Pleasanton school board approves new principals, teachers, other contracts

With start of year ahead, board hears presentation on summer school successes, existing disparities

Two new elementary school principals are in place for the start of the school year next week after the Pleasanton school board approved all pending principal contracts Tuesday night.

The board approved Amador Valley High vice principal Sebastian Bull as principal of Donlon Elementary and Ann Jayne as Vintage Hills Elementary's new principal. Jayne previously worked as a vice principal in the Manteca Unified School District.

The board also formally approved contracts with new administrators who were previously appointed and had already started work this summer, including principals Elias Muniz Rodriguez (Hearst) and Shay Galletti (Fairlands), interim principal Jill Butler (Harvest Park), vice principal Lisa Hague (Hart), and interim vice principals Michael O'Brien and Suzanne Smith (half-time) at Pleasanton Middle School.

Trustees also unanimously approved a contract for the district's new interim assistant superintendent of human resources Dianne Howell, who is replacing Bill Faraghan after he retired in June.

"Welcome to everyone who is new in our district and who is just in a new role in our district," board president Valerie Arkin said.

Most of Tuesday's meeting included housekeeping items. With school starting on Tuesday, many of this year's contracts had to be approved for basic services -- cafeteria food, custodial supplies, student teaching agreement and contracts for teachers who were recently hired at the district.

School district staff gave an overview of this year's summer school program, which 1,048 students from first to 12th grade attended. Staff reported to the board the strategies that helped the program improve this year, such as having a later start time of 8:30 a.m., requiring an attendance policy for students enrolled in the Virtual Academy program that serves high school seniors who haven't completed graduation requirements and rearranging schedules so students in Algebra I could have 20 or fewer students in those classes.

Trustee Chris Grant commended summer school staff, saying the program is a "safety net."

He pointed out Hispanic students make up 30% of summer school attendees, as compared to 10% of the fall-spring school population, and African American students make up 5% of the summer school population but make up 2% of the fall-spring school population, according to 2014-15 data.

"It looks to me that we still have a ways to go," he said, encouraging administrators and teachers to work on solutions to those disparities.

The board approved an operating budget for the 2015-16 year of $138.1 million and expenditures of $130.6 million. The ending reserve is projected to be $6.25 million.

The board also approved an agreement with the teacher's union (APT), including a 3.8% increase to salary schedules -- meaning Pleasanton teachers will get raises this year. The agreement means $320,400 more will be spent on teacher salaries across the district than has previously budgeted.

The board approved the contract between the district and Hansen, who began as interim superintendent in June after former superintendent Parvin Ahmadi resigned. The vote was 4-1 with Trustee Joan Laursen in dissent, who said she wanted to be consistent with her June vote.

"I voted 'no' on the appointment of the Interim Superintendent because I do not agree with the process this Board used to select the candidate, which was neither transparent nor comprehensive. It was a difficult vote for me because Jim Hansen is a good friend, and a wonderful man," Laursen said at the June 22 special meeting where Hansen was appointed. "However, I cannot vote to expend public dollars on a candidate for Interim Superintendent who does not possess the qualifications for this job."

The district will be searching for a permanent superintendent. Hansen's interim contract will end June 30, 2016.

Several parents, teachers and district staff spoke Tuesday and praised Hansen's legacy during his time as an educator.

Other items on the agenda included:

* Allowing the city to hook Hart Middle School's field up with a planned recycled water system.

* Awarding Sysco a beverage contract for flavored waters, sports drinks, water and fruit juice that meet nutritional guidelines for school lunches.

* A discussion on this year's California state budget and its effects to district funding.

*Approving a student teaching agreement where college students can intern for one or two years. The board approved agreements with California State University East Bay and Saint Mary's College so their students can work as interns.

*Approval of bids for suppliers of custodial services, such as mops, brooms and gloves.

Tuesday night's meeting was the first since the board returned from a regularly scheduled break from meetings during the summer. The next public school board meeting will be Sept. 8.

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42 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:29 am

First, thank you to Jim Hansen for stepping out of retirement and back into PUSD -your commitment to the kids and the community is greatly appreciated, respected, and is yet another example of the positive person you are.

Second, Ms. Laursen -why did you vote 'No'? I'm really trying to understand the statement you are making and why you, through your vote, felt it necessary to insult someone who is sacrificing for the sake of the community. Please feel free to provide some background on this forum regarding your though process because on the surface it comes across as petty and a continuation of what we've seen over the last few years.

27 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:45 am

Harvest Park was never the same after Jim Hansen left. Am thrilled he is back at PUSD as the interim superintendent. Hopefully he can bring some semblance of order back to the school site locations so that the District can focus on students, not the whims, battles, grievances and scorched earth power plays of the teacher union.

I also happen to agree with Joe from Ruby Hill. A 'no' vote from Laursen seems to me petty and vindictive and designed to embarrass Jim Hansen, particularly since he is already in the role. The Laursen 'no' vote seems more of the same, i.e., a continuation of public embarrassment of Principals that has been the downfall of the PUSD in the last two years.

2 people like this
Posted by P-Town HAPPY
a resident of Old Towne
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:05 am

This is all great news...

When can the gas-bag Prince... at Valley View be replaced ?

22 people like this
Posted by Helen
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:18 am

Maybe the only person that "does not possess the qualifications for this job." is Laursen. Let's remember her statement if she decides to run again for ANYTHING.

8 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:56 am

I hear the Varnish decision has been made and he lost outright.

2 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:02 am

Where did you hear that George?

7 people like this
Posted by Gina Channell-Allen
president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:13 am

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

No decision has been released on PUSD v Vranesh. The special school board meeting set for tonight may or may not be cancelled.

We will keep you updated.

4 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:15 am

the decision was issued Call OAH if you want. He lost.

11 people like this
Posted by Gina Channell-Allen
president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:22 am

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

George, I've been in touch with OAH, both attorneys, the district staff and board members. If you have documents, I would appreciate your sharing them with us.

8 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:31 am

I just called the OAH, they said a decisions was made yesterday and released to the lawyers involved. The decision wont be made public for 30 plus 5 days. So it would seem George must be getting the info from the district's lawyers IF (and that's a big if) George is telling the truth. If George is telling the truth it's very interesting that the district's lawyers is releasing info through the blogs when Parvin's parting words were how much she hated the blogs??

10 people like this
Posted by Gina Channell-Allen
president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Aug 19, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

According to the OAH, a judge issued a decision in PUSD v Vranesh yesterday but the "parties involved have not been notified" as of noon today. This was confirmed by one of the attorneys.

We might have the documents tomorrow.

We will keep you updated as we get information.

5 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Aug 19, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Thanks Gina I appreciate the Weekly's diligence in this matter.

Perhaps the woman on the phone misspoke when she told me the lawyers had already been notified or maybe I misheard hadn't for have. I sure hope George didn't get insider info before lawyers were notified, that would be a huge breach of trust.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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