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Guest Opinion: Pleasanton Unified leadership is cheating students

Original post made on Oct 28, 2021

By putting their own interests first, and by undermining teachers, Pleasanton Unified School District leaders are creating conditions that lead to divisiveness, toxicity and distrust. When we fail our teachers, we fail our students.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, October 28, 2021, 11:28 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by Ennis
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Oct 28, 2021 at 5:14 pm

Ennis is a registered user.

Couldn’t agree more. Front of the line and no strategy to address compensation and benefit issues to make PUSD a ‘destination’ district again but rather approach the issue as a series of one-off conversations -we’ll think about it when it’s time to negotiate. Having listened to the district negotiate with one of the unions while my wife worked from home, there was repeated foot-dragging on negotiating, a lack preparation, and a disingenuous approach- any negotiation was an on-going beat-down exercise. Nor was there ever the sense that Classified employees were valued (ice cream token anyone?) How will you make PUSD competitive vs other local districts? Possibly you could outline a strategy at a Board meeting and create a task force to address the issue? Too many bright young teachers aren’t coming or have left Pleasanton due to compensation. How are you going to attract AND retain them? Board, where are you in demanding answers? WHAT IS THE PLAN?

What is continually raised in the Teacher compensation discussion is the point that teachers voted against the benefits over 10+ years ago. There are no organizations in this country that operate under the same health care assumptions in place 10+ years ago. My wife is now employed in a small district in SoCal. M/D/V is $430 per month OOP for both of us (with a $10 co-pay.) There are solutions, but no-one seems to be interested in going to find them (but we can continue to build the DO pyramid.) This might take time but to continually use this as a club is counter productive to solving the problem. Where are the solutions to address this?

There needs to be honest, solutions based strategic discussions. Board, engage. Cabinet, it’s not just about saying “No”. Get pro-active -many districts (DUSD) are working constructively to address these challenges. Organizations are only as good as the people who comprise them. We have a great/valuable Certificated and Classified workforce-start treating them as such.

Posted by Concerned Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Oct 28, 2021 at 6:51 pm

Concerned Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Jeff Keller, sadly you are correct. As a parent with children in PUSD schools, the last several years have been an eye-opening experience. The leadership has not only failed our students but they have failed our teachers as well. PUSD schools are great because of the teachers, not the leadership at the district office. I find it appalling that the board approved such a generous raise for the district leadership when they have been doing such a mediocre job. The teachers have been in the trenches the last few years, keeping it all together for our kids, yet they have received little to no compensation. How is this acceptable?

If the district leadership continues to value themselves over the students and teachers, everyone will suffer the consequences. Several excellent teachers left my son's elementary school last year and quite frankly, I don't blame them. Who would want to work for a district that doesn't value, support, or show appreciation for their staff? If PUSD wants to remain one of the top school districts in our area, then they need to reassess their values. I'm hopeful that the district leadership will do the right thing for our kids and teachers. The time is NOW!!

Posted by LanceM
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2021 at 9:39 pm

LanceM is a registered user.

Salary recap for Superintendent and Assistant Sups

3.5% raise every year
Received ADDTIONAL 4.5% last year while the teachers had been working for a year during a pandemic without a contract (so of course no pay increase)
If the teachers get a raise they get that TOO!
They get ANOTHER 2% raise in years 5 and 7.

The school board is right when they say there is only one pot of why is so much more being funneled away from the classroom to the top? It can't be because of the excellent job they are doing.

Ask the students who have substitute teachers for months or the entire year if leadership is attracting and retaining excellent teachers or simply "Is our leadership during their job?" I know that our leadership (including the school board) won't ask that question because in the infamous movie line "they can't handle the truth".

Posted by David
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Oct 29, 2021 at 2:50 pm

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We will miss our high quality schools when they're gone. Shame on our district leaders.

Posted by Ptown Baseball Dad
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 30, 2021 at 8:51 am

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Our teachers need to renegotiate their contract to include health care in their compensation package. Full Stop.

Posted by Pleasanton Deserves Better
a resident of Foothill High School
on Oct 31, 2021 at 5:33 pm

Pleasanton Deserves Better is a registered user.

When I spoke to the board during closed session on 10/28, I was under the impression that the trustees were unaware of the way the teachers are being treated by top district leadership and had assumed that the board needed to hear from those of us on the front lines to truly understand why the members of APT are so upset. Well, according to Board President Larsen, the trustees have been working in close collaboration with district staff since the beginning of negations and are well-aware of everything that’s been going on. Now I’m more incensed than ever knowing that the board has been complicit in the mistreatment of teachers and misinformation being shared with the public.

Below is an edited portion of my statement to the board:

I've been a  teacher at Foothill High School since 2002.  As you've already heard, for many years PUSD was a destination district. Now, those glory days are behind us and many long-time district educators are wondering, "What happened? How did it get this bad? When did the decline start and how did it go unnoticed?" It seems that this current miasma of deceit and disrespect has been gradually and subtly escalating to the point of crescendo.  We've all been deceived.

I urge you to ask questions and be skeptical about what you're being told. You won't have to look far or dig deep to find the truth. Just ask a teacher or a site principal or a student what things are really like on our campuses and you'll see the sharp contrast between the truth and what is being purported.

The people who had no problem finding money in the budget for their own compensation increases, are at best, misrepresenting the facts, and at worst, telling bold-faced lies in order to mislead the public and to continue abusing PUSD's workforce.

They crept in and slowly whittled away at the pride and standing of our highly qualified, motivated, passionate, committed teachers and now we are left feeling angry, demoralized, and abused. 

Posted by Pleasanton Deserves Better
a resident of Foothill High School
on Oct 31, 2021 at 5:34 pm

Pleasanton Deserves Better is a registered user.

This is the rest of my statement that didn't fit on the fist post:

I love my students. I work hard for them everyday and I expect my employer to honestly and ethically do everything in its power to support me and the students in the important work of teaching and learning. This is what the community of Pleasanton deserves.

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 1, 2021 at 12:06 am

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Agree so long as we re coup the spiked last yr salary vacation and sick time payout for pension pay in perpetuity.

Posted by Truth
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 2, 2021 at 3:43 pm

Truth is a registered user.

@ Ennis: Your comments are fully appreciated, but just to clarify one important detail... district teachers and leadership negotiated to exchange benefits for added salary 30 YEARS AGO. It's likely that there is not a single teacher in the district who is still employed by PUSD that was part of that negotiation. It's foolish to blame current teachers for that decision.

Although current management is not to blame for a three decades-old decision either, they MUST be the ones to develop a plan to re-establish district-paid health benefits for teachers. It won't be easy, and it may require cuts (or lack of expansion) of other programs, or even a parcel tax (Pleasanton is also the city in the region without one of those). But it is now a glaring problem in recruiting new teachers and retaining young teachers who still have the option to move elsewhere. There is a growing teacher shortage, and it will get worse before it gets better. Every surrounding district offers those benefits. Why would the best teachers choose PUSD under those circumstances? Why would ANY teachers choose PUSD? Parents, prepare for MORE long-term subs without qualifications.

Health benefits are not on the negotiating table this time around. But regardless of the outcome of this contract negotiation, the fact that district leadership dragged this negotiation out for over two years means that negotiation for the NEXT contract starts next year! Two board seats will be up for election next year as well. If potential candidates for those seats truly care about the long-term success of PUSD, they should have a plan for implementing health benefits for teachers as a central part of their platform.

Posted by Todd
a resident of Livermore
on Nov 2, 2021 at 6:49 pm

Todd is a registered user.

Why wait for the next election? Anyone heard of a recall? Other districts are doing it. As “The Truth” trickles out it’s important that we hold our elected board members accountable. Yes current management is not to blame for a decision that was made three decades ago but at least one “privileged” board member has been on the board for a while now.

“Well, according to Board President Larsen, the trustees have been working in close collaboration with district staff since the beginning of negations and are well-aware of everything that’s been going on”

Really?? Everything??? I wonder if President Larsen is aware that some teachers have been asked by admin if they can leave their classrooms for one or two days to assess students from other classes that have had subs??

If this is the result of working in close collaboration with district staff then the board this board has truly failed our children, the teachers, and this community. Time is running out people. Put the egos aside and figure this out! Now!!

Not trying to be personal but the ole saying “I did not sign up for this” does not hold water here because YES YOU DID. You ran and were elected our board members - please step up and fix this. Even though many are getting frustrated this can be fixed but sadly time is running out.

Actions speak louder than words people.

Posted by Candace Cease
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 2, 2021 at 8:47 pm

Candace Cease is a registered user.

Fremont teachers also took a pay raise and cut benefits many years ago, but FUSD continued to give fair and consistent raises to their teachers. FUSD teachers make more than PUSD's teachers and are given 3% on top of their salaries for a Masters Degree and 3% more for a PhD.
For example:
Top of PUSD schedule with Masters: $113,726 + $750 (minus paying for one's health benefits)
Top of FUSD schedule with Masters: $122,192 + $3666 (minus paying for one's health benefits)
Union City pays more than FUSD. So, why would one encourage a beginning teacher to come to Pleasanton? With the Bay Area housing market taking another crazy jump this summer, PUSD need a competitive salary schedule to attract and retain teachers.

Posted by Truth
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 2, 2021 at 9:17 pm

Truth is a registered user.

The board is complicit. Even those who are former teachers (Carreon, Maher) have been notably quiet or evasive on this when they could (and should) speak up loudly on behalf of teachers, who were instrumental in getting them elected. Haglund does a great job of sounding like a harmless, caring grandpa, but just like the rest of the cabinet, he's managed to give himself raises and benefits at every turn while directing his pit bull, Julio Hernandez, to nickel and dime, lie, mislead and disrupt teachers at every turn.

The sad reality is that regardless of whether an agreement is reached (strike or no strike) the anger and distrust will continue until the current regime is gone. Haglund and Hernandez must step down or be fired, and most of the current carpetbagging cabinet should go with them as well. They came here to squeeze an affluent and successful district for all it is worth. They have nothing invested in this community. They don't live here. Their kids don't go here. If the board does not see the toxicity this regime has brought to PUSD and how poisoned the well has become, the board should be replaced as well.

The next negotiation will be no less toxic unless leadership changes - board and cabinet.

Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 2, 2021 at 9:29 pm

Frustrated is a registered user.

Couldn’t have said it better. Thank you, Truth.

Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 2, 2021 at 9:30 pm

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Posted by Bay Area Native
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Nov 2, 2021 at 9:53 pm

Bay Area Native is a registered user.

The "manager" of the CA Teacher's Association makes $419K per year and his top lieutenants make between $200K and $353K (see link to form 990). They spend more on lobbying than any other organization in CA. "CTA has surpassed last session’s two biggest spenders: the Western States Petroleum Association, and Chevron." (see attached link).

CTA's annual revenue exceeds $200M. Funded by teachers who deserve way more than CTA's leaders.

How do trustees, the superintendent and cabinet members benefit by denying teachers raises? Conversely, the union has a direct financial benefit by persuading teachers that the union is indispensable.

When facts are on your side you don't need to use pejorative language "pit bull...grandpa...mislead...poisoned." I do agree that people have interjected toxicity. Support our students and our teachers by having fact based, solution oriented conversations. Stop throwing gasoline on the fire.

Web Link
Web Link

a resident of Downtown
on Nov 3, 2021 at 4:52 pm

SUPPORT OUR STUDENTS! is a registered user.

@Bay Area Native: The fire is already out of control. Truth is just merely being honest about the size and scope of it.

Posted by Jeff
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 3, 2021 at 8:08 pm

Jeff is a registered user.

Bay Area Native - You're off topic.

Posted by Truth
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 4, 2021 at 1:18 pm

Truth is a registered user.

Honestly, I'm surprised it took the anti-union trolls this long to inject their political opinions into the conversation. To Bay Area Native, feel free to read my entirely fact-based posts on this topic in the following threads:

Web Link

Web Link

Perhaps I am guilty of being pejorative, but that is the tone that has been set by Julio Hernandez and the rest of the district leadership over the course of several years now. They are dismissive and contemptuous at every opportunity. I will try to resist the urge to sink to their level, but it changes nothing about the facts in this case.

Posted by Candace Cease
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 4, 2021 at 9:54 pm

Candace Cease is a registered user.

Another concern should be how much Livermore is offering teachers to leave PUSD to join its team. In the past, many districts would only offer teachers 7-10 years credit, so leaving PUSD was not an option for most of our teachers. With Livermore giving credit for 17 years and offering medical benefits, the draw is real. All of us know wonderful teachers and administrators who have moved over to Livermore. Livermore pays $1,100 for a Master's degree; PUSD $750.00.

Livermore Education Association Salary Schedule
New hires are placed on the salary schedule from A-1 to F-17 based on the number of semester units above the Bachelor's
Degree and the number of full years of verified teaching, counseling, or relevant nursing experience under a State authorized
K-12 credential.

Posted by Jeff
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 5, 2021 at 10:47 am

Jeff is a registered user.

I keep coming back to the fact that Haglund and his cabinet will get the same raise as teachers (they have written in a "me too clause" for themselves), plus 3.5% every year for three years, plus paid benefits for themselves and their families (a value of ~ $32,000 just for benefits)! Moreover, they took care of themselves before taking care of teachers. And the Board of Trustees approved this. The pool of teaching candidates for Pleasanton will be greatly limited, as many teachers cannot afford to work here. Only teachers who have spouses who provide benefits will apply. The Board needs to be voted out!

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