The Pleasanton school board unanimously approved salary increases, additional salary steps and health insurance options to management and classified staff during its last meeting of the fiscal year.
The trustees in May approved a tentative agreement with the Association of Pleasanton Teachers that included compensation adjustments for the upcoming year. Because of that agreement, the Pleasanton Unified School District extended a similar offer to management as well as certificated and classified employees.
"Throughout my year here, I've got to meet so many directors, principals, vice principals, just everybody and looking at these salaries I just know they're so well deserving," outgoing Student Board Trustee Saachi Bhayani said during the June 23 meeting.
"I'm really glad that we finally have space in our budget to give them even the additional four steps and the health insurance and everything and I'm really glad we've been able to do this because they deserve every penny," she added.
There will be a general salary schedule increase of 3% as well as an addition of four steps to the management salary schedule to offer growth and incentivize current employees to stay with the district.
Each step of the schedule represents a 2% increase, district officials said.
The increases in the salary come after what assistant superintendent of human resources Julio Hernandez said were flaws in the district where some of the positions like principals made more than a high district office employee.
Hernandez told the board there was a case where an employee holding an administrative credential was making more money as a teacher than as an administrator.
However, he also said another main point in this package was the addition of medical insurance.
"We lost some of our candidates last few years to other school districts based on just medical need," Hernandez said.
In the offer, there will be an increase in medical coverage to cover the employee cost for single Kaiser, dental and vision or if they decide to opt out, employees have the option for $2,000 cash in lieu.
"While the coverage is tied to a dollar amount, those dollar amounts do cover a single Kaiser if someone chooses a medical plan," assistant superintendent of business services Ahmad Sheikholeslami said. "If they choose another medical plan, they can use those dollars towards that."
In other business
* The school board approved the District Technology Plan for July 2022 to June 2025, which will serve as a roadmap to continue improving, monitoring and optimizing technology in the district.
The plan addresses the use of district technology, the technology assets, infrastructure and support staffing that is provided to meet the needs of all the schools.
Chief technology officer Robert Torres told the board that a lot of these new updates will be used to streamline the work already underway. One example he presented was the plan for an optimal centralized command for the technology department.
"What it really means is that we're separate from the central office and be able to see what's happening on this network at all times," Torres said. "Rather than rely on a teacher calling and saying, 'Hey, you know, wing 8 is down in this school,' we want to be able to see that, forecast that and have the ability and have the tools to be able to do that almost like the air traffic controller."
Torres said the district will also address cybersecurity so that insurance does not raise and hold rates high. One of the solutions that will be coming to the district will be a multi-factor authentication system where you are notified on your phone before logging onto anything.
There will also be updates to information and assistance systems and how technicians will be deployed to schools and classrooms who need technological assistance.
Trustee Mary Jo Carreon said she was concerned about how technology specialists will be responding to cases where a teacher experiences an outage and needs immediate assistance. Board Vice President Steve Maher expressed the same concern after learning that not every school will have an on-site specialist and will have to wait for one to drive to the school.
Torres said that there will be an emphasis on professional development so that everybody knows what to do in any situation, which in the latter case would be knowing how to reach out to the technology department and issuing a request.
Sheikholeslami assured the board these requests will be handled appropriately depending on how serious the situation.
Along with Google being updated, there will also be a new student information system that is set to begin in the early fall, which will use artificial intelligence to get information out.
* The board approved a 2022-23 "grading for equity contract" with Crescendo Education Group, which provides professional development for PUSD teachers and administrators to support continued implementation of equitable grading practices in middle and high schools.
A group of teachers presented their experiences over the last year as they each implemented equitable grading practices in their classrooms in the form of not assigning homework and allowing students to retake quizzes and tests.
Nimarta Grewal, now-former director of secondary education, presented findings to the board last month that illustrated a need to focus on mastery of skills and content rather than on student compliance such as attendance or effort.
"Students need consistent opportunities to retake assessments and demonstrate proficiency in a subject," Grewal said. "The grades data reveal that many students have struggled during the pandemic, but in particular, underserved student populations experienced the most inequitable outcomes."
Leslie Galliano, an English and history teacher at Harvest Park Middle School, said that once her students got into the swing of retaking quizzes and exams, she saw a big jump in students who went from B's to A's or from C's to B's.
"I had a student who was a very, very tough nugget; she was my project for the year we spent a lot of time together. She had to retake or rewrite almost everything and she hated me," Galliano said. "At the end of the school year, she came up to me and she just said, 'Can I talk to you for a minute?' And I was like 'sure, what's up,' and she says, 'Thank you for never giving up on me.'"
The contract cost is just over $125,000, Grewal said. She added that there is about 15% to 20% of teachers already adopting these new grading practices but added that there are those less enthusiastic to make the change.
She added that teachers have already received an overview of the new practices three times this past school year and that the next year will be a lot more intensive in terms of implementing the new grading system district wide.
Trustee Kelly Mokashi said she saw firsthand the positive effects equitable grading policies had on her own children where they had to do retakes and were not penalized.
"I really do hope that this can also transcend down to the elementary level and particularly for the fourth- and fifth-grade teachers at some point," Mokashi said.