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Pleasanton Unified proceeding with plans for by-trustee-area elections

Also: Measure I1 projects, finalizing CSEA agreement, Walnut Grove admin change

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."

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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.

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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.

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Pleasanton Unified proceeding with plans for by-trustee-area elections

Also: Measure I1 projects, finalizing CSEA agreement, Walnut Grove admin change

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Sep 8, 2021, 9:59 pm

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.

Comments

Frustrated Voter
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2021 at 12:42 pm
Frustrated Voter, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2021 at 12:42 pm

Not everything in this article is true. APT members did NOT receive any raise in July, other than what was already scheduled to be paid according to the existing salary schedule. Senior management received a 3.5% increase on their salaries as well as extended medical coverage for their families. APT members do not receive medical coverage at all unless a member opts to pay for it, effectively reducing their salary commensurately. PUSD does not contribute to an APT member’s medical option. Voters, ask questions! This either is bad reporting or untrue statements from the district office.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Sep 10, 2021 at 8:41 am
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Sep 10, 2021 at 8:41 am

I will point out one legacy error, Frustrated. You do have benefits because many years ago, APT voted to move benefits ($10,000) onto the salary schedule. It was a very senior staff at the time, and they were padding their salaries for retirement benefits. We can argue about how well raises have grown that $10K and whether it makes sense today, but those with benefits from a spouse still outweighs those without. I just want that to be clear, because adding coverage again will be messy and very expensive. People should ask questions, but understand how this portion got where it is today.


Wow
Registered user
Castlewood
on Sep 12, 2021 at 9:27 am
Wow, Castlewood
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2021 at 9:27 am

Yes, a teacher who is married to someone with healthcare receives a higher check than someone who is not. You are absolutely correct. But the district is misleading everyone when they say teachers received a 3.5% raise through step and column. When they announced the raises of cabinet members a few months ago, they did not include step and column. It was announced cabinet received a 3.5% raise but if we include step and column, as they did with the teachers, they actually received a much higher raise (I believe it's 7% but I could be off on my numbers).

Teachers are frustrated and feel disrespected. SRVUSD, Dublin, Castro Valley, and Livermore all gave a one time bonus to any staff member who returned to school. This was one time money provided by the state of California. All of these districts also gave raises. Yet PUSD remained silent. Teachers were the glue which held the district together when we came back. Yet it is the teachers who are being asked over and over to do things by district management they shouldn't have to, for example giving up their duty free lunch to monitor students while they eat.

Teachers are incredibly frustrated. We absolutely love our students and are happy to be back. But the level of disrespect from cabinet is toxic and will have repercussions if not dealt with effectively.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Sep 12, 2021 at 1:02 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2021 at 1:02 pm

Can’t argue the issues around raises, and I’m not a fan of the superintendent. We can certainly change the board, but someone needs to teach board members to not take everything the superintendent says as gospel or we will stand where we are now, but with new people in the seats.


Amazing
Registered user
Old Towne
on Sep 13, 2021 at 7:58 am
Amazing, Old Towne
Registered user
on Sep 13, 2021 at 7:58 am

I find it amazing that the district is offering a $3000 stipend for teachers to teach on Saturdays.


50 Years Here
Registered user
Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 14, 2021 at 8:00 am
50 Years Here, Pleasanton Heights
Registered user
on Sep 14, 2021 at 8:00 am

Of all the things our Board could be doing to improve our schools, changing how the elections are done is at the top? Really?


Truth
Registered user
Downtown
on Sep 17, 2021 at 3:07 pm
Truth, Downtown
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2021 at 3:07 pm

Regarding Kathleen's earlier comment, it is true that originally PUSD did offer benefits to teachers as part of their compensation package, and that sometime in either the 80's or 90's the policy changed so that teachers could "opt out" and the district benefit contribution could be translated into salary. Teachers had to show proof of spouse coverage to "opt-out" of benefits, and those who did not show proof were limited to plans offered by the district (which were not exactly the most affordable options available). The Affordable Care Act changed the proof-of-coverage requirement so that teachers could still opt out of district plans if they wanted to choose their own coverage outside the district's offerings.

This was originally a big win for teachers whose spouses already provided benefits, since they could effectively receive what the district would have paid for benefits in added salary. It effectively gave Pleasanton teachers who could opt out the highest salaries in the area by a considerable margin (close to highest in the nation). However, in the long term it was a win for the district, since it tied the future burden of increasing healthcare costs to the teachers instead of the district. Over the roughly 30 years since this policy change, healthcare costs have FAR outpaced inflation and salary increases, turning the original benefit into a burden.

A comparison of salary schedules between PUSD and SRVUSD suggest that Pleasanton teachers, on average, make about 10k more than San Ramon teachers, but San Ramon teachers receive 100% compensation for traditional Kaiser HMO coverage (or the equivalent compensation toward higher-priced plans) as well as complete vision and dental coverage. For a family plan this is nearly $27k in additional compensation. Twenty years ago, Pleasanton teachers still made enough in salary to outpace their neighbors, but today SRVUSD teachers are receiving, on average, over $15k in total compensation over PUSD teachers per year.


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