News

Harvest Park principal announces resignation

Robin Munsell stepping down, district to begin searching for replacement hire

Robin Munsell, principal of Harvest Park Middle School, announced last week that she would be resigning from her post at the end of the school year.

In an email to school families, the principal of just under two years touted her time at the school, looked forward to upcoming changes at Harvest Park and said she would work with the Pleasanton Unified School District to ensure a smooth transition.

"This was not an easy decision to make," Munsell wrote. "I have enjoyed my time here at Harvest Park and continue to be impressed by the dedication of the staff and the support of the parents and families. Harvest Park is an amazing community, and it has been a privilege to be part of such an incredible school."

Munsell's email did not elaborate on why she was leaving Harvest Park. She did not respond to the Weekly's requests for comment regarding her reasons for resigning.

Her email to families continued: "There are many exciting opportunities at HP that will have a positive impact on learning, including our student device roll out and our FLEX period. I will continue to plan and prepare for next school year, so that my successor and the school is prepared for the exciting things coming."

District spokesman Patrick Gannon said the district had begun the search process for a new Harvest Park principal, specifically by "engagement with the Harvest Park community," he said.

Results and input gathered from the engagement process would be used to find a new principal, he said.

Munsell was named principal in fall 2016 after the recently appointed principal Ethan Cheever abruptly resigned three months into his tenure.

She was the sixth principal in a little over a year for Harvest Park, after former principal of five years Ken Rocha was promoted to director of education for the district's elementary and middle schools, leading to a series of interim principals, before the district landed on Cheever -- Munsell had been the runner-up candidate for the job during Cheever's recruitment.

Prior to Harvest Park, Munsell spent four years as assistant principal at San Ramon's Gale Ranch Middle School.

Comments

38 people like this
Posted by 7 principals at HPMS or have I lost count?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 13, 2018 at 5:33 pm

Harvest Park has been a troubled school for years ever since Jim Hansen left.

" “I always commit 120% to the school and community I'm working in,” Munsell said. “I'm not going anywhere – I'm here to stay.”

Munsell is Harvest Park's sixth principal in a little over a year."

That is what she said when she was hired 18 months ago according to this Web Link

Perhaps what really needs to happen is that the entire D.O. administration needs to be terminated starting with the Superintendent. There needs to be a new Board as well because I do not think they are qualified to chose candidates for leadership positions at PUSD.


22 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Birdland
on May 13, 2018 at 11:03 pm

There is something going on and very unusual for a middle school principal position, hope the truth comes out sooner than later.


13 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Birdland
on May 14, 2018 at 7:12 am

I see there emails all the time in corporations. something fishy here. no details at all leads me to believe there is a lot more to this story. Maybe she got a better offer and needs to wait a certain period of time before publicly accepting due to her contract with PUSD. Maybe is disciplinary. we have a right to know after she and the PUSD promised she was a long term solutuion.

lets face it, there is an issue here. 6 principals in 2 years?????? the one prior lasted 2 months, this one lasted a little over a year. whats wrong????


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown

on May 14, 2018 at 10:23 am

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Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown

on May 14, 2018 at 10:24 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


34 people like this
Posted by Kelly
a resident of Birdland
on May 14, 2018 at 10:57 am

Sadly because administration is left powerless and forced to pander to special interests and bullying parents, the principal and school employees are constantly put in awkward positions. They are forced to accept policy that may not be in line with their morals or personal beliefs and are even not in the best interest of the student body. That’s going on all over CA. Because the loudest voices are all that are heard, and good people with genuine care for the public on a whole are being silenced, the schools are an ineffective hot bed of nonsense. I wouldn’t work in that environment. Would you?


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of California Reflections

on May 14, 2018 at 10:59 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


14 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2018 at 11:01 am

Kelly, while in general I agree with you, 6 principals in 2 years points to a much larger problem. we just don't know what that is because the district is about as transparent as brick wall.

other schools and districts don't churn thru principals at the rate of harvest park. also there are a few well respected teachers leaving there as well after the year end so something is up that we are not privy to.


7 people like this
Posted by SocialMediaMom
a resident of Birdland
on May 14, 2018 at 11:04 am

Smacks of PUSD's tradition of letting people step down instead of having to fire them. I agree that we need a new Board ASAP...and new hiring staff (ones that can actually VET candidates properly and thoroughly).


16 people like this
Posted by PUSDSub
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 14, 2018 at 11:25 am

PUSDSub is a registered user.

I substitute a lot in middle schools, and what I see is that even though the staff and students are top of the class at Harvest Park, HP's facilities are old and tired compared to Hart and PMS. It leads me to wonder if the school district is giving HP the necessary support, financially or otherwise. It must not be easy to be the principal of this school, and while I don't have much interaction with Ms. Munsell, I must say that Harvest Park is still my absolute favorite middle school to sub in, because the teachers always leave great sub plans, and the students are always respectful and ready to learn. I hope they get a good principal that can advocate for them and continue to thrive, because this school deserves much better recognition and support from PUSD and the community.


8 people like this
Posted by Emily
a resident of Birdland
on May 14, 2018 at 11:40 am

Perhaps the placement of this principal was simply not a good fit for the culture of Harvest Park Middle School? This principal was quickly hired to replace the last principal that abruptly quit. At least she gave her notice and finished out the school year. This will give PUSD enough time to properly vet and hire the best candidate for the job. HP is an amazing school and the teachers and students deserve the best.


8 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2018 at 11:55 am

I went to a school built in the 1950s. To blame so called bullying parents and antiquated facilities on 8 principals since Jim Hansen left? Munsell has spent the last few months trying to eliminate a math pathway in order to slow track all students in math regardless of ability. Note that this was more than likely pushed by Odie Douglas. However intentionally starting a war with parents is never wise.


16 people like this
Posted by HPMS Parent
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 14, 2018 at 1:20 pm

I spoke directly with Robin at the recent Coffee with the Principal and thanked her for her time at HPMS, though short in tenure. She is not going to any other school or into administration. That I can tell you. I do not know why she has decided to withhold publicly what she is intending to do, but I can say she has no job commitments at this point.

My daughter is going into 8th grade at HPMS and I too find it distressing that she will have yet a 3rd principal at HPMS. It does not make me happy. However, I am not going to bash anyone concerning this. I just ask that the School Board look for someone who lives locally, has the kids best interests in mind and wants to be at the school for the long term for the kids who will be there after my daughter leaves. It has been a tumultuous 2 years there with the principal changes and those students coming from Walnut Grove even more so. There needs to be a focus on consistency. Promoting from within also needs to be looked at and should be considered to help stem the churn.

Consistency and presence for the kids, parents and teachers needs to be top of mind over the focus on 21st century initiatives which I felt has been a top priority in choosing the next principal at HPMS the last few years. Let that be the Superintendent's focus for all of PUSD. But I am just one parent and one opinion....


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Birdland
on May 14, 2018 at 1:49 pm

" I do not know why she has decided to withhold publicly what she is intending to do, but I can say she has no job commitments at this point."

I call BS. Its typical for contracts to have non compete clauses. IMHO, she cant publicly announce anything for fears of violating her PUSD contract. So wse will take a year or 6 months off or whatever the contract states and magically some job will open and she will slide right into it. This is very common in tech and other contracted jobs. If this is true, its her choice, i will say she was less than honest when she accepted the job saying she was 120% in.


1 person likes this
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2018 at 4:43 pm

Resident - you may be right, but I have never heard of a non-compete clause in a school principal contract.

So, I think she will probably have another position for the upcoming school year but there could be circumstances at the new position to prevent from announcing at this point.

Of course we may never know for sure


21 people like this
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2018 at 4:48 pm

I'm sure Pleasanton isn't a great place to be a Principal. The district is much more worried about parents suing and trying to publicly appease the parents then making the hard and best decisions for the long term benefit of the students and staff.

Of course most of the district staff has turned over in the past few years also.


14 people like this
Posted by Math Geek
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2018 at 7:04 pm

Maybe it's failure to understand how percentages work? Has no one mentioned that you cannot commit 120%?

Regardless, best of luck in your future endeavors, Principal Munsell.


4 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on May 14, 2018 at 7:38 pm

Between being powerless againt the will of the union teachers, and the district admin making all non-teacher decisions, I would wonder why I was coming to work each day.


1 person likes this
Posted by Liz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2018 at 7:52 pm

Good point Bill. I wonder how many union grievances APT is filing a week these days?

Particularly when 32% of Foothill students can't score Proficient in Math and instead those 32% of students score in Basic and Below Basic and Far Below Basic. And Amador - 22% of the students in Math score in Basic and Below Basic and Far Below Basic.

Nearly 1/3 of Foothill isn't proficient in Math. Nearly 1/4 of Amador isn't proficient in Math. These scores are from the US News website.

And let's see. Supt Haglund and Odie Douglas want to eliminate Math classes and the Math Pathway for accelerated students and replace instruction time with do-nothing Study Halls. Because eliminating math classes will make the pathetic math scores better, right? Sure.

And Math Geek, if they get their way, maybe they can have the kids is Study Halls 120% of the time....


9 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Birdland
on May 14, 2018 at 8:01 pm

Well it sure does seem like there was some kind of battle over math curriculum. A bit of a cultural upheaval perhaps. Some bias there? And in prosperous neighborhood like this, it seems pretty unacceptable that the school seems so worn and dated. Perhaps parents have too much of sense of entitlement and are focused on the wrong things. More constructive, collaborative involvement and investment from parents is needed.


7 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on May 14, 2018 at 11:22 pm

My comment was inappropriate. Principals have a lot to do. It's often a thankless job.

I would like to see principals have authority to decide personnel decisions at their schools. It appears to me principals have little authority to determine the success of their own schools without the ability to decide who works there.

Student discipline. Contract negotiations with vendors. Parent complaints. ALL that gets kicked up to district. And if the principal kicks too much up, the district gets irritated and kicks out the principal.

I know it can't work that way here. It probably violates every collectively bargained agreement the district signed. But I'd like to see it. Give the principals more tools to determine their own fate.


12 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on May 15, 2018 at 10:38 pm

These message boards in local communities are so toxic. Akin to snipers in a war zone. My take in order of importance...she left because.

She doesn't live here: one benefit to working at a school is that it could/should be in your neighborhood.

Backbone: is she allowed to take the teachers side or side against a teacher? Either way such a tough spot.

Bad Parents: Enough said, not matter what, 99.9 percent of the time our kids are going to more or less achieve as we did. We all doent have high achievers (unless money talks). Think about it only 49 percent of us can be above average. So a class of 30!!! Sorry folks.

She's too young: I guarantee the parents challenge her because of her age.

Self Reflection: parents that are whining about 6 principals in 2 years, thinks about it. Are you helping her cause. The school community.

The moment: she needs or needed a moment where she stood up to the parent bullies and was backed up.


1 person likes this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 15, 2018 at 10:48 pm

6 principals in 2 years? Unacceptable.
What is different about these parents than those at other Pleasanton schools? I think there is a high expectation in Pleasanton in general (a good thing) but this is definitely more of an outlier than the rest of the schools - what's different about these parents?


6 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Who wants to work for a school district with so much awful internal management and skewed priorities that don't reflect the community? As well as one that hasn't been able to lift a shovelful of dirt to construct a new school in about 20 years or so?

I wonder who else is leaving that hasn't been announced yet?

The VP of Foothill High is leaving as well, but this was announced in mid-April at the District he is going to....see
Web Link

Has anyone seen any announcement from PUSD that this Vice Principal is leaving? I haven't.

Seems like personnel are leaving PUSD with no official announcements as well as no mention on the official agenda documents for "Personnel Actions."

It must be extremely irritating for someone committed to kids like Mr. Baker is to see the District try to eliminate a math pathway particularly when Foothill High students are struggling in Math. 31 percent are not proficient in Math.

In Mr. Baker's new District, Math is valued much more highly than in Pleasanton. Given that one of their students just got admitted to MIT, it seems that there are extensive Engineering and Math related pathways, pathways that PUSD lacks.

From the NUSD write-up concerning the student admitted to MIT - "At Natomas High, Daniel has a cumulative grade point average of 4.4 while participating in the school's prestigious Advance Placement (AP) Capstone Program and its Engineering Pathway. By graduation next month, Daniel will have completed 11 college-level AP classes, including Physics, Biology, Human Geography, U.S. History, two English courses, and two Calculus courses. His extracurricular activities at Natomas High have included participation in the Math Olympiad, Science Bowl and MESA Club - Mathematics Engineering, Science Achievement. He also served as a student tutor last year. "

But remember Pleasanton Unified, the one that wants to eliminate the accelerated Math Pathway? It seems that with this mentality, it seems they of course don't want any of its students to have a chance to get admitted to MIT.


2 people like this
Posted by Race to the bottom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Regarding the link above, sadly the abysmal Board and management of the Pleasanton Unified School District have not even implemented the AP Capstone program at Amador Valley or Foothill High Web Link

You would have to go to Dublin, San Ramon or Danville schools in order to be part of the AP Capstone program.

Given PUSD's track record, they are probably on a path and having internal meetings about eliminating even more accelerated classes as we speak. They probably don't know what the AP Capstone program is either.

Who would want to be a principal or vice principal in PUSD with that type of backward thinking mentality?


9 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 16, 2018 at 4:20 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Let’s be careful who we compare ourselves to:
Pleasanton. Web Link
Natomas. Web Link

It could be NUSD has instituted some great programs and they have some good students. I don’t know their challenges.

When a district like ours relies on top performing students and families who pay for tutoring, they are taking some undeserved credit and may not be providing the best programs available (why provide anything if parents are doing it after school). There has been a lot of touting of blue ribbon and distinguished school awards. They are, first, a complete waste of staff time. They also don’t tell you what goes on externally to create high achieving students/scores. Heck, many administrators hate to admit demographics play a large(r) role in student success.


4 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 16, 2018 at 5:52 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Seems like a conflict of interest!

The teachers teach all day in the classroom, then teach after school lets out in tutoring schools.

What are the teachers teaching in the tutoring schools that they cannot teach in the classrooms during normal school hours?


6 people like this
Posted by @Race To the Bottom
a resident of Ruby Hill
on May 16, 2018 at 6:26 pm

Wow "Race To The Bottom" - you seem to make a lot of negative claims that might just need some facts to back them up, or people are going to think you are creating Fake News.

"continuously pay these huge payments to each and every teacher for the 'health plan' that only a few of them actually purchase"

How much are these "huge payments" you speak of? And what percentage is "only a few" that actually purchase?

Last time this was "debated" in the blogs - it turned out that the percentage of PUSD teachers that needed to purchase health care was close to 35% and rising, which is a lot more than a few.

If you expect to hire new teachers out of college, (to get rid of all those expensive experience teachers) - then the new hires will need to purchase health care. PUSD health care plans were super expensive - so new teachers ended up getting a better deal if they taught somewhere else where the healthcare was included in the hiring package.

Hopefully PUSD has addressed this issue, but it was not that long ago -- so my guess is the situation still exists.


6 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 16, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Most districts pay a salary and add a benefit package. Some districts now provide a small stipend if you do not take the benefit plan--saves them much more ($20,000 cost vs $2,000 stipend).

The difference at PUSD is that many years ago the then cost of benefits was rolled onto the salary schedule. It was a very senior staff at the time that wanted to increase their retirement benefits. So it was $10,000 in 1986. Since then, the value of the $10,000 has increased with each raise. As of a year ago, that $10,000 is now worth $22,505 (after all the subsequent raises. Note: there were years with 0% changes). The biggest problem, however, is the CPIU for the Bay Area would indicate the value should be $25,355. That's not a big difference, but raises have not kept up. Adding to that pain, the union is paying for benefits from one of the most expensive providers (PERS I believe). There is one advantage, if they pay for their benefits through PERS, they can continue the benefits after retirement.

So there is a lot of "we don't get benefits," but it simply isn't true. If one needs to be the provider of benefits, the money is there, just in a less traditional way. If one doesn't need benefits, they take the money home. A fair comparison of salary and benefits with other districts would be to pull out the $22,505 from every cell on the salary schedule. Then you would know how far behind our teachers likely are.

For many years it has been stated the percentage of those taking benefits is about 40%. I have not asked recently if that is still the case. I imagine if staff is younger and single, this is a significant cost. To my knowledge, there does not seem to be a will to look at less expensive plans with higher deductibles.

The district cannot afford to keep salaries the same and then add benefits back as a separate perk. They also cannot afford to give significant raises to compensate for the cost of benefits because it also adds to how much the district must contribute to the pension funds.

It's fairly much lose lose.


2 people like this
Posted by @Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Ruby Hill
on May 16, 2018 at 7:32 pm

Kathleen,

So confused what you mean by this statement:

"So it was $10,000 in 1986. Since then, the value of the $10,000 has increased with each raise. As of a year ago, that $10,000 is now worth $22,505"

As recent as 2008, PUSD teacher starting pay was approx. $10,000 higher than that of Livermore for example (which on the surface level looked attractive) but Livermore included health benefits, PUSD did not. (we know the backstory)

So basically PUSD gave new hires 10K extra to purchase health benefits that cost them about 16K per year.

Fast forward ten years to 2018 and the difference in starting pay between PUSD and Livermore is now about 12K, and the cost of healthcare in the last 10 years has increased a lot more that 2K as we all know, but the "stipend" has not.

So where are you getting the "worth $22,505" statement?

Do you mean that PUSD teachers now get 12K to pay for healthcare that now cost $22,505 - cuz that seems more in line with reality.

Or do you meant that $10,000 in 1986 is now worth $22,505??, but PUSD is giving teacher $12,00 instead??

Could you clarify..

Starting in PUSD= $65,850
Starting in Livermore= $53,243

Livermore Teacher Salary Schedule
Web Link

Pleasanton Teacher Salary Schedule
Web Link





Like this comment
Posted by Race to the bottom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2018 at 9:11 pm

To @Race to the Bottom, the huge payments I am referring to is the fact is that when you compare the top and bottom of both the Livermore and Pleasanton salary schedules that the poster above lined to, Pleasanton teachers are paid anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 *more* for the same position in Livermore (most positions the work year includes around 3 months off), a salary that is not sustainable and is why Pleasanton is always crying tears of poverty.

The top pay level is over $10,000 more in Pleasanton

Top Livermore - $97,468
Top Pleasanton - $107,982

The bottom pay level is over $12,000 more in Pleasanton

Bottom Std Livermore - $53,241
Bottom Std Pleasanton - $65,850

You can compare each cell with each city and come up with a direct comparison.

Any analysis will show that the Pleasanton teachers are grossly overpaid.

The other thing is in spite of them being grossly overpaid, there are tutoring center after tutoring center in Pleasanton shopping centers all over town. In some shopping centers, there are 4 tutoring centers. I don't see nearly the volume of tutoring centers in the city limits of Livermore, do you?

The other thing is that no matter what these teachers do - not follow accommodations, even it involves a Federal complaint to the Office of Civil Rights with a child with severe asthma that was hospitalized for being forced to run a mile run in middle school in spite of 504 written accommodations preventing the mile run - these teachers never get fired....even if a child could have died. These administrators seem to never get fired either. Here is what I am referring to - Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Race to the bottom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2018 at 9:19 pm

I forgot to include the Resolution Agreement for the then 8th grade middle school student at Web Link for the Federal investigation that happened at the XXXXXX XXXX XXXXXX School

Pleasanton Unified School District
Office for Civil Rights
09-16-1070
Resolution Agreement


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 16, 2018 at 9:53 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Race, if you back out $22,000 from what you say is Pleasanton’s top pay of $108,000, you’d get $86,000. That’s less than Livermore’s top pay by about $11,000. Livermore, I assume, is getting paid $97,500 *plus* benefits—in addition to salary.


4 people like this
Posted by @Race to the bottom
a resident of Ruby Hill
on May 16, 2018 at 9:54 pm

Sorry, I thought you were contesting the salaries of PUSD teachers, but sounds like you have a war chest of issues to address.

Getting back to the salary comparison so we can wrap that up, I think you are avoiding the key point that a teacher in PUSD may have a 10K higher salary than Livermore (for example), but that teacher in PUSD needs to use that 10K to pay for 22K in health care costs per year as Kathleen is pointing out...so there are actually 12K behind :(

It sounds like not all teachers in PUSD need to purchase health benefits from the district, (cuz they are on a spouse's plan, or a their parents plan - hah) so they are in the fortunate position of keeping the extra 10K per year. (but let's just call it $835 a month before taxes to be more accurate when describing their windfall!)

However, (here is the key comparison point) this also means that the other half of PUSD that needs to purchase health benefits is $12K in the hole compared to other districts, such as Livermore as you point out.

So remind how many PUSD teachers are grossly overpaid? and by how much?

If you are going to throw out statements that include the word "analysis" :

"Any analysis will show that the Pleasanton teachers are grossly overpaid."

Then, I think you need to provide all the pertinent information... or as I cautioned earlier, people might accuse you of generating Fake News and dismiss all your talking points.


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2018 at 10:02 pm

@Race to the Bottom

So you point out the 504 violation but neatly forget to include the facts that there was a issue with communication as the regular teacher was not there and the other teachers were not aware of the 504. Yes, this is an issue but it is not a gross oversight by a specific teacher

Secondly, Arick Little is not currently a teacher in PUSD

Third - The point Katheleen was making is that the PUSD salaries do not include benefits. If you compare Livermore to PUSD, you must subtract out the cost of benefits which for most is over $2K per month. I honestly don't know if Livermore includes benefits but I beleive that is what Kathleen says.

Forth - Your "grossly" overpaid statement shows that you are grossly under-informed and have no idea what you are talking about. SO let me ask you...what should a teacher earn? You are free to give an hourly rate based on the number of hours a teacher works. (Let's keep in mind that when these students are not under the supervision of a teacher they are being molested, doing drugs, being beaten, poisened, etc as stated by KY Governor)

The sad thing about the internet is that it give people like you a voice that should never have a voice because you don't care about the facts.


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2018 at 10:11 pm

@Race to the Bottom

And yes, there are equally a large number of tutoring centers in Livermore, but again, who cares about the facts.

And the truth about these tutoring centers...many parents send students there as a status symbol. Do you really think there are a lot of 2nd graders who need math tutors? Of course not. Are these centers full of 2nd graders getting math tutoring...of course. Many high schoolers are forced into tutoring because they wont' do anything at home and it doesn't help anyway. Yes, some students benefit. But....you know what? There is FREE tutoring (at least at AVHS) after school. I'm guessing that is pretty much empty because free tutoring doesn't have the same cache.


2 people like this
Posted by Race to the bottom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2018 at 11:07 pm

PUSD cannot afford its high salaries and built-in add-ons for the health plan that are paid to all teachers and then get fed into their retirement pensions.

The salary schedule should be ditched.

You asked: "SO let me ask you...what should a teacher earn? You are free to give an hourly rate based on the number of hours a teacher works." Teachers should not have an hourly rate. Teachers should be paid based upon their performance in the classroom and on pure performance, not a standard hourly rate.

Teachers should not be based on seniority and a salary schedule like the antiquated union-driven model used, for example, to base salary and wages for a grocery clerk on seniority. It should be performance based - children should be tested in September and May of each year - teachers with children who improve in test scores should get rewarded. Those that don't improve should not be rewarded. Those with classrooms that over a three year period show no improvement or regress should be fired. For each student that has to obtain outside tutoring, they should be docked $1000 per kid in annual salary. For example, if you teach a math class of 40 students and 20 students have to resort to outside tutoring, you should get paid $20,000 less than a comparable math teacher.

Arick Little is classified as a Teacher On Assignment (TOA) in District records on the internet that are on their website. He is also listed as owner of STEPS in his Linkedin summary. If you have information that he has resigned in the last week or so from PUSD that has not yet been published, please forward the web link.

I have not run into any parent in Pleasanton that considers having to send their kids to tutoring a "Status" symbol. In fact, rather than being a "Status" symbol in fact they are mainly quite unhappy about having to take the time outside of school hours to have an outside party teach their children. In fact most believe that the material taught in the tutoring centers are what their children should be learning in the classroom at school.

There are many more tutoring centers in Pleasanton than in Livermore. Count them and make sure you include all of the students being tutored every day in Pleasanton under the name of 14 Heritage Schools in Pleasanton where over 1200 students go as well compared to Livermore Heritage Schools (1).


6 people like this
Posted by Jimmy The Jet
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2018 at 7:36 am

Jimmy The Jet is a registered user.

Race to the bottom,
So teachers get 1 check at the end of May for the year?
"It should be performance based - children should be tested in September and May of each year - teachers with children who improve in test scores should get rewarded. Those that don't improve should not be rewarded."

Words matter... "rewarded" is not the way anyone thinks of their salary. Teachers earn their salary just like everyone else.


13 people like this
Posted by @Race To the Bottom
a resident of Ruby Hill
on May 17, 2018 at 7:41 am

Tutoring Centers in Pleasanton??

You know what I just researched and discovered, they are a ton of tutoring in centers in San Ramon too! - what does this mean?

In fact, San Ramon has more tutoring centers than Pleasanton!! And yet there are less tutoring centers in Livermore.

So kids from SRV, Monte Vista and Doherty are all going to tutoring centers as well, what gives here?

This is a mystery.

Let's just say hypothetically that the schools in Pleasanton, Livermore and San Ramon are no better or worse than each other (I will bet in reality they are darn close) - yet still these tutoring centers are popping up in some towns.

My theory is that in certain areas and demographics parents are pushing for a competitive advantage for their kids anywhere they can get it, and are willing to pay for it. So a good business model (like the tutoring centers) will follow the money and the demand.

Many of these tutoring centers also offer specialized SAT and ACT prep as well, which students are starting to sign up for as early as 7/8 grade.

Or possibly, as "Race to the Bottom" points out - maybe the teachers at all these schools are in a plot to purposely teaching in "vague" ways during the day so that in the evening they get to go and work three more hours to make more money.

I am not sure that teachers would need any extra money though, because as "Race" points out they are "grossly overpaid" so why the tutoring centers?? The mystery continues....


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Posted by Liz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2018 at 9:10 am

Regarding the comment that there are a "ton" of tutoring centers in San Ramon? In Livermore? Great, then list them all one by one. I only see a handful when I drive through there. Maybe they are all hidden. Or don't really exist. How many of these are staffed by Livermore and San Ramon teachers employed by the school district?

But Pleasanton has several dozen, not including the heritage centers. They are not only in shopping centers, but many are scattered throughout both business parks including the Hacienda Business Park and Valley Business Park as well as in office buildings off of Black Avenue, off of Koll Center Parkway, etc etc etc. Then there are at least 10 more that I know of that have no physical location, but send tutors to meet in places like the library. And of course the math teachers teach at STEPS which was started by union leader Janice Clark of APT, but is now operated by Arick Little.

The other issue I see is that PUSD and the Board are not being transparent and possibly violating the law by not disclosing resignation of management staff. By law, aren't they supposed to include departing administrators in the Personnel Actions on their Board agendas? I don't see any mention of Baker leaving, but he must have resigned quite a while ago because the job posting for his replacement is now expired. Also, why was Munsell's departure hidden as well? Who else is leaving and why is PUSD hiding departing administrative staff?


4 people like this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of San Ramon
on May 17, 2018 at 10:30 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

@Race: your research is a bit flawed. Do you know SRVUSD has twice the schools and double the student population of the City's you mention? It's not an apple-to-apple comparison.
And to say '....all go to tutoring centers' is an opinion not based on facts.


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2018 at 3:51 pm

@Race to the Bottom - so you refuse to answer how much a teacher should get paid, yet you are admant that they are 'grossly overpaid"

It seems that you are just another idiot without any real information.

Sure, you want to implement a performance based salary and you are free to suggest that, but there still has to be some actual salary you feel is appropriate.

So how much should the best teacher in the district get? How about the worst?



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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2018 at 3:53 pm

"Arick Little is classified as a Teacher On Assignment (TOA)"

Yes, that means he is not currently a classroom teacher. Please become informed before making false claims.


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2018 at 4:16 pm

@race to the bottom

"I have not run into any parent in Pleasanton that considers having to send their kids to tutoring a "Status" symbol."

And this just shows how uninformed you are about the schools in our town. I'm sure when you were in school or had kids in school things were different. But things have changed. Stop by any tutoring center and count the kids that are there that really need outside assistance vs those that are there to "get ahead" and those that miss school all the time for sports or other events.

Go talk to the schools and teachers and see how many of those students (that actually need help) use their time in the classroom, meet with the teacher outside of class hours, do their homework, go to the free tutoring (if offered), etc.

You will then start to get the real picture and actually get some information behind your rants. I get it, it is much easier to go blah blah blah without facts as that is the way of the world right now. I also know, that me giving you facts will not change your mind. But I implore you to go get the facts yourself.


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Posted by Race to the bottom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2018 at 5:47 pm

At the end of the school day, most teachers zoom out of the parking lot almost immediately after school has ended. I do not know of any teacher who regularly stays after school to tutor students 'for free.' If you ask most teachers they will refuse to stay after school and refer parents to the "bargaining agreement" that regulates teacher hours. They are only contracted to stay after school for the "Open House" and "Back to School Night." Very sad. And they tell their students that too.

Perhaps they are going to their off-site paid tutoring locations which is why they rush from the parking lot as soon as the bell rings.

Me Too stated "Secondly, Arick Little is not currently a teacher in PUSD." Yes, he is. He is in fact a Teacher on Assignment. Then you stated he is not a classroom teacher. The fact, is he is currently a teacher in PUSD and is listed as Teacher on Assignment. He is employed by the District and whether he teachers in a classroom or a conference room or in a gymnasium, it does not matter. He is a teacher employed by the District and is also running STEPS tutoring center.

Teachers do not work during the full year as most employees do in other public and private sector entities. During the year school year they have 28 work days off which equates to about 5 1/2 weeks. Compound that with the time they are off in June, July, and the first week and a half in August, which is another 10 1/2 weeks. 16 weeks out of the 52 week year, teachers do not work. That means that roughly 30% of the year, teachers do not actually work. They work 70% of the year.

Then you need to look at the amount of half days teachers do not work because of minimum days. Then you need to look at the amount of classroom time is spent with the teachers not actively teaching. I stand by my statement that teachers are grossly overpaid.

If they were doing their jobs, there would not be tutoring center after tutoring center after tutoring center located within Pleasanton city limits, where the lease rates are high.

Perhaps in the future school districts will make sure teachers are independent contractors or get to a model where they are 'at will' employees that can be terminated any time like any corporate employee in California. That should solve many of the problems of school districts like PUSD.


4 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2018 at 7:08 pm

BobB is a registered user.

I agree with what "Me Too". I remember back in 2010, when waiting for our kids in music lessons, the conversations would sometimes turn to what tutoring centers the others were using, and which one had the most prestige. It was quite clear that these parents would use outside tutoring and exam prep regardless of what was happening during normal classroom hours.


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Posted by Marc Acheson
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on May 17, 2018 at 8:24 pm

I'd love to respond to some of the comments about being overpaid and about tutoring centers, but I have too much to do tonight. I will, however, get back on topic. (And anything I say is my opinion alone. )

What Harvest Park needs in a principal is someone who will be there for the long term: at least three years, if that's not too much to ask. Someone who understands the kids of today, and makes decisions in their best educational interest first. Teachers and parents can come next, equally. Someone who gets around the campus and gets to know the students, and their names. See and be seen, at the least. And someone who will hire the next generation of great teachers at Harvest Park.

Robin Munsell, by the way, meets most of this description in my opinion. I'm sad her tenure will be shorter than I expected. Harvest Park was lucky to have Robin, and to have her influence on things to come at HP.

What Harvest Park doesn't need is the blathering, slandering, and degrading bile posted here, by almost everyone. I'd venture to say that if any prospective principals see this thread, the chances of them taking the job would decrease.

I've spent too long and probably said too much already. Don't expect me to reply.

Sincerely,

Marc Acheson


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Posted by Realist
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on May 18, 2018 at 12:26 am

My guess is that she is leaving because of a vested interest in protecting herself through status quo procedures/bureaucracy rather than taking up the challenge of what is best for students that need extra support. It results in a lot of push-back from parents who are trying to advocate for more support (from educators who proclaim they are professionals at this stuff) and she doesn't want to deal with that. Sorry (not sorry), but that's personal experience. Don't come to admin in a high-scoring district thinking the job is easy.


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Posted by Joyce
a resident of Birdland
on May 18, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Race to the bottom - Have you ever spent any time in a classroom? Teachers deserve respect and the backing of the community. It’s great you have all this free time to calculate the percentage of the year that teachers don’t work.
If your children aren’t getting good grades, maybe get them to bed early and have them listen in class and actually work while they are there. If parents don’t respect teachers, kids won’t either.

PW should maybe know better than to allow the public to comment on every single story.


23 people like this
Posted by Just Sad
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 18, 2018 at 5:21 pm

Compare PUSD to FUSD (Fremont)
The top of their salary schedule is currently over $114,00 plus 3% more for a Masters Degree, and another 3% for a Ph.D. Fremont teachers are up for another 3% raise because New Haven (Union City) pays more than Fremont. Many of you are completely uninformed, and when the next batch of teachers retire, you will realize that PUSD can't continue to attract the best and brightest. Whether community members want to face the facts or not, PUSD is no longer competitive. Of course, many of you will compare us to San Ramon and Livermore. Well, both communities are much more supportive and have passed parcel taxes in years our community said no. Thus, their schools are in better shape. Services have also declined. Remember, PUSD used to employ reading specialists and have Barton tutors to help our most struggling students. It's not all about the money for teachers; the support for children has also decreased. When services decline for children, teaching is more challenging. Teacher training is practically nonexistent, so there is very little consistency from class to class to a teacher to teacher. That is NOT an APT issue; that's poor management. Money should never go to more cabinet positions and district office staff until services which were taken from our children are restored. No successful business cuts staff development. PUSD used to be the envy of the Tri-Valley; this was THE PLACE to work. On another note, comments on this blog are read by a potential teaching candidate and portray our community has a cold and mean place. Yet, most of the parents in this community have worked tirelessly to keep the schools afloat.


3 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 18, 2018 at 9:23 pm

So youre saying we should funnel more money into a system that isn't spending current funds well?

We supported a bond for a new school...where is it? Ive lost complete trust in the districts ability to manage money. No more from me


Posted by 7 principals at HPMS or have I lost count?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood

on May 19, 2018 at 6:16 pm


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Posted by Ej
a resident of Birdland
on May 19, 2018 at 7:36 pm

@7principals, wow, did you send your kid to school with a stopwatch to time the amount of minutes the teacher was teaching? Guess what, If your kid told you that he was lyiing. Maybe your kid just sucks at math or wasn't paying attention. Other students in his class are moving onto accelerated math classes in High school without problems or blaming the teachers.
It's ridiculous the Pleasanton weekly allows this vitriol about our teachers and school administrators. There is no purpose to it except to be cruel, and calling out individual teachers with bullsh*t claims about their teaching is disgusting and false. I would be very disappointed if I found my middle schooler participating in this type of online harassment, yet the local newspaper is rife with it.
All because a good principal is leaving her job for personal reasons? Last time you quit your job was there a public forum of people speculating about it? Check yourselves people!


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Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2018 at 10:24 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@Ej,

How do you know that kid was lying? There are some teachers in PUSD who should probably retire or find another line of work. There are also many good teachers.


24 people like this
Posted by Ej
a resident of Birdland
on May 19, 2018 at 11:42 pm

@Bob, I'm glad you asked! I know that kid was lying because my daughter was in class with him. Some people say he's a big liar. He was on his phone watching you tube for 31 minutes out of a 44 minute period. When my son knew him he didn't like him. Some of his friends are smart though. Is there a way to find out if kids like him, from Alisal, are on their phones more than other kids? I heard that the school district is purposely providing laptops so that the kids from "Alisal" would be on their phones less. Now I would give you the name of this kid, especially since I have so much inside information on him and this is a nice neighborhood forum but maybe that's not okay? What do you think?


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 20, 2018 at 7:34 am

EJ, you stated:
"All because a good principal is leaving her job for personal reasons?"

I think part of the issue is Cheever and now Munsell left, no explanation given by anyone at district. 7 principals in 2 years and no explanation from the district.

These are public jobs paid for by public dollars. If a person want anonymity, they should seek a job in the private sector. The public has a right to know what is happening over there. I think everyone can agree there is an issue.


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Posted by Leadership
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on May 20, 2018 at 4:48 pm

My opinion is that Harvest Park in particular has a overt hostility problem toward students and families that permeates the math department, but that is not to say all math teachers are like that over there. And the administration does nothing about it.

You can see this when the math teachers put together Word Problems (that usually have absolutely nothing to do with the subject they are supposed to be teaching, but take hours to do) where they themselves put themselves in the role by name within the Word Problem of embarassing or harming students. For example, they'll post a problem about them personally pushing students overboard on a ship like this one - Web Link and post it to the taxpayer-paid for PUSD website. But these problems are not from some book, but from some online message board or something like it. This problem is almost an exact copy of a Circular Massacre problem off of some Math Forum like this one Web Link where people are pushed overboard until there is one survivor.

There are cringeworthy problems similar to this all of the time that come out of no real book that students are required to do.

Harvest Park has had a lot of problems and it has for years. This is not new and it continues, but someone really needs to take a hard look at the culture there and the PUSD management and figure out how teachers are able to continue doing this for years and years. The administrators tend to laugh it all off as if it is one big gigantic joke (teachers pushing students overboard until there is one survivor - oh hilarious, what fun!).

These are vulnerable middle school students, not college age adults that might find this funny. However, I don't think this type of Circular Massacre problem would be found in college settings either. And no one found the arrest of Briggs at the Harvest Park site very funny either (math teacher). No one seems to be monitoring what happens in the Math department.

Maybe Acheson or Dankwardt need to be put in charge of the accelerated math classes instead. And the accelerated math classes in middle school need to teach real Algebra (not off the wall problems about Circular Massacres like the link above) so that the Algebra 2 teachers in high school don't have to start at square one and re-teach Algebra 1. And maybe Acheson or Dankwardt need to be in charge of the math department.

Whoever the incoming principal is will have their hands full. They need a strong leader whoever it will be that is willing to remove teachers from classrooms. Algebra content should be in Algebra classes. Students should not be expected to write Java computer programs to solve assigned Word Problems that have nothing to do with Algebra but manually take hours or days to solve. And why teachers are pulling problems off of old Math Forums and assigning them is beyond me. Isn't the PUSD supposed to provide course materials and work books?


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Posted by AskingForAFriend
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2018 at 9:55 am

Wondering if there's any truth/confirmation to Munsell's social media account(s) being a reason for her leaving/quitting/dismissal, etc. FB posts not proper for a middle school admin to leave public, etc. Was it a vicious rumor, or what? And Cheever...well...his reason for needing to look for an East Bay job caught up to him, is what the story was across the bay. Nothing too scandalous, just if someone had dug deeper at the district, they wouldn't have hired him in the first place.


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Amador Estates
on May 21, 2018 at 10:41 am

AskingForAFriend, you are spot on abotuy cheever, i have a few family members that worked with him in prior jobs and they said he would never last. they were surprised he lasted 3 months honestly.

regarding vetting: "We have thoroughly vetted Robin Munsell through a rigorous interview process that included staff and parents from the Harvest Park Middle School community, as well as through a finalist interview with the superintendent's cabinet,"

makes you wonder if it was social media, why it was not discovered in the vetting process the district touted?


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Posted by Love HP
a resident of Birdland
on May 21, 2018 at 10:49 am

I love HP. I currently have a 7th grader and 9th grader. I've met w MANY HP teachers in order to help my children succeed. Middle school was very hard for my oldest, she is now doing excellent at Amador. Each teacher I met with was so helpful, patient and encouraging. Before bashing people, go on in and meet them and ask questions. I find them very approachable.


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Posted by Amador Class of 1977
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 21, 2018 at 11:27 am

Boy! All this makes me glad I went to school in the last century! I was in accelerated math (took calculus at Las Positas at night as a HS senior - paid for it myself!), went on to Ga Tech and Stanford to get engineering degrees. My point being that people expect much more out of teachers and schools today - too bad the basic teaching and learning of math has become so complex and politically correct.


4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Amador Estates
on May 21, 2018 at 12:46 pm

With all due respect, comparing school in 1977 to now is a bit of a stretch. what you learned in 11 and 12th grade is taught to 7th and 8th graders now. much more need for additional support and with the switch to common core, its pretty difficult for a parent to step in and assist because each lesson is built off prior ones.

Pleasanton schools are good schools but they have issues. putting them out in the open helps to get the issues addressed and makes the schools better.


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Posted by Amador Class of 1977
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 21, 2018 at 2:41 pm

I was in a very aggressive accelerated math program before they were generally available - no AP - so I do believe I know what I am talking about. I was the only freshman in the Pleasanton school system taking geometry and had to get special approval to do so. I was also the only senior taking college level calculus at Las Positas as a senior.

And I did it with very little support beyond my own abilities and a great math teacher mentor.


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Posted by Amador Class of 1977
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 21, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Adding: started Algebra in 6th grade, 7th and 8th grade math in 7th grade and Algebra 1 in 8th grade....


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

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Nominations due by Sept. 17

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