After postponing a vote on the matter earlier this spring, the Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved pay raises for the district's executive cabinet at its Nov. 12 meeting.
Certificated and classified staff received similar raises this past school year, and it was time to do the 2.75% salary increase for the cabinet, Board President Steve Maher said before voting that evening.
"At that time, we had a $11.5 (million) deficit from the state, and certainly we've had that down now to a little over $5 million, but I think it's time that we take care of our cabinet and our superintendent," Maher said. "I would certainly argue with anyone that they have waited patiently, everyone else in the district has received their compensation and the cabinet and superintendent did not."
The cabinet will receive "a comparable 2.75% compensation increase" for the 2019-20 fiscal year that "shall be incorporated as an addendum to the employee's existing contracts," according to the district.
The board postponed the pay raises in May, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic and sheltering orders started, and agreed to revisit the matter during fall.
Maher added, "I would like to make it clear to the community that it isn't an additional raise. It is the money that could've been voted back in the beginning of spring 2020, and we did not."
Trustee Valerie Arkin, who leaves the board soon for her newly won seat on the Pleasanton City Council, joined the other trustees in agreeing with Maher's sentiment.
"The timing of when it was, earlier this year, it was right before we were projected to cut $11.5 million out of our budget," Arkin said. "(Maher) and I both had those concerns about that, and we haven't had to cut $11.5 million out of our budget, and we did agree to look at this later."
"We both expressed at the time: This was in no way, shape or form any type of comment about the performance or anything of our cabinet, our admin, anybody," she added. "Everybody's doing an incredible job here and working really hard."
During the public hearing, district employee Linda Pipe said, "Quite frankly, I'm a bit flummoxed by this line item as I think that it's kind of a slap in the face to the members of CSEA who were blocked from getting the full benefit of the class and comp study earlier this year."
Pipe also called the raises "tone deaf" and "unnecessary," noting that cabinet contracts have an automatic 3.5% to 4% annual increase already built in.
She also took issue with recent labor negotiations, stating that labor groups attempted "to bring salaries of the lowest-paid employees in the district to a more competitive level after 20 years of neglect."
"The union was told at the end of these negotiations only that the monies obtained would be through the 2.75 'Me too' (clause) and that was all that would be available for use, so CSEA employees not even brought up to the 50th percentile of competitive districts, and many were left out because the district cried poverty," Pipe said.
Pipe added the 2.75% plus the contracted annual raises would give the district's highest earning employees a 5% to 6% increase during a time when many parents, teachers and other community members are "working harder and longer hours simply to stay in place and not fall behind."
Trustee Jamie Yee, who will be leaving the board soon after three terms, said the salaries for superintendents in neighboring school districts were as much as $30,000 higher than PUSD, adding, "It really is not super competitive, so I just want to put that out there."