PUSD weighs math changes | February 2, 2018 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - February 2, 2018

PUSD weighs math changes

Also: Senior cabinet raises, more bond-funded laptops

by Julia Brown

A group of parents and students packed Tuesday's school board meeting to express concerns about potential changes to the district's math offerings.

The district has released a draft future math pathways proposal that recommends the phasing out of the middle school five-year pathway -- an accelerated math program that currently allows students to complete math 6/7 in sixth grade, math 8/algebra in seventh grade and honors geometry in eighth.

Under the current proposal, math 6/7 would be eliminated from middle school in the 2018-19 school year, math 8/algebra in 2019-20 and honors geometry in 2020-21.

A letter provided by Tri-Valley Asian Association president Sylvia Tian and addressed to Superintendent David Haglund and teachers states parents "strongly oppose the proposal."

"Every student should be provided with an appropriate place in the school," an excerpt from the letter reads. "Math-passionate students should have a chance to enjoy the challenge and the inspiration of learning advanced math, which will pave their way to STEAM study."

An online petition calling for the Pleasanton Unified School District to retain the current math program has received 1,007 signatures as of Tuesday evening.

Tian was one of 10 residents who spoke in favor of the continuation of the accelerated math program during the public comment period at the beginning of Tuesday's meeting. She said many parents were not aware that PUSD was considering changes to its math offerings and said she hoped there would be an opportunity for public input.

"We need the guardians and parents to understand what's going on in our school district so we can be involved," Tian said. "Our school district is renowned for its quality. Let's push it up rather than drag it down."

PUSD director of secondary education Ken Rocha said at the conclusion of public comment that the district has not yet presented a formal plan on future math pathways and that PUSD will be taking feedback at forums planned for Tuesday, Wednesday and Feb. 28.

Tuesday's forum will be held at Hart Middle School, Wednesday's at Pleasanton Middle School and the final one at Harvest Park. All meetings will take place from 6-7:30 p.m.

"We owe it to ourselves to have a conversation publicly about how we can best serve our students and making sure we're hearing our community's voice as well," Rocha said.

In other business

* After approving raises for classified and management/confidential employees at their last meeting, trustees approved comparable salary increases for assistant superintendent of educational services Odie Douglas and deputy superintendent of business services Micaela Ochoa on Tuesday evening.

Ochoa and Douglas' salaries will go up 2% retroactive to July 1, and they will receive a one-time bonus equal to 1% of their salary this school year that will be calculated after the 2% increase is applied.

The board also approved one-year extensions on their employment agreements.

Ochoa's contract, which previously ran through June 30, was extended through June 30, 2019. The agreement with Douglas now runs through June 30, 2020.

Trustee Jamie Yee Hintzke voted in favor of the compensation increase for Douglas but against his contract amendment and extension. She did not give a reason for her opposition.

The compensation increases are respectively estimated at $6,048.39 and $5,949.40 overall this year. Effective July 1, Ochoa's salary will be $205,645.26. Douglas will receive a base annual salary of $200,940.

On Jan. 16, the board approved the same percentage raises for classified and management/confidential employees, along with a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the California School Employees Association. That followed their approval of comparable raises and a new CBA between the district and the Association of Pleasanton Teachers in November.

Haglund, assistant superintendent of human resources Julio Hernandez and assistant superintendent of student support services Ed Diolazo -- who are all in their first year with PUSD -- will be eligible for compensation increases following their annual review at the end of the school year, said PUSD spokesman Patrick Gannon.

* Trustees approved a recommendation to spend $259,000 in Measure I1 funds on laptops and external DVD drives for teachers instructional staff.

In September, the board authorized the purchase of 450 Macbooks and 132 external DVD drives for K-8 teachers and instructional staff at a cost of $432,000 in bond revenue.

As part of the next phase in this Measure I1 project, administrators recommended Tuesday that 27 Windows laptops, 225 Macbooks and 30 external DVD drives be purchased for high school and district office teachers and instructional staff.

Administrators plan to return to the board several times between now and spring 2019 to request to purchase more laptops and dispose of ones that have been replaced.

* In another bond-related item, the board approved administration's recommendation that MeTEOR Education be selected as the furniture vendor for the Lydiksen Elementary modernization and rebuild.

The district will purchase pilot furniture for up to three existing classroom prototypes -- kindergarten, grades 1-3 and grades 4-5. Students and staff will test different furniture styles and configurations for at least one full school year beginning this fall before a bulk order would be made for all classrooms.

The estimated furniture budget for the project is $400,000.

* In closed session, the board appointed Emily Knaggs acting assistant director of special education. Knaggs most recently worked as a program specialist at Harvest Park's iPAL preschool, an inclusive program for preschool students with special needs and general education students.

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