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School board discusses tentative agreement with teachers union

Series of recognitions, ‘Unity Day,’ Lydiksen project changing course

The Pleasanton Unified School District trustees received a report on a tentative agreement with the Association of Pleasanton Teachers bargaining unit during a four-hour-long board meeting Tuesday night.

No action was taken Tuesday night, as this was just a discussion and an opportunity for the public to consider the agreement in advance of its prospective approval, said Julio Hernandez, assistant superintendent of human resources. The item had been slated for the meeting's end, but was moved up due to the late hour.

The proposed contract includes a 2.5% salary increase to the 2018-19 salary schedule, retroactive to July 1.

"I'm really pleased that we're able to offer our employees a raise," Trustee Joan Laursen said.

District staff from the Business Services Department estimate the cost of the tentative agreement to be $2,163,073, though the exact cost won't be known until payroll runs.

Along with salary increases, the contract allocates an annual stipend of $1,250 for speech language pathologists, behavior specialists, nurses and social workers. It also revises the language regarding leaves of absence in order to be in compliance with the California Family Rights Act, Hernandez said, specifically amending items relating to child bonding leave and to how employees accrue hours of service.

The agreement also includes instructional calendars for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years, along with start and end dates for the 2021-22 year.

"We agreed with APT that we would try to get two calendars ahead, so that we could make some planning ahead of time," Hernandez said.

The agreement is scheduled to return to the board for potential approval at their Nov. 13 regular meeting.

The board's agenda listed the APT salary increases up for a final vote Tuesday night, but district staff says that verbiage was a typo. District administration recommends approval of the deal.

In other business

* The board heard a report on the Lydiksen Elementary School modernization and rebuild project.

Last time this project came before the board was in March, when trustees had approved its conceptual design. And in June, the district published a notice for bids for the modular building portion of the project. They only received one response, however, and at $21.3 million, JL Modular's bid was about $6.5 million above the engineer's estimate.

So after discussing options with JL Modular and the designer Aedis Architects, district staff are looking into various cost-cutting, "value engineering" possibilities, according to Nick Olsen, director of facilities and construction. Some of these include combining the TK building and the kindergarten cluster, removing from the plans a staff restroom or the large covered patio, and just overall reducing the project's scope.

"The best way to cut costs in a project like this is to cut square footage," Olsen said.

They plan to continue updating the project design with the value engineering recommendations included, and then putting out a call for bids again in December.

* Board members approved a proposal to combine two Measure I1 bond projects, advancing $5.783 million of bond funds by two years.

The projects combined the high school portable replacement project with the new high school science lab project at Amador Valley and Foothill high schools, moving the science lab funds from Issuance C (2022) to Issuance B (2019).

A key benefit of doing this, Olsen said, is cost saving -- approximately $1.2 million per campus, by mitigating escalation costs and through savings from economies of scale. By moving up funds and combining the projects, the move will also minimize disruption on campus, he added.

* Earlier in the meeting, the board presented a series of public recognitions.

Two Harvest Park Middle School employees, librarian assistant Sue King and head custodian Stacey Leal, were honored as "Purveyors of Hope," due to their efforts following the fire that erupted at the school's library over the summer.

Next, parents and guardians on the Special Needs Committee were recognized as "Champions of Change," for their work in raising ability awareness throughout the district.

Trustees also recognized Jeff Solomon from D-Prep Incorporated for leading safety training workshops for district staff, and finally the students from the Amador Valley High School Local Leaders of the 21st Century, who were previously honored by Innovation Tri-Valley as "Dreammakers and Risktakers," were singled out for leading environmental stewardship efforts at their school and in the region.

* In her usual report, APT President Janice Clark pulled out a few items on the consent calendar referencing district contracts with nonpublic schools and agencies to provide additional services for special education students.

Clark voiced the concern that PUSD was hiring outside specialists, rather than seeking to meet these standards within the district itself.

"Our district is having to resort to contracting expensive outside contractors because we are failing to attract and retain new hires in these specialized fields," she said.

The items passed along with the other collection of items on the consent agenda, with the exception of 11.3, regarding HVAC replacement at Pleasanton Middle School, which was pulled for the next school board meeting on Nov. 13.

* Board members approved a resolution in support of Bay Area United Against Hate Week from Nov. 11-18, and proclaimed Oct. 24 to be Unity Day. The board and staff took turns to read aloud the resolution.

"When communities work together against intolerance, we can restore respect and civil discourse, embrace the strength of diversity and build inclusive and equitable communities for all," the resolution reads.

Clark took note of this item as well in her comments, adding that bullying and cyberbullying against teachers is on the rise, and that goals of inclusion need to consider them as well.

* Staff from the Educational Services Department presented a report on the district's intervention and integration specialists program, which centers on supporting students who qualify as English learners, special needs, socio-economically disadvantaged, gifted and talented and homeless and foster youth.

The report highlighted a variety of support systems in place, including during access and flex periods, along with the use of technological interventions for students. The presenters also emphasized the key importance of lesson design, as a way to best help all students learn.

"We are the connectors, from the curriculum department, to the administrators, to the teachers, to the students and even their parents," said Lisa Highfill, an instructional technology coach in the district.

* Trustees received a report on the results from the California Assessment of Student Progress and Performance (CAASPP), which were released earlier this month.

This assessment is given to all students statewide in grades 3-8 and 11. Overall data didn't show a great deal of change in results, said presenter Pam VandeKamp, the director of assessment and accountability.

However, she noted that English learners and students with disabilities were performing at higher levels, indicating that the district's targeted interventions for these sub-groups in particular were helping to close achievement gaps.

* District social workers presented an update on mental health supports and services currently in place for district students, staff and the community. A more detailed story on this item will follow online in the days ahead.

* The meeting concluded at 11 p.m., at which point the board and staff adjourned to closed session, to finish up some business left over from the closed session that preceded the public meeting.

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