https://pleasantonweekly.com/square/print/2015/10/29/school-board-ignores-lowest-bid-for-search-firm---ignorance-or-arrogance-


Town Square

School Board Ignores Lowest Bid for Search Firm - Ignorance or Arrogance?

Original post made by Just a School Board Watcher, Amador Estates, on Oct 29, 2015

In reading the article Web Link

Interesting that the school board did not include the low bid of $21k in the selection of the 4 search firm. Instead they selected the two highest bids, 2 from out of state and two from LA. It arrogant of the a school district of 15,000 students to think they can draw a candidate from outside of the Bay Area, with our high housing prices, budget problems, and Troubled Schools, Web Link

They are also ignorant for passing over two local firms that know the local market for superintendents here in the Bay Area. It rare for a superintendent to move from Southern California to the Bay Area let alone from another state. Are they going to give him an interest free loan to move like the did Casey? More public taxpayer dollars down the drain.

Speaking of tax dollars do you find it interesting that they paid the interim superintendent, with no experience, the same as the 5 year veteran who left? Web Link and Web Link

I guess it's raining tax dollars in Pleasanton. Citizens be aware they are going for your wallet with a Parcel Tax next.

Ignorance or Arrogance you decide.

Comments

Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 29, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Yep the 2 parcel taxes failed. PUSD spending like the Feds. I agree with board watcher.


Posted by Parent
a resident of Avignon
on Oct 29, 2015 at 2:23 pm

What's wrong with PUSD? Everyone is leaving the district. Is there something I don't know?


Posted by Hope they don't choose who they picked last time.
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 29, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Why would they pick the last company from Illinois Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, Ltd. that found Ahmadi after Casey resigned? Web Link

Hopefully whoever they pick will do a better job and find someone qualified rather than someone from 8 miles away. What an awful last choice. Surely they should not be the search firm.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Oct 29, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Out of state firms can and have been very effective. More important is getting an experienced, seated superintendent. Second would be a process that includes community input; perhaps a panel of broad community representation. Strong districts like Pleasanton will have appeal to candidates outside the Bay Area. Palo Alto has a former state superintendent from outside California. Unless it is someone who doesn't need to move, a loan is likely, but it isn't money down the drain. It is money that is repaid, sometimes with interest, at the end of the person's service. There also can be a provision regarding appreciation, although the downside is selling in an off market. Often the key is to not require the finalist to live in the community.


Posted by Anon-e-mouse
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 29, 2015 at 4:30 pm

"Strong districts like Pleasanton will have appeal to candidates outside the Bay Area."

Well, unless they know how to use Google...


Posted by Registered Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2015 at 9:04 pm

I'd say the decision is neither one of ignorance nor arrogance. Those of us in the professional sector tend to get hit from search firms all the time; some are clearly better than others, most are bottom-feeders, resume shufflers.

In the PW, there seem to be two opposing threads; one bitches and moans about the previous superintendent (see the thread regarding the IT fellow that left for a job in Union City) and how bad she was for the district, and this new thread bitches and moans about the search for a new superintendent and the costs thereof.

The new superintendent is either important, and worth the cost of a search, or it isn't, in which case cheaper is better. The board made the right decision.


Posted by Superintendent Watch
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2015 at 10:18 pm

First, I am so grateful that our hometown guy "Jim Hansen", stepped up to fill in as Interim Superintendent. We needed a local hero to mend our battered teachers, parents, administrators and most of all our students. I have observed Mr. Hansen at the high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, at community and public social events. Mr. Hansen always extends an eager handshake, a warm smile, a listening ear usually calling out students, parents, teachers by their names. His presence has a healing touch and IMHO its in his caring character. Something we value in this community of character.
I want to point one thing out, Do you realize that during Ms. Ahmadi administration we had a turn over of every High School Principal, Middle School Principal and 8 of the 9 Elementary Principals. Now we can argue a thousand points but we still are left with only one sitting principal since the beginning of her administration. That's a problem!
PUSD Trustees, please be mindful in this process of selecting our new Superintendent. Do not hurry because she has been gone 4 plus months. Yes that's true but she gave 2 weeks notice and scurried out of town instead of dealing honestly with the hard issues affecting our district. We are aware that most administrators finish a school year and start fresh another new school year.
We need a Superintendent who will work with all parties honestly, openly and fairly. No reactionaries. A professional team builder in education would be a good starting point.


Posted by Tailspin of turnover
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:35 am

I agree with supt watch. Most site principals have turned over multiple times during Ahmadi 's rocky and reckless five years. Many were driven out by an out of control Union. We need a person in place with the ability to stand up to the out of control and manipulative teachers union.


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 30, 2015 at 7:46 am

One person will get steam rolled by a union. We the community need to support that person and their efforts by electing officials that recognize that in order for true educational progress, the union is going to have to significantly change, if not go away altogether. In my opinion, the union does no good, only inhibits and acts as less effective added redundancy to existing state laws.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2015 at 10:26 am

To Parent

I'm not sure why everyone is leaving PUSD, but I spoke with a teacher who is no longer with PUSD and was surprised to learn that teachers don't have employer sponsored health care in PUSD. They get paid more than teachers in surrounding districts, but they need to pay for healthcare out of pocket. This was a good deal for the teachers when it was first implemented. However nowadays, due to healthcare costs outpacing pay increases, any teacher who needs to purchase healthcare for themselves and their family will have a net take home pay far below that of surrounding districts. I presume this makes it very difficult to attract and retain teachers who don't have a spouse with employer sponsored healthcare.

I'm not saying this is the sole cause of the mass exodus, but for those who think PUSD can attract the best teachers in the bay area due to the excellent pay and benefits, think again. There are other districts in the bay area with far better pay and benefits.

And to all those people who didn't support a parcel tax to keep our schools on top, congratulations, PUSD is now a mediocre school district no better than Dublin and Livermore. I just hope you don't complain about why people don't want to pay more for your house than a house in Dublin or Livermore anymore. You could have gotten an extra $100,000 or $200,000 in house value for a lousy $100 or $200/yr.


Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Oct 30, 2015 at 10:41 am

@Brian: "And to all those people who didn't support a parcel tax to keep our schools on top, congratulations, PUSD is now a mediocre school district no better than Dublin and Livermore. I just hope you don't complain about why people don't want to pay more for your house than a house in Dublin or Livermore anymore. You could have gotten an extra $100,000 or $200,000 in house value for a lousy $100 or $200/yr."

That's what we call being "penny-wise and pound foolish".

As for teacher pay, many people seem to be under the impression that the money we pay to teachers is a form of charity given out of the goodness of our hearts. They seem not to realize that we are in competition with surrounding districts to attract the best teachers and if our pay and benefits are not competitive then teachers leave and go elsewhere.


Posted by Old Guy
a resident of Willow West
on Oct 30, 2015 at 10:43 am

Old Guy is a registered user.

Here is a wild idea for you all. Before farming the search task out to a an expensive outside entity, why not take a stab at the process internally. Before Old Guy was old and working in my career I was a hiring manager. I used search firms but only when we were unsuccessful with our internal efforts. The hiring process is not a difficult one and in today's world we are way to quick to off load this responsibility. The in-house effort does not always produce the desired results and that is when you consider an outside search firm. You guys might surprise yourself. After all nobody understands local needs better then local people.


Posted by Fact Check
a resident of Avignon
on Oct 30, 2015 at 4:01 pm

@Hope they don't choose who they picked last time.

"Hopefully whoever they pick will do a better job and find someone qualified rather than someone from 8 miles away. What an awful last choice. Surely they should not be the search firm."

Let's do a fact check. The superintendent is hired by the School BOARD. The search firm take orders from the School BOARD. I'm not sure why you would blame the search firm when 3 of the school board members who selected the last superintendent are still ON the BOARD. You should target your anger at Arkin, Hintzke, and Grant. Still a majority I guess the outcome will be the same.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Oct 30, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"teachers don't have employer sponsored health care in PUSD. They get paid more than teachers in surrounding districts, but they need to pay for healthcare out of pocket"

Brian, this isn't exactly right. First, the amount was initially $10,000 (early 90s maybe?). Every raise given also compounded the increase to that $10,000. Also, most (forgot the percentage, but more than 50% I believe) employees waive the benefits because a spouse provides the benefits through their employer. Last, most districts are horrible at negotiating benefit plans and costs with providers or with negotiating what is offered to employees. Damon, I would agree we need to stay competitive, but there are many ways to do that, but many would not be considered by union leadership. I think there should be trade offs for across the board, non-merit raises.

You can go back and read why the parcel tax was opposed. My guess is even those who voted no are still donating plenty to their school of choice, rather than to the district kitties. And we are not a mediocre district; that Dublin and Livermore continue to improve is good news for the region.


Posted by Ship
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Old Guy...
It would be great to hire in house however as the ship began to sink the usual happened, the rats abandoned first. Not all were rats but they saw the writing on the wall. Really not a whole lot left in house with the exception of our two interims.
Have you anyone in mind?

Fact Check...
How do we credit current board, with exception of Laursen dissenting vote, with the hiring if Interim Hansen.
I believe he was a good choice under the circumstances.


Posted by Registered Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2015 at 6:45 pm

Old Guy, I'm with you, but...

I'm all for treating schools and police departments and public transportation as if they were businesses, but let's face it, a school district is about as far away from a business as you can get. Because of nepotism, cronyism, demagoguery, and the fact that people get paid union scale without regard to effectiveness, methods that work well in business will never be successful in public schools.

Can you imagine what would happen if somebody from within was hired as the superintendent? Jim Hansen would be a great choice, but I'm sure he's made enemies along the way (probably by asking people to do their jobs). Look at what a very few people were able to do with John Vranesh at Walnut Grove, and now imagine that at the district level.

Even if the School Board decided to unite by supporting an internal candidate, which they'll never do, there is still the problem of the union contract, and the relative size of the PUSD vs. the CA teacher union in negotiating the contract.


Posted by Bob from Birdland
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 30, 2015 at 6:51 pm

Ignorance or Arrogance -neither. There is a significant amount of rebuilding that needs to be done relating to education in this community - within the community in general, with teachers and classified employees, with parents, and the within the schools. The issues that face the board and the incoming member of the administration are daunting -inadequate funding, an out-of-date technology infrastructure, existing school site improvements, potential new site developments with the additional home construction, creating a more competitive salary structure (addressing the quality of teachers we can attract, and the quality of administration we can attract),the possibility of re-districting, a parcel tax... Not only will all of this impact the quality of the education our kids receive, it will affect property values, and the quality of life in this city.
Our 2 interim appointments were a good start but immediately accusing the board of negligence is more than a bit harsh. Let's give the board the breathing room to conduct a deliberate and thorough search so we can get the best candidates placed and not nickel and dime the process.
To the original poster, please volunteer as one of the community interviewers if you feel so strongly about the issue.


Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 30, 2015 at 7:25 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Bob from Birdland:

Well stated.


Posted by Taxpayer (orgiinal)
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2015 at 6:23 pm

To taxpayer above, yes I like the name too, like all this last decade I've been using it. For today only I added (original). Flattered you liked it enough to copy. You'll have to be careful though, I might say something you won't like getting blamed for!!


Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2015 at 6:54 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

If you both like the name so much, maybe one of you can register it.