The Pleasanton school board will work through a range of items, from by-trustee-area elections to site improvement projects on a light but varied agenda at their regular meeting on Thursday, starting 6 p.m.
Last month the board received a presentation from district staff about the advantages and drawbacks of by-trustee-area elections, where candidates are elected by voters in geographic subdivisions, and are considered legally immune from challenge under the California Voting Rights Act.
Currently PUSD trustees are elected in at-large elections, by all voters throughout the district, but the CVRA prohibits the use of “at-large” elections in certain circumstances. Because of this, hundreds of California public school districts and other local agencies have transitioned from at-large to by-area elections.
A resolution declaring Pleasanton Unified School District's intention to start the process to transition from at-large to by-trustee area elections is slated for adoption at the Sept. 9 board meeting, including a general outline of the development process for the trustee area boundary map. Starting in the November 2022 general election, the map would be used in PUSD trustee elections.
During their Aug. 26 meeting, Board President Joan Laursen said she does not plan to run for another term next year, and moved to agendize the matter because "it's about access and inclusion for the whole community and how to reduce the barrier."
Once the transition is complete, board members will represent one of five areas within the district's enrollment boundaries, and be required to live in the area they represent. Voters will elect a candidate only from their trustee area instead of picking from a pool of at-large candidates.
If there are no declared candidates for a vacant trustee seat, the board will be responsible for appointing a representative from that district.
Along with seeking legal support, a demographer will be contracted and is expected to cost an estimated $40,000 to $45,000. Last month staff also said the district could be ready for the general election in November 2022, when the seats currently occupied by both Laursen and Trustee Mark Miller -- who also announced he will not seek another term next year -- will be open to challengers.
In other business
** Two years after joining the administration at Walnut Grove Elementary, vice principal Dwight Pratt is now the school's interim principal, effective July 1, according to district documents. The board is expected to ratify his appointment on Tuesday night as part of the meeting's consent agenda, which are items considered routine in nature that are normally passed in one council motion, and with minimal or no discussion.
Former Mohr Elementary principal Julie Berglin was originally slated to replace outgoing principal Chris Conner at Walnut Grove in July, and is listed as the new principal on the Walnut Grove website, but Pratt will now serve as interim principal instead. The district has not given a reason for the change in leadership or said when a permanent leader will be appointed.
** On Tuesday, the Board will finalize an agreement for design services on a number of roofing and HVAC projects planned at various school sites next summer.
Though not ambitious like the new multistory classroom buildings currently under construction at Foothill and Amador High, the projects will also use $1.75 million in Measure I1 bond funding to repair, replace and recondition the roofing and HVAC systems in summer 2022. The sites where work is to be completed include Amador and Foothill, as well as Fairlands, Hearst, Lydiksen and Vintage Hills Elementary.
In a report, staff said certain buildings listed for each site "are the next buildings on the priority list established by the Maintenance/Operations Department and Facilities/Construction Department." The contract with Sugimura Finney Architects includes development of design through construction documents and construction administration during the construction project.
** In an effort "to encourage social distancing among students and to reduce the potential spread of COVID," the trustees are set to authorize up to $400,00 to use In Person Instruction Grant Funds for purchasing picnic tables and benches for PUSD sites.
The district "will procure the needed outdoor seating and reduce the lead time by utilizing competitive contracts from the cooperative purchasing organizations (i.e. CMAS, OMNIA)."
Along with the purchase of picnic tables and benches on Tuesday, the board is also expected to extend leases another year for 28 portables at seven PUSD sites. The portables include 10 at Amador Valley High, six at Foothill, four at Hart and three at Harvest Park Middle, two each at Valley View and Fairlands Elementary, and one at Vintage Hills, for a total of $249,972.
** After reaching an agreement with the California School Employees Association last month, the board is expected to finalize the contract between PUSD and classified staff members.
The deal includes an across-the-board 1.5% salary raise for all CSEA members, based on a squared salary schedule that went into effect last year, as well as a 3.68% increase of district contribution toward medical benefits. Retroactive payment as of July 1, 2020, is also due by no later than Sept. 30.
CSEA members will also split a $350,000 one-time payment among themselves; the 2020-21 fiscal year agreement includes adjustments to a classification compensation study as well that were made based on recommendations from the union.
Though not Tuesday's agenda, PUSD recently announced that the Association of Pleasanton Teachers was offered a two year compensation package (2020-2022) equivalent to a 5% increase, prior to declaring an impasse last month, "and it remains the district's offer at this time."
According to the district, the total compensation package includes "both one-time and ongoing salary increases, as well as improved stipends for all special education staff, nurses, psychologists, speech language pathologists, and behaviorists."
Officials added, "Our proposal also includes new stipends for middle school teachers in extracurricular programs, as well as an increase in the professional rate of pay from $32.15 to $46.86. Finally, the district offered to grant up to 15 years of service credit to new hires, in order to help recruit experienced teachers."
In July, APT members received a 3.5% salary increase via annual step and column adjustments outlined in the existing collective bargaining agreement. The district also said they allocated $1 million for teach professional development during the 2021-22 school year.
"The district is ready to continue conversations, should APT choose to return to the negotiations table to finalize the collective bargaining agreement," PUSD officials said.
The Public Employment Relations Board recently "determined the existence of an impasse" between APT and PUSD, and a mediator was assigned for a Sept. 1 mediation date, with no update on whether any progress has been made.