arrangement gave teachers a 20% raise that helped both during their career and in retirement, but it’s going to effect recruiting. That’s a big number, particularly when district enrollment has dropped by 800 students over the last five years. That means less revenue once state funding returns to its pre-pandemic formula.
It’s never easy to serve as a school trustee, but this will be a particularly challenging time for those elected officials and district management over the next couple of years.

Democracy.
What is it worth to you?

Comments

 +   2 people like this
Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 2, 2021 at 9:52 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

It's real cut and dry. Get rid of the teachers' union. Until then, good luck.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Kevin, a resident of Castlewood,
on Nov 2, 2021 at 11:01 am

Kevin is a registered user.

Based on the salary data that Tim posted comparing Dublin, Pleasanton and San Ramon, it looks like Pleasanton teachers are being treated unfairly. Benefit costs are very high. They can easily be 30% of a company salary budget. What is Pleasanton school district doing with the 30% that they have not been spending on teacher benefits? Why should management receive benefits and not the teachers? WE NEED UNIONS TO STAND UP TO THIS BS. I cannot believe that some people think this will all be fixed if we get rid of unions. NO, for jobs like teaching, UNIONS ARE MUST! I agree with no unions for MBAs especially those from Ivy League schools.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Gina Channell, Publisher, a resident of Downtown,
on Nov 2, 2021 at 11:25 am

Gina Channell, Publisher is a registered user.

@Kevin - Several years ago (30?), the union members voted to have an additional $10K in salary and agreed they would pay for their own benefits. That amount, as far as I know, has not been increased although we all know how much health benefits have increased. But the point is that is what the union asked for, not the district.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 2, 2021 at 12:41 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Teachers are paid more in a union, but other than that, unions are nothing but trouble. If you go into a profession that has a union, you have to deal with the pros and cons. Higher pay is a pro, and this BS is the cons. Pleasanton teachers have their options. Like teaching in another district. No one ever said life was "fair." Or enter a profession where you're employed "at-will" like the rest of us.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Concerned Teacher , a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 2, 2021 at 3:44 pm

Concerned Teacher is a registered user.

This article brings up such a great point regarding health care in this district. I am a single person and to get health care through PUSD would cost me almost $1,000 a month. How can any person afford this AND live in the Bay Area on a teacher salary? It's sad that the district thinks anything about that is OK. What adds even more insult to injury is when upper management gets their healthcare paid for them AND their dependents. These people already make large six-figure salaries, why do they need their healthcare covered? There seems to be a mass exodus of PUSD teachers leaving to go to districts where they are more valued and appreciated.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Truth, a resident of Downtown,
on Nov 2, 2021 at 10:35 pm

Truth is a registered user.

When considering total compensation, not just salary, Pleasanton teachers are the third LOWEST compensated out of 18 districts in Alameda County. They trail the nearby Contra Costa districts, such as San Ramon Valley USD, by an even wider margin. The issue isn't just disrespect or fairness. How does Pleasanton expect to attract and retain quality teachers as a teacher shortage is imminent? In 20 years, PUSD has gone from being THE crown jewel district in the east bay, to being an afterthought. This is especially short-sighted on the part of district leadership and local board members.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 3, 2021 at 8:01 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

Teaching is a calling. If you're in it for the money, you're in the wrong profession. Granted, people should be compensated fairly. Sadly, we had higher quality teachers when they made less money. The truth hurts. Teachers back in the day -- their heart was in the right place. Their main focus was educating our children. Sadly, those days are gone. If your main focus is MONEY AND BENEFITS, please enter a more lucrative profession. Thank you.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Concerned about Schools, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School,
on Nov 3, 2021 at 10:00 am

Concerned about Schools is a registered user.

Jennifer, I find your position sad and a bit offensive. We all enjoy the benefits of our strong schools, like higher property values and well educated citizens. To say that teaching is a “calling" is true but doesn't mean it's ok to pay teachers less than other professionals. And I'm not sure what you're basing your statement about teachers being better “back in the day." I am a product of pleasanton schools from the 1980s and I can say that statement isn't true based on my experience. My education doesn't come close to the quality that my own children got in pleasanton schools. Most of all, I'm disappointed in the administration for rewarding themselves for sitting at the district office while the people who make our schools great aren't compensated competitively. We will all suffer if our school quality declines.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Frustrated Voter, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 3, 2021 at 10:17 am

Frustrated Voter is a registered user.

Unions came to be to protect the working conditions of workers. Period. Every time you and yours enjoy an 8-hour workday, a weekend, overtime pay, safe working conditions, thank a union. Everyday your children don't have to live and work in a factory, thank a union. Just think what would happen if your local police, firefighters, pilots, and nurses weren't protected by their unions. (removed pending verification. Commenter, where did you get this information?) And the raise is not 5%. Don't believe numbers publicized by management. Unions protect the teachers, as they do in every other public school, and by extension your children.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Jeff, a resident of Birdland,
on Nov 3, 2021 at 3:51 pm

Jeff is a registered user.

Jennifer, do teachers not deserve to make enough money to support themselves and their families? Most people who go into teaching do so because they want to make a difference. They're in it for the right reasons. If we want people to focus on the work then make sure money is not an issue. You make money a non-issue by paying people enough to make ends meet. Lastly, as an administrator in education, there are times when I too have been frustrated with unions. However, what is happening in Pleasanton is a perfect example of why we need to have unions!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 3, 2021 at 5:27 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Jeff, teaching isn't a high paying profession. Helping professions usually aren't. It's something you need to come to terms with before you enter any profession. Teachers are making more money than they've ever made, and if you're not comfortable with the "earning potential" you don't enter the profession. And to answer the question of quality of teachers, why are 60 percent of teachers leaving the profession within five years? That's an awfully high turnover rate for a degreed profession. And why are there so many teachers that can't pass a test(s) for teaching credentials? To the point where they have to lower the standards. You don't see that in other professions. Our kids are grown, but I'm very disappointed in the quality of teachers these days. What the heck is going on?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by KG, a resident of California Reflections,
on Nov 3, 2021 at 7:31 pm

KG is a registered user.

Gina, Question and comments: Was the extra $10k a one-time raise for the teachers who were working back 30 years ago or are teachers given an extra $10k per year for benefits (e.g., I hire a teacher today, her salary is $90k and she get extra $10k for benefits bringing up to $100k). If it was a one-time raise for teachers 30 years ago, then it seems unfair to the teachers who are working today.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by pleasantonweekly.com, a PleasantonWeekly.com blogger,
on Nov 3, 2021 at 8:00 pm

pleasantonweekly.com is a registered user.

From what I understand, the salary bump in lieu of health benefits was to continue throughout the years and the amount of $10k has never changed. I have heard it was done to increase salaries of teachers who would soon retire because their pension is based on last year‘s salary.
Yes, healthcare has definitely increased over the past 30 years. And COLA and step and column salary increases are not going to keep up.
But the union has not requested, or even alluded to, the district changing this.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by D, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 4, 2021 at 7:00 am

D is a registered user.

There is an inherent conflict of interest in allowing public employees to unionize. This explains why so many cities are approaching a crisis and financial bankruptcy due to runaway pensions and other benefits.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Kathleen+Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on Nov 4, 2021 at 7:59 am

Kathleen+Ruegsegger is a registered user.

To clarify, benefits were rolled onto the salary schedule in 1988 to make a very senior staff get better retirement benefits. As the years have progressed, the raises given have increased the value of the original $10K to be enough to cover benefits"however, the increases have done very little to keep the salary portion competitive. The teachers deserve, at a minimum, what was given to cabinet. Shame on our school board.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Magnus Back, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 4, 2021 at 8:13 am

Magnus Back is a registered user.

Jennifer not wanting to pay teachers but also wanting quality teachers kind of says it all. Teachers are building the future. We should make sure to have great teachers and the best way to do that is to pay them fairly (including benefits). They spend time and money to educate themselves to become qualified teachers. It is most definitely a job, a very important job.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 4, 2021 at 9:24 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

I do want quality teachers, and teaching is a very important job. They're educating our children. But I believe in paying people what they're worth. A 60 percent turnover rate in five years in a degreed profession is absurd. While the rest of us stick it out in our profession, teachers cut and run? And while the rest of licensed professionals in California easily pass state exams, teachers can't pass basic tests? If and when teachers stick it out for our children and can pass the basic tests for credentials (I've been told by teacher's the tests aren't that hard) I will regain my respect for teachers. Until then, I stand by my opinion. Whether teachers need to try harder in college, study harder for their credential exams, or quit expecting administration to hold their hand -- whatever the case may be. Teachers need to step up to the plate. I want the BEST for our children. They deserve it.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Concerned Teacher , a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 4, 2021 at 9:51 am

Concerned Teacher is a registered user.

Jennifer, Have you ever taken the CSET or CBEST tests personally? If not your arguments are invalid. The CBEST isn't too bad, but any teacher will tell you the CSET tests are challenging. When you say "licensed professionals in California easily pass state exams", you are undermining other state exams such as the MFT licensing exam, which you make sound like a walk in the park. Also, these "basic tests" are required for admission to most teacher credential programs, and are a definitely a requirement to get hired as a teacher. The teachers you are referring to who "can't pass basic tests" are not properly credentialed. It sounds like you have a personal issue with a teacher and are associating all in the profession with your own bad experience.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Concerned Teacher , a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 4, 2021 at 9:51 am

Concerned Teacher is a registered user.

Jennifer, Have you ever taken the CSET or CBEST tests personally? If not your arguments are invalid. The CBEST isn't too bad, but any teacher will tell you the CSET tests are challenging. When you say "licensed professionals in California easily pass state exams", you are undermining other state exams such as the MFT licensing exam, which you make sound like a walk in the park. Also, these "basic tests" are required for admission to most teacher credential programs, and are a definitely a requirement to get hired as a teacher. The teachers you are referring to who "can't pass basic tests" are not properly credentialed. It sounds like you have a personal issue with a teacher and are associating all in the profession with your own bad experience.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen+Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on Nov 4, 2021 at 12:49 pm

Kathleen+Ruegsegger is a registered user.

A 60% turnover rate in five years is why we should negotiate for tenured status on the first day of a teacher's fifth year, not the first day of the third. As I've pointed out before, a teacher told me anyone can hang on for two years. That said, teachers still deserve a real raise.


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