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Dublin: School board approves new contract with teachers, selects superintendent search firm

Also: Contract confirmed for Interim Superintendent Marken, ex-trustee Cunningham honored

It was a busy evening for the Dublin Unified School District last Tuesday, as 10 action items -- several of them much-anticipated -- drew dozens of educators and community members to the Board of Trustees' meeting chambers.

Among the most significant was final consideration of a tentative labor contract between DUSD and the Dublin Teachers Association, an agreement that came after over a year of negotiations that reached a boiling point in March when the DTA threatened to strike if a resolution wasn't reached.

On Tuesday, DUSD assistant superintendent Mark McCoy invited DTA president Roberta Kreitz to the lectern and they presented the new contract together. After thanking both teams for their work, the three DUSD trustees approved the contract with a resounding unanimous vote.

"The greatest asset we have in Dublin is our teachers and staff," DUSD board president Amy Miller said in a joint statement with DTA leaders on Wednesday. "Lack of adequate funding for public education in California makes it difficult to show them how much of a priority they are. We do prioritize our people and feel good about what this means for our students."

"This tentative agreement is a good step in the right direction toward investing in educators and the future of our community ... our students, Kreitz said in the joint statement. "Thank you to the Dublin community for your support during this long process. We have always been and will continue to be committed to our students."

Under the new contract, which will run to the end of next school year, teachers will receive a 4.5% ongoing salary increase, a 1% one-time bonus and a health insurance subsidy. The agreement also ensures additional counselor support, caseload caps for special education, safety and security enhancements and K-5 class size limits, among other provisions.

The funding comes from the district's non-mandated reserve, according to a DUSD statement.

The two bargaining teams announced that they had reached a tentative agreement for the new contract proposal on April 12. DTA leaders presented the provisions to its members the following week, and union membership voted 99.8% in favor of ratifying the contract.

The agreement ended over 13 months of labor negotiations between district administration and its largest employee union, a tense timeframe that included union members supporting a potential strike and the school board later mutually parting ways with third-year superintendent Leslie Boozer -- a decision announced March 26 to applause from DTA members at the board's meeting that night.

"Both parties came together to make this agreement one that prioritized our employees and took to heart the best interests of our students," Interim Superintendent Dave Marken said in a joint statement."I believe they can both walk away feeling they have achieved their goals. We are pleased to reach this milestone for our students, staff and community."

In other business

* Another hot-button issue on Tuesday's agenda was the board's selection of an executive search firm to lead the recruitment process for finding DUSD's next permanent superintendent.

The board received proposals from three firms, but only two were deemed responsive to the district's specific guidelines: Leadership Associates and Hazard Young Attea Associates (HYA).

After much deliberation, following a public interview process with representatives from each firm, the trustees voted unanimously in favor of HYA. The search process is estimated to cost $26,500 and could conclude anywhere from September to Jan. 1, depending on the board's desired timeline, according to HYA representatives.

The timeline could be affected by the two current vacancies on the Board of Trustees -- created by the petition-prompted nullification of Nini Natarajan's appointment to the board for Trustee Area 4 in February and then the abrupt resignation of Dan Cunningham in March creating a second vacancy. The board's current uncertainty could make potential superintendent candidates hesitant, according to HYA officials.

HYA recommended the board wait to hire a new superintendent until after a fourth seat is filled the special election scheduled to take place on June 4, however the search process could begin immediately.

The firm's "Signature Search" process would be divided into four phases: "Engage Phase," which would take three to four weeks and include approving selection criteria and administering a community survey; "Recruitment Phase," which would include recruiting candidates, interviewing candidates and processing those most qualified over six to eight weeks; "Select Phase," which would narrow the candidate pool over three to four weeks; and "Transition Phase," which would include announcing the appointment, planning for the transition and bringing the new superintendent on board over an undesignated time period.

* In the meantime, the board last Tuesday approved a contract for Marken to serve as interim superintendent until June 20 or the first working day of permanent replacement -- whichever happens first. If a replacement is not selected within that time frame, Marken's term may be extended.

For now, Marken will receive $1,300 per day he works, but will not receive health benefits, paid holidays or sick leave. A retired school administrator, Marken will only work Mondays through Thursdays to protect his pension.

The board also approved an employment with assistant superintendent Matt Campbell to serve as acting superintendent when Marken is unavailable, through Sept. 6 with the possibility of a contract extension if the board does not select a permanent replacement by that time. Campbell will be paid an additional $2,500 a month on top of his usual pay in his permanent role of assistant superintendent of educational services, and he will support Marken in addition to carrying on his regular work assignments.

* The three trustees recognized their former colleague Cunningham, who resigned unexpectedly from a position he had held for over 10 years on March 1.

Cunningham received a plaque, cake reception and messages from board members, educators and community leaders like Congressman Eric Swalwell, Dublin Mayor David Haubert and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty.

* The 15-item consent agenda was unanimously approved, along with the 10 action items on the regular agenda, which included the adoption and purchase of new McGraw Hill textbooks for social science classes, and the reading of new board policy that was created in compliance a new California law that, effective July 1, will mandate schools that offer interscholastic athletic programs to have at least one automated external defibrillator (AED).

Editor's note: Kali Persall is a freelance reporter for the Pleasanton Weekly.

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