News

PUSD union staff 'disgusted' by pay increases for upper administration

Board President Laursen says 'we have some room to improve' for teacher pay

Amid negotiations with both collective bargaining groups at Pleasanton Unified School District -- and heavy criticism from some union members -- the Board of Trustees unanimously approved compensation increases for the district administrative cabinet on Thursday.

Five district cabinet members including Superintendent David Haglund received new employment agreements with PUSD. The contracts stipulate a 3.5% increase in salary and fully covered health, vision and dental benefits for the employee as well as their spouse and dependents.

But the pay raises didn't sit well with many members of the California School Employees Association, which represents the district's classified employees including receptionists, custodians, paraeducators and cafeteria workers. During public comment at Thursday's regular board meeting, Amador Valley High site registrar Linda Pipe said she was "disgusted by the disingenuous nature of PUSD leadership and decision-making."

"You as a board have the responsibility to make sure that all employees are treated fairly, yet when CSEA requests that our benefits even remotely keep pace with basic inflation, we are told this isn't, and I quote, 'in the best interest of the district'," Pipe said, adding that benefit stipends given to classified workers "does not even cover the cost of the lowest Kaiser plan for employee-only."

Along with extending his term for one additional year, thereby creating a new four-year agreement, Haglund's base salary is set at $317,148. The agreement -- which takes effect July 1 and expires June 30, 2025 -- also "provides longevity benefits at the beginning of the 5th and 7th year of service" and keeps all existing contract provisions "in full force and effect."

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

Contracts for assistant superintendents Janelle Woodward, Julio Hernandez, Ed Diolazo and Ahmad Sheikholeslami also stipulate similar dates, terms and conditions but extended their terms for a three-year agreement, instead of four, and will each receive a base salary of $222,252. The 3.5% compensation increase for all five cabinet members will extract about $54,143 from the district's general fund.

Ahead of a district staff compensation analysis also presented on Thursday, CSEA President Derek Psaros said, "I want for the trustees to ask deep questions about compensation -- who gets it, how they get it, how it compares to our neighbors and if the data presented is apples to apples. Also, what compensation within and outside of wages might heal this poor morale."

Board President Joan Laursen acknowledged later that PUSD is "not the lowest paying district in the county but we have some room to improve, and we're going to do the best we can with the money that we get."

"It's been a conversation at the board level and with staff talking about what are we going to do about that, to look at our compensation structures and try to start offering benefits and move that along," Laursen added.

But Laursen defended the employment agreements with the administors toward the end of the meeting and said the district added paid medical "because that's what we're hearing when we're looking at hiring administrators -- that those are things that they're considering and determining what's right for themselves and their families."

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

"This is not a secret deal, but the process of looking at ways in which we can make our administrators competitive so other districts don't lure them away from us," she said.

"That means we took a look at it in terms of the whole district, like what are we trying to do to improve our competitiveness with our other administrators, with CSEA, with APT," Laursen said, adding that the board was "looking at it from a competitiveness for the whole organization."

Among 15 school districts in Alameda and Contra Costa counties used as comparison groups during the presentation on staff compensation, New Haven Unified School District in Union City was ranked No. 1 for teacher salaries despite not having a parcel tax.

This fact upset Cheryl Vangundy, a technology specialist at Vintage Hills who contacted the Weekly before the meeting and said PUSD "often states that they have less funds than other districts because they don't have a parcel tax."

Last year 29 classifications were below the market mean, according to the compensation analysis, but Vangundy said those positions account for more than a third of classified staff, "nor does it state that PUSD has been below the 50th percentile in terms of compensation based on the local labor market rate for some time." A compensation study from last year left many employees without any pay raise.

The Association of Pleasanton Teachers, which represents certificated employees at PUSD, showed support and solidarity with CSEA on Thursday. APT President Michelle VerKuillen told the board that she's had "several disconcerting conversations with our educators in the last month" about salaries not keeping up with the cost of living.

"I am seeing more mid- and late-career people leaving our district because they are being outpriced of the Bay Area," VerKuillen said. "They cannot afford to stay here even at this point in their careers."

VerKuillen also declared the district's competitiveness has "waned," and warned administrators that new hires who have "voiced concern because they did not realize that the district does not contribute to benefits...will probably not stay" because surrounding districts are luring away talent by offering benefits or benefit stipends on top of posted salaries.

"We have to invest in our programs, and our programs include our educators," VerKuillen said. "Supporting our students means investing in educators so they can live and be a part of their community."

The district is scheduled to resume negotiations with CSEA next Thursday (July 1) and with APT on July 8. Officials said they have requested another meeting with APT in early July to discuss bell schedules and other concerns they wish to negotiate.

Several new public employee coordinator appointments were also announced on Thursday, three of which are new job descriptions approved last month. The job titles include coordinators for human resources, student services, high school operations, and academic extended day and intervention programs. Compensation for the positions range between $133,695 to $147,609, with part of the money for those salaries coming from the unrestricted general fund.

A front row seat to local high school sports.

Check out our new newsletter, the Playbook.

Follow PleasantonWeekly.com and the Pleasanton Weekly on Twitter @pleasantonnews, Facebook and on Instagram @pleasantonweekly for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Stay informed on important education news. Sign up for our FREE daily Express newsletter.

PUSD union staff 'disgusted' by pay increases for upper administration

Board President Laursen says 'we have some room to improve' for teacher pay

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, Jun 27, 2021, 3:17 pm

Amid negotiations with both collective bargaining groups at Pleasanton Unified School District -- and heavy criticism from some union members -- the Board of Trustees unanimously approved compensation increases for the district administrative cabinet on Thursday.

Five district cabinet members including Superintendent David Haglund received new employment agreements with PUSD. The contracts stipulate a 3.5% increase in salary and fully covered health, vision and dental benefits for the employee as well as their spouse and dependents.

But the pay raises didn't sit well with many members of the California School Employees Association, which represents the district's classified employees including receptionists, custodians, paraeducators and cafeteria workers. During public comment at Thursday's regular board meeting, Amador Valley High site registrar Linda Pipe said she was "disgusted by the disingenuous nature of PUSD leadership and decision-making."

"You as a board have the responsibility to make sure that all employees are treated fairly, yet when CSEA requests that our benefits even remotely keep pace with basic inflation, we are told this isn't, and I quote, 'in the best interest of the district'," Pipe said, adding that benefit stipends given to classified workers "does not even cover the cost of the lowest Kaiser plan for employee-only."

Along with extending his term for one additional year, thereby creating a new four-year agreement, Haglund's base salary is set at $317,148. The agreement -- which takes effect July 1 and expires June 30, 2025 -- also "provides longevity benefits at the beginning of the 5th and 7th year of service" and keeps all existing contract provisions "in full force and effect."

Contracts for assistant superintendents Janelle Woodward, Julio Hernandez, Ed Diolazo and Ahmad Sheikholeslami also stipulate similar dates, terms and conditions but extended their terms for a three-year agreement, instead of four, and will each receive a base salary of $222,252. The 3.5% compensation increase for all five cabinet members will extract about $54,143 from the district's general fund.

Ahead of a district staff compensation analysis also presented on Thursday, CSEA President Derek Psaros said, "I want for the trustees to ask deep questions about compensation -- who gets it, how they get it, how it compares to our neighbors and if the data presented is apples to apples. Also, what compensation within and outside of wages might heal this poor morale."

Board President Joan Laursen acknowledged later that PUSD is "not the lowest paying district in the county but we have some room to improve, and we're going to do the best we can with the money that we get."

"It's been a conversation at the board level and with staff talking about what are we going to do about that, to look at our compensation structures and try to start offering benefits and move that along," Laursen added.

But Laursen defended the employment agreements with the administors toward the end of the meeting and said the district added paid medical "because that's what we're hearing when we're looking at hiring administrators -- that those are things that they're considering and determining what's right for themselves and their families."

"This is not a secret deal, but the process of looking at ways in which we can make our administrators competitive so other districts don't lure them away from us," she said.

"That means we took a look at it in terms of the whole district, like what are we trying to do to improve our competitiveness with our other administrators, with CSEA, with APT," Laursen said, adding that the board was "looking at it from a competitiveness for the whole organization."

Among 15 school districts in Alameda and Contra Costa counties used as comparison groups during the presentation on staff compensation, New Haven Unified School District in Union City was ranked No. 1 for teacher salaries despite not having a parcel tax.

This fact upset Cheryl Vangundy, a technology specialist at Vintage Hills who contacted the Weekly before the meeting and said PUSD "often states that they have less funds than other districts because they don't have a parcel tax."

Last year 29 classifications were below the market mean, according to the compensation analysis, but Vangundy said those positions account for more than a third of classified staff, "nor does it state that PUSD has been below the 50th percentile in terms of compensation based on the local labor market rate for some time." A compensation study from last year left many employees without any pay raise.

The Association of Pleasanton Teachers, which represents certificated employees at PUSD, showed support and solidarity with CSEA on Thursday. APT President Michelle VerKuillen told the board that she's had "several disconcerting conversations with our educators in the last month" about salaries not keeping up with the cost of living.

"I am seeing more mid- and late-career people leaving our district because they are being outpriced of the Bay Area," VerKuillen said. "They cannot afford to stay here even at this point in their careers."

VerKuillen also declared the district's competitiveness has "waned," and warned administrators that new hires who have "voiced concern because they did not realize that the district does not contribute to benefits...will probably not stay" because surrounding districts are luring away talent by offering benefits or benefit stipends on top of posted salaries.

"We have to invest in our programs, and our programs include our educators," VerKuillen said. "Supporting our students means investing in educators so they can live and be a part of their community."

The district is scheduled to resume negotiations with CSEA next Thursday (July 1) and with APT on July 8. Officials said they have requested another meeting with APT in early July to discuss bell schedules and other concerns they wish to negotiate.

Several new public employee coordinator appointments were also announced on Thursday, three of which are new job descriptions approved last month. The job titles include coordinators for human resources, student services, high school operations, and academic extended day and intervention programs. Compensation for the positions range between $133,695 to $147,609, with part of the money for those salaries coming from the unrestricted general fund.

Comments

Todd
Registered user
another community
on Jun 28, 2021 at 9:11 am
Todd, another community
Registered user
on Jun 28, 2021 at 9:11 am

While this news is not unexpected it is still disappointing especially after hearing that the district “can’t” afford more than a .5% raise for teachers and nothing for the CSEA staff. The load that has been put on the custodial staff, due to Covid, has been unbelievable and I’m sure the board has expressed their sincere thanks and gratitude to them. It is clear that the board has other selfish priorities other than bringing and hanging on to high quality staff. The teachers are now with an expired contract. I for one am going to sit back and see how this plays out and then do my talking at the next election. I think the last election should be a wake up call for at least one current board member.

Thank you PUSD teachers, aids, and CSEA staff for your TIRELESS hours you spend to educate our children/students and for your devotion and faithfulness in serving our campuses day in and day out! You are the ones that are in the trenches daily. You are all the true heroes and foundation of the district - not some Superintendent or some part time elected board members. May the staff stay strong and UNITED as they negotiate their new contracts!


Claudette McDermott
Registered user
Del Prado
on Jun 28, 2021 at 9:57 am
Claudette McDermott, Del Prado
Registered user
on Jun 28, 2021 at 9:57 am

A Classic "BUSINESS PRACTICE" that happens in every kind of business. Management continue to make more and more each year, while those that work under them, make less and less (no cost of living raises). It's sad that things are so backwards these days and even college grads don't get the respect by having higher wages than those that don't. Things have got to change otherwise there will be a price to pay.


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 28, 2021 at 11:06 am
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Jun 28, 2021 at 11:06 am

So much to unwind here.

First - Haglund and his team don't deserve raises. Sorry, you failed the students, you failed the teachers, and you failed the community. Now, that is not to say that tremendous effort wasn't put it. It absolutely was. But effort and results are not one in the same.

- Pre Covid - Haglund approved and distributed materials that disparaged the law enforcement community. He later stated he never read them and it was a mistake to distribute them.
- During Covid - Failed to file for the county waiver that would have allowed in person instruction (didn't have to use it, but absolutely should have pursued every opportunity available)
- During Covid - Failed to create a lesson structure that met the California minimum instruction hour requirement.
- During Covid - Failed to maintain student grades and test scores - and instead covered up the issue with grade forgiveness
- "Post" Covid - failed to build a new school (or return funds to the community) with the $35M the community provided

Those are undeniable facts. Added to those, are my opinions on other things that were poorly managed.
- Teachers were not prepared for remote lessons
- Community input was not taken into consideration (superficial at best)
- Misrepresented APT / board / school relationship and return to school status

Now, I don't think any of them deserve to loose their jobs as a result of the above, it was an unprecedented situation, and efforts were made. But raises? No way.



Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 28, 2021 at 11:14 am
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Jun 28, 2021 at 11:14 am

On teachers - yes they deserve raises, and especially more so than the administrative staff. And lets also be honest - teachers were not on the front line or in the trenches, in fact, as a "whole entity" they fought it. Some teachers really stood out, but we also saw the worst. And this just screams why a performance based compensation incentive is required. We need to attract, retain, and pay our teachers their worth and the union step and column increases punish the best and brightest teachers by hindering them to the lowest performing teachers. I fear the community will weigh those negative experiences greater than the best performing and thats unfair to the teachers that really doubled down and delivered the best teaching experience regardless of situation. We need progressive union reform (read dismantle and start new) here for students' education and teacher compensation.



Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 28, 2021 at 11:20 am
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 28, 2021 at 11:20 am

I would be happy with tenure shifting to first day of sixth year—five full years before tenure—rather than first day of third year (or two years before tenure). As one teacher said to me, anyone can fake it for two years.


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 28, 2021 at 1:32 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Jun 28, 2021 at 1:32 pm

Kathleen,
On tenure - can we discuss the purpose of this at the elementary school and middle school level? I have two concerns with tenure

1. Its not quantifiable in total comp - i.e. staff can accurately claim their salary is $X and while tenure is a "perk" its never quantifiable in the total comp equation. For purposes of marketing and educating both staff and taxpayers I think we should assign a dollar value to tenure (and sure, it may be a sliding scale based on years to retirement) - but lets dollarize it please so its objectively quantified in the total salary discussion.

2. Tenure was created to
- prevent teachers from being fired for political reasons
- academic freedom in the classroom
- protect against sex and race discrimination
all of which are already covered under civil liberties laws, and in the case of academic freedom the curriculum is set - the methods a teacher determines are open, but the content (and the reason tenure was created) is set.

Just seems to be another legacy policy that creates division more so than promotes educational progress.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 28, 2021 at 2:02 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 28, 2021 at 2:02 pm

I used to believe getting rid of unions was the only answer. I have since moderated to say easing out teachers who just aren’t cutting it is a faster solution. I could agree that some financial perk be added for the first day of the sixth year—something substantial enough to make it worth the wait. There does have to be a way for teachers, good/great teachers, to not get stuck where they never hit that sixth year or it takes longer than intended. Oddly, I was almost always in an at will employment. (There was a brief time where I had a contract.)


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Jun 29, 2021 at 8:54 am
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Jun 29, 2021 at 8:54 am

Getting rid of unions IS the answer, especially for professions like teaching, nursing, etc. Unions protect dead weight. If you can't cut it as an "at-will" employee, you deserve to be fired. Exemplary employees don't need union protection. Being employed at-will keeps you on your toes, and you will perform at your best. If not, your employer will cut you your last check, and rightfully so. The truth hurts.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 29, 2021 at 9:32 am
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 29, 2021 at 9:32 am

It is AN answer, but it is not achievable. Better to work with teachers (and others) to cut the chaff early in their careers. It’s better for students and teachers.


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 29, 2021 at 10:27 am
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Jun 29, 2021 at 10:27 am

I think we can agree the union structure as it exists today is not working - its failing education, its failing teachers, and its failing to deliver any benefit to the community and just creates a third party divide.

Personally I don't see meaningful change without dismantling the union, but I'm open to a reform discussion if teachers feel they still need it, but it has to look and operate significantly different than it does today.


DKHSK
Registered user
Bridle Creek
on Jun 29, 2021 at 9:21 pm
DKHSK, Bridle Creek
Registered user
on Jun 29, 2021 at 9:21 pm

"but it is not achievable"

ANYTHING is achievable. You sound like a lifetime government employee.

"Better to work with teachers (and others) to cut the chaff early in their careers."

You've missed the entire point. UNIONS WON'T ALLOW what you have outlined above.

Get rid of unions and do EXACTLY what Jennifer mentioned above.

Dan


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 30, 2021 at 8:36 am
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 30, 2021 at 8:36 am

I am not a lifetime government employee. I am being realistic about unions.

Tell me, Dan, how, in this very blue state, are you getting rid of unions?


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 30, 2021 at 8:40 am
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Jun 30, 2021 at 8:40 am

Continue to show the corruption and ineptness of them.


DKHSK
Registered user
Bridle Creek
on Jun 30, 2021 at 8:51 am
DKHSK, Bridle Creek
Registered user
on Jun 30, 2021 at 8:51 am

Kathleen,

"how, in this very blue state, are you getting rid of unions?"

Transparency and truth.

The information age has made it virtually impossible to hide misdeeds of any system. The unions will destroy themselves by way of information made public through transparency laws and actions by persons from the inside to expose corruption.

It happens nearly every week.

States (the sane ones) are now starting to reign in Education policies that impacting students such as CRT. See Florida and Texas.

Have you been paying attention to the school board meetings being published online where parents are taking back control of school boards due to CRT?

Changes are coming. Maybe a little too slow, but they are coming.

Dan


Jimmy The Jet
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2021 at 11:01 am
Jimmy The Jet, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Jun 30, 2021 at 11:01 am

"corruption" ??? APT? Did I miss something? It only took a couple of days to see CRT on this board. Not sure what CRT has to do with the folks getting 3.5% raises plus paid medical, dental and vision.
"The 3.5% compensation increase for all five cabinet members will extract about $54,143 from the district's general fund." Does this include Med, dental and vision? I know for one family Medical can be 15K or more a year.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 30, 2021 at 11:22 am
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 30, 2021 at 11:22 am

Established in 1863–158 years. Sure, time will change the unions; about another 158 years. “See Florida and Texas.” Couldn’t pick two worse states as examples of anything.


DKHSK
Registered user
Bridle Creek
on Jun 30, 2021 at 3:40 pm
DKHSK, Bridle Creek
Registered user
on Jun 30, 2021 at 3:40 pm
Gina Channell, Pleasanton Weekly Publisher
Registered user
Downtown
on Jun 30, 2021 at 4:05 pm
Gina Channell, Pleasanton Weekly Publisher, Downtown
Registered user
on Jun 30, 2021 at 4:05 pm

Unfortunately this conversation has devolved into bickering between a few and no real substance. So it is being closed.


Gina Channell, Publisher
Registered user
Downtown
on Jul 2, 2021 at 2:15 pm
Gina Channell, Publisher, Downtown
Registered user
on Jul 2, 2021 at 2:15 pm

I am re-opening this thread because it's an important topic. PLEASE stay on topic and avoid comments directed at another commenter.


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 2, 2021 at 4:22 pm
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Jul 2, 2021 at 4:22 pm

"If you are not part of the solution, you are a part of the problem".
Chief Richard Grass.


Get the Facts
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2021 at 9:11 pm
Get the Facts, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 3, 2021 at 9:11 pm

Yes Gina, it is an important topic. Our teachers, psychologists, counselors, nurses, custodians, secretaries, groundskeepers, etc. are all just as important as the top five in the district. In my two decades of teaching in the district, when a raise was given, everyone from top to bottom took it, no more, no less. When we took ten furlough days in '09-10, everyone from top to bottom took the loss, no more, no less. We did everything together. But now we have a new administration that thinks they are worth 3.5% more, while they think we are worth just 0.27% more. This has sown distrust in our ranks towards our leadership. I would never take a raise my fellow employees can't have as well. Our leadership should be ashamed of themselves.


Jimmy The Jet
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2021 at 1:32 pm
Jimmy The Jet, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 6, 2021 at 1:32 pm

The 3.5% compensation increase for all five cabinet members will extract about $54,143 from the district's general fund." Does this include Med, dental and vision? I know for one family Medical can be 15K or more a year.


Wow
Registered user
Castlewood
on Jul 6, 2021 at 2:26 pm
Wow, Castlewood
Registered user
on Jul 6, 2021 at 2:26 pm

Fascinating how many coordinators PUSD has recently hired (6). I wonder where that money came from and why the people who were doing the hardest work were offered a .27% raise?


Get the Facts
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2021 at 5:40 pm
Get the Facts, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2021 at 5:40 pm

To JTJ, yes this includes medical and dental.

To Wow, I don't want to sell the administration short, they work very hard, I would not want their job(s). But yes, lots of new administrators/coordinators and such, not to mention we used to have three asst. superintendents, but a few years ago we added a fourth.

Also, numerous people in the district office have been hired from SoCal, and commute back-and-forth each weekend. Makes me feel they are not invested in the community.

Just to be clear, these administrators were not given the raise, it was just a discussion at this point. But I bet it would have been given to them if there was a vote taken.


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 7, 2021 at 5:43 pm
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2021 at 5:43 pm

With four assistant superintendents there is no need for the superintendent that answers to doctor!


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

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