Amid negotiations with the two collective bargaining groups in the Pleasanton Unified School District – and fierce criticism from some union members – the board of directors unanimously approved pay increases for the district administrative office on Thursday .
Five members of the district cabinet, including Superintendent David Haglund, received new employment contracts with PUSD. The contracts provide for a 3.5% wage increase and fully covered health, vision and dental benefits for the employee as well as their spouse and dependents.
But the pay increases haven’t gone well with many members of the California School Employees Association, which represents the district’s classified employees, including receptionists, guards, para-educators and cafeteria workers. In public comments at Thursday’s regular board meeting, Amador Valley High site registrar Linda Pipe said she was “disgusted by the fallacious nature of leadership and decision-making. of the PUSD “.
“As a board of directors, you have a responsibility to make sure all employees are treated fairly, but when the CSEA calls for our benefits to even remotely track core inflation, we are told it doesn’t matter. is not, and I quote, “in the best interests of the district,” Pipe said, adding that the allowances paid to graded workers “don’t even cover the cost of the lowest Kaiser plan for employees only.”
In addition to extending his tenure for an additional year, creating a new four-year agreement, Haglund’s base salary is set at $ 317,148. The agreement – which takes effect July 1 and expires June 30, 2025 – “also provides longevity benefits at the start of the 5th and 7th year of service” and keeps all existing contractual provisions “in full force.”
The contracts of Deputy Superintendents Janelle Woodward, Julio Hernandez, Ed Diolazo and Ahmad Sheikholeslami also have similar dates, terms and conditions, but have extended their terms for a three-year agreement, instead of four, and will each receive a salary. base of $ 222,252. The 3.5% compensation increase for the five cabinet members will remove approximately $ 54,143 from the general district fund.
Ahead of a district staff compensation analysis also presented on Thursday, CSEA President Derek Psaros said: “I want administrators to ask in-depth questions about compensation – who gets it, how it gets it. , how it compares to our neighbors and whether the data presented is apples to apples. Moreover, what compensation inside and outside of wages could cure this bad morale. “
Board chair Joan Laursen later admitted that the PUSD is “not the lowest paid district in the county, but we have room for improvement and we will do our best with the money. that we receive “.
“It’s been a conversation at the board level and with the staff talking about what we’re going to do about it, looking at our compensation structures and trying to start delivering benefits and doing move that forward, ”Laursen added.
But Laursen defended employment contracts with trustees towards the end of the meeting and said the district added paid medical bills “because that’s what we mean when we think about hiring trustees – that this are things they envision and determine what is right for themselves and their families.
“This is not a secret deal, but the process of looking for ways to make our administrators competitive so that other districts don’t turn them away from us,” she said.
“That means we’ve looked at it at the whole district level, like what we’re trying to do to improve our competitiveness with our other trustees, with CSEA, with APT,” Laursen said, adding that the board ” was looking for competitiveness for the whole organization. “
Of the 15 school districts in Alameda and Contra Costa counties used as comparison groups in the staff compensation presentation, the New Haven Unified School District in Union City was ranked # 1 for teacher salaries. despite the absence of tax on packages.
This fact upset Cheryl Vangundy, a technology specialist in Vintage Hills who contacted The Weekly before the meeting and said that the PUSD “often states that they have less funds than other districts because they have no money. parcel tax “.
Last year, 29 classifications were below the market average, according to the compensation analysis, but Vangundy said those positions accounted for more than a third of classified staff, “nor does that indicate the PUSD has been below the 50th percentile in terms of compensation based on the local labor market rate for some time. A pay study last year left many employees without any pay increases.
The Pleasanton Teachers Association, which represents certified PUSD employees, showed support and solidarity with the CSEA on Thursday. APT President Michelle VerKuillen told the board that she had “had several puzzling conversations with our educators over the past month” about salaries that did not match the cost of living.
“I’m seeing more and more people in their mid to late career leaving our district because they are overpriced in the Bay Area,” said VerKuillen. “They can’t afford to stay here even at this point in their careers.”
VerKuillen also said the district’s competitiveness had “waned” and warned administrators that new hires who “expressed concern because they did not realize that the district was not contributing to benefits … are unlikely to stay. “because the surrounding districts attract talent by offering benefits or allowances in addition to the posted salaries.
“We need to invest in our programs, and our programs include our educators,” VerKuillen said. “Supporting our students means investing in educators so that they can live and be part of their community. “
The district is expected to resume negotiations with the CSEA next Thursday (July 1) and with the APT on July 8. Officials said they have requested another meeting with the APT in early July to discuss bell times and other concerns they wish to negotiate.
Several new appointments of public employee coordinators were also announced Thursday, three of which are new job descriptions approved last month. Job titles include coordinators of human resources, student services, high school operations, and university extended day and intervention programs. Compensation for positions ranges from $ 133,695 to $ 147,609, with part of the money for these salaries coming from the unallocated general fund.