Board looks at early start and end to Pleasanton school year

Changes could mean shorter breaks, but more often

Pleasanton School Board members seemed to embrace an idea that would start and end the school year earlier, and possibly add extra breaks during the year.

The idea came up in negotiations on school calendars with other districts, including Dublin, Livermore, Sunol Glen and the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program, which provides hands-on career training.

At the School Board meeting Tuesday night, Human Resources Director Mark McCoy outlined two possible new calendars, explaining, "This is certainly not intended to be an exhaustive exploration."

He said local districts work together to keep their calendars as closely matched as possible.

During those discussions, McCoy said, "the question has been raised: 'Are there adjustments to our calendar that would better serve the needs of our kids?'"

An early start calendar would have classes beginning in mid-August and ending in late May or early June. A modified calendar would start classes in late July or early August, also ending in late May or early June. McCoy said the main benefit to either would be that the fall semester would end by winter break, so that students in high school wouldn't have to complete three more weeks of school in January before moving to the spring semester classes.

"Winter break symbolizes the end of the semester," he said, adding that under the current calendar, students "don't get a true respite. You have the specter of more school hanging over your head."

Neither calendar change would add instructional minutes to the year.

McCoy and others exploring the idea took a field trip to Brentwood, where the modified calendar has been in use for years.

While schools using that calendar start and end early, they also get several breaks during the year, generally one in October and in the spring, along with the traditional winter break.

In Brentwood, the additional breaks help those who are falling behind, provide more study time before AP tests, and "an expanded window for curriculum coverage."

McCoy said Brentwood also found fewer employee and student absences.

"When students' capacity is getting exhausted, they get a break," he said. "We found that fewer personal necessity and sick leave breaks were taken."

The are some drawbacks: changes in athletic schedules, making sure parents can arrange for child care, a shorter summer break the year the plan is put into effect and resistance to any shifts in the calendar.

"Certainly change is change," McCoy said. "The real big thing that's holding people back is teachers who live in other districts."

School board members were enthusiastic about the idea, although they wanted hard data that would support a switch.

"I think it's something many of us have been hoping for for a while," Member Joan Laursen said.

Board Member Jamie Hintzke said she was excited, pointing out one concern about the current calendar, where students who go away on vacation leave group projects for those staying at home to complete, although they all share the grade.

Bowser said it's important to communicate any change well in advance.

"If we're going to make a change, let's do it right the first time," he said. In an aside to the Pleasanton Weekly, Bowser said, "Please don't call this year-round. That freaks the public out."

Board Member Chris Grant suggested the district take the lead role in pushing for the plan with other districts, and said the San Ramon Valley district should be included.

The school board approved a contract with CSEA employees that would offer similar gains to the contract approved earlier by the teachers union.

Under the new contract, CSEA members would receive a one-time payment of 1% of their salaries, get a 1.1 % raise and secure their pensions under Calpers, the state retirement system.

The board also heard an overview of changes in testing under the new Common Core State Standards. Under the plan being implemented this year, students would be assessed by computers that would test the limits of the students' knowledge. Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a bill eliminating traditional STAR testing for the year so that districts could begin to incorporate the new tests.

The district plans field tests to see how the new testing would work and to help work out the bugs. Students in third through eighth grade will take the tests, along with 11th graders.

Hearst Elementary School Principal Michael Kuhfal told the board that his school has embraced the new concepts, which encourage less rote knowledge and memorization and more conceptual knowledge and strategic thinking.

"We're all going to be taking it as a staff," Kuhfal said.

He said a recent PTA meeting drew about 40 parents, who were given information on what the tests look like and a website where they could see tests questions for themselves.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 10, 2013 at 8:48 am

Has the PUSD bothered to talk to their customers (parents) about this? Have they reached out to the folks that pay their salaries and asked if this makes sense for them or are they going to stand on their pulpit and tell us what is best for us? Why not go to a year round school schedule? Why not start later in the day and end later? Why follow all the federal holidays in January where the kids have off every Monday? There needs to be more discussion before we do a sea change to the schedule so we can accommodate teenage angst over the holidays. PS if your angel makes it into an ivy league school they will have to study over the winter break - maybe we can lobby congress to change the ivy league school schedules. :)

Posted by Mom O2, a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Oct 10, 2013 at 8:56 am

Change is often harder on some people than others. I have friends with kids on this type of schedule and they love it. Both parents and kids have adapted to it extremely well. Bravo to PUSD for thinking outside the box.

Posted by Use your head, a resident of Nolan Farms
on Oct 10, 2013 at 9:14 am

Somebody, please remind the board of unintended consequences.
If you start earlier and end the same you have more bills/costs.
Parents who work need to find more random day care vs the 2.5 months in summer.
Just because school has an off day or days (like nearly 1/2 of November), doesn't mean Mom & Dad have time off from work.
If a child cannot have a good time over the holiday break in December and January, the parents need to look at what pressures they are putting on their children. The school board does not need to change for everyone, due to a few out of control parents.
Board members, you do not live in a vacuum. Please step back and look at the larger picture

Posted by taxpayer, a resident of Downtown
on Oct 10, 2013 at 10:44 am

Year round school is the way to go. Kids do nothing but get into trouble when they are inactive for an entire summer. Some parents think it is OK to take the kids out of school for their own personal vacations. Fine, unless the kid has a note from a doctor about illness, the parent needs to pay the ADA amount that is lost for every day out of school. I am tired of paying for year round buildings, year round salaries for part time teachers, and then losing state money when some parents think they are so very special. Public education is not your opportunity to stick it to me for more taxes.

Posted by Screwed, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 10, 2013 at 10:46 am

We plan our family summer vacations a year ahead so any change will greatly affect our plans, not to mention the thousands of dollars we will lose as a result. I will be going after PUSD for any loss I sustain as a result of their needless change.

Posted by Why be different, a resident of Mohr Park
on Oct 10, 2013 at 12:35 pm

My problem is that being in sync with other areas (rest of state or country) gives my kids more opportunities outside of the school year. We like to take Summer vacations with relatives from out of state. In the Summer, our kids participate in camps and activities that are not always local. Also, our kids are in competitive sports which compete with teams in the state and country. If you enjoy having flexibility in scheduling Summer activities for your kids, we need to be in sync with the rest of the state and country.

Posted by kati, a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm

The modified schedule would certainly benefit the students. Shorter breaks mean less repetition when school begins. Friends with students in the Brentwood district love their schedule. Again there are parents who are more concerned about their vacation plans rather than their children's education.

Posted by Jan, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm

We moved from Discovery Bay a few years ago and really miss the modified year round. We started late July early August and after 9/10 weeks a two week break. That was also the end of the grading period so no work/projects were assigned. After the Oct break kids would go to school until the Winter 2 week break. Again the grading period was over, so a true break. Spring would have a 2 week break at the end of March which again aligned with the end of a grading period. School year ended 1st week of June so there was always a 6 week Summer. Just long enough for fun and vacations, but not so long to let boredom set in. We would love to see it happen here.

Posted by taxpayer, a resident of Downtown
on Oct 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm

for screwed in birdland -- "I will be going after PUSD for any loss I sustain as a result of their needless change"
Knock yourself out. There is a slimy lawyer under every rock who will take on your lawsuit. You are clearly more concerned with your status vacations than with the education of your kids. Oh, about losing "thousands of dollars" -- purchase trip cancellation insurance.

Posted by Screwed, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 10, 2013 at 3:15 pm

@ taxpayer: trip insurance does not cover losses due to changing of school schedule. Our $ losses are real so you betcha we will be going after them for losses that are directly contributed by their change in scheduling without at least a year of notice.

Not that it is any of your business but my kids are doing just fine, socially and academically, with the current schedule. And the time we spend during our yearly family vacation are priceless so yes we are indeed VERY concerned with any changes to those plans.

PUSD should look at giving the community enough time (like 12+ months) to plan for these significant changes.

Posted by None of the Above, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2013 at 3:20 pm


From the story:

Bowser said it's important to communicate any change well in advance.

"If we're going to make a change, let's do it right the first time," he said.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 10, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Will there be community meetings for parent feedback PRIOR to the board making a decision for change?

The earlier August start with finals before winter break is helpful to students. Any schedules with multiple breaks raises issues for working single head of household or dual working families when it comes to child care.

Posted by Brit Chick, a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 11, 2013 at 8:42 am

We moved here from the UK where summer break is 6 weeks mid July to end August with additional breaks of 1-2 weeks through the year with a total 14 weeks. We have adapted well to the US system, but the kids get really tired/stressed being in school for longer periods. Childcare is a worldwide issue and it will never be perfect. We need to put the kids education and welfare first to create a productive, happy future society.

Posted by No change, a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 11, 2013 at 8:46 am

For over 70 years, children have had summer vacation. If you look at the SAT scores going back for years - children did fine. Students have done extremely well getting into colleges.

If any change is to be made - it should be with all of the school districts in the Tri Valley.

Let the children have a break. The community has many programs that let children try something new that is not in the programs of the school.

Summer school is a great advantage to children that have not reached their potential and probably this program would be taken away.

Posted by Karen, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 11, 2013 at 8:57 am

I posted this on another thread, but thought I'd post here too...

I work in San Jose Unified and we recently changed our school calendar. It seems to be very effective and I believe it also works well for parents.

We normally start school the second week in August and end either the last week in May or the first week in June. Our district has figured out that it is in the best interest of students/teachers/families to end the semester before Christmas break. That way families can enjoy the holiday season without their students needing to finish assignments/projects/etc. It's also nice to wrap up the semester and "start fresh" in the new year.

Our students also get a few breaks that Pleasanton students do not have at this point. Just a couple years ago, we started having a "Fall Break" and students take the first week of October off. Families and students really seem to appreciate this break because the weather is still nice enough to take a vacation somewhere. In February, there is another break for President's week. Historically, most districts have a problem with attendance this particular week in February because many professionals get some days off due to the holiday, and families go on vacation. We have found that by giving this break, our ADA isn't affected. Spring break is consistent and predictable and has absolutely nothing to do with when Easter is. Every year, our district does Spring Break the second week in April. Never changes.

Finally, the other thing San Jose Unified does, that Pleasanton should note, is that all our professional development days/staff development days, are before the student school year begins. Teachers/Staff report back to school 4 days before students. I think parents in PUSD would appreciate this because instead of having to find childcare for random Fridays/Mondays, the Staff Development days/Professional Development days just happen before the student school year begins.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Downtown
on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:37 am

@ Screwed. I was talking to a person who viewed the Board meeting and Grant made it clear this could not be rushed next year due to families that have already made plans for next Summer. Sounds like he was thinking of you. It only makes sense something this new would take time. Sounded like to the viewer that 2015/16 would be the earliest this could happen and that the Board and Sup were committed to talking to the surrounding districts to get the whole Tri Valley on board.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Oak Hill
on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:49 am

Changing a school calendar may seem like a simple decision to some but it's very complex. It's not just about vacations but it is about the well balanced child. Research can show the rate of summer learning loss but research can also show that children who participate in stimulating out of school time activities may actually go back into the classroom with more energy and more 21st century skills and therefore, be more successful. Experiences in the outdoors rather than a classroom has been particularly effective. School does not teach many of the non-academic skills required for our students to succeed as many of the discussions about common core standards have stated. If you are interested, there are many coalitions across the country who are dealing with these issues. Coalition for a Traditional School Year is the main one with connections to the Save Our Summers campaign in many states. Going back to school before mid August has not worked well in many areas and for many reasons. Some states have actually passed legislation to prevent local school districts from changing their schedules too radically by establishing not before starting dates and not after ending dates. I would hope the PUSD board would carefully weigh the needs of a well balanced child and seek creative solutions before jumping into a decision.

Posted by Guest, a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2013 at 9:47 am

I teach at a school that is on a more traditional schedule but nothing like PUSD or the modified year-round one. We start a few weeks before PUSD does, we don't have random days off here and there except for the federal holidays, thanksgiving, christmas etc. We go the same amount of time as PUSD but first week of June is the last week of school.

The modified year-round schedule has pros and cons, like any type of planned out school year. Their utility bills will more than likely go up, seeing that kids would be attending school when it's hot weather. However, when the break period comes up, it is great to know that it's the end of the grading period (which my school does; when Xmas break gets here, it's the end of our 1st semester and finales are held before the break begins.)

One thing that the board should consider is the whole childcare issue. Camps may choose not to hold camp in Pleasanton anymore because of how short the time would be. These child care companies would/can take their business where a town has a traditional school year....leaving our town without many choices.

Hopefully they'll do the right thing and no vote or implement this right away and do some research and get some much needed feedback from the people who this would affect the most- the parents.

Posted by pat, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 13, 2013 at 10:20 am

Summer school was created so that children could help in the fields,I don't see that happening.It is proven that 2.5 months idle is not optimum for learning.It should be about education,and unfortunatly both parents having to work,not vacation or extracirricular events.We need to prioritize our needs.

Posted by None of the Above, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2013 at 6:04 pm

@No change,

Actually, the SAT's were dumbed down twice in the last 25 years or so...

Posted by Jen A., a resident of Willow West
on Oct 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I understand the MANY concerns from parents about needing childcare for a big change like this. I understand the "issue" of vacationing during summer. I get it. I also think it's a lousy excuse for not being more open to other ideas. What if this change is truly in the best interest of the child? As parents we, want the best for them. If this is truly in the best interest of the child, we will make it work. It's rediculous to say "I'm going after the district for lost vacation money." I mean really?!?!

I wish we could have year round school. I would prefer that over this but I feel this would benefit the children much more than our current schedule. They need more breaks inbetween and not that long of a summer. Actually, if you really think about it... It's best for vacations! Off peek time/less crowds/less expensive...

Posted by Teacher, a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Ask any child what is in their best interest and they will say "keep summer!" Also, students should not be studying/planning projects over winter break. Finals should conclude before break begins. Trimesters and different scheduling in the schools should be considered appropriate.
Also, teachers are not part time and do not get paid for the summer months. We are paid 10 months. I speak for
Many, most educators need the summer break to rejuvenate and professionally develop and prepare for the new year. Also, we enjoy having the time to be with families during this nice extended period of time. It would
Be a shame to rid us of summer break. Ask any teacher or student how they feel and how productive learning is when it is 90+ Degrees outside consecutive weeks and the honest answer, is many are not retaining much less learning new content. They are dreaming of being at the beach!
Our summers!!!

Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 9, 2014 at 10:59 am

Our teachers make up to $100K which is pretty good considering they get the summer off, winter break, spring break, and all the other holidays. The teachers work 185 days which means they get 15 weeks of vacation/holidays per year. They can also work at summer school and get additional income if they desire.

I think every profession would like to be able to take the summer off to rejuvenate. It is not the real world. And why do administrators need all that time off?

You also said 'Ask any child what is in their best interest and they will say "keep summer!"' I think if you asked the child what they want they will say "no school." Of course every child wants longer holidays. Instead we should be having longer school years, like the rest of the work, as we will be competing against the rest of the world in the workforce.

Possibly 100 years ago the students could not learn in the 90 degree heat. At that time the legislature only worked part time because it was too hot. Then we got this great new invention; air conditioning. No excuse any more.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm

The decision will be based in what the teachers want. "Teachers come first".

Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm

"Our teachers make up to $100K which is pretty good considering they get the summer off..."

I don't see the relevance of that to "better serving the needs of our kids," which is what this proposal seems to be about. I think the idea of longer school years has merit, but not because I think teachers are overpaid.

Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 9, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Did not mean to say that teachers were overpaid. I am just saying that they receive a salary comparable to somebody working the whole year, in reply to the teacher that posted.

Posted by Haha, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Just love that there are so many that think teachers just work when the kids are in school! hahaha...

Also just love that so many people think they know so much about the teaching profession, because they went to school! hahahah...

yeah, and Im writing this from under my desk, where the kids think I sleep. #skewedpersceptionsrule

Posted by Teacher , a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2014 at 9:56 pm

In response , thank you haha, and "local" I would like to clarify a few things..... First of all, I (nor any teacher) makes nearly as much you think teachers make. I am always on the clock, and work well beyond my contracted work hours. Countless hours are spent before and after school preparing for lessons, communicating with parents, participating in meetings for the professional development of teaching. All of my report cards and assessments are spent days at a time, without compensation, and much of my work is brought home, with no such thing as overtime. Most of my training that I participate in over the summer, comes from my own bank account. I have spent over 13,000 on my masters degree and I get a stipend of 500 a year. You say I have options to teach summer school...... Actually I do not because of budget cuts, we don't offer these classes for students any longer. I have 30+ students and teach every single subject with students who have special needs with limited support. So, I need to constantly research and train to meet all the needs of my students. Our schools are understaffed due to budget cuts so, you can find me cleaning the sinks, vacuuming, nursing sick children. We are also not always respected and this breaks my heart. Your comments are wounding for the many who put their hearts and soul into their calling. I will be honest, the summer break and holidays were appealing to me, as I knew this would give me time to be with my family and give me the much needed breathing time. It is not an easy job. We make lifetime impressions. I encourage you to spend an entire day in a classroom and then base your opinions thoughtfully. I say, "save out summers,". Save the sanity! Btw..... I have taught many years without air conditioning. So that is a wash too.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2014 at 7:25 am

There are a lot of rumors being thrown around in this thread. The new calendar wouldn't start until 2015-2016, not 2014-2015 so your vacations wouldn't be in jeopardy unless you plan 2 years in advance. The district is going to have informational meetings for parents/teachers/community members sometime this spring where anyone can give input on the new schedule. IF you think this is such a terrible idea, go to a meeting and voice your opinion, don't just sit behind your computer threatening to sue the district because you can't go to Hawaii anymore for your vacation.

The teacher bashing comments are just ridiculous. Get over it people. You clearly know absolutely nothing about what teachers really do, what they really make in this district ($100,000??? How many teachers in this district actually make that much?? I'm betting it is a VERY small number). There are so many people in this community that are so disrespectful to the teachers it is disgusting. The change in the school schedule is NOT about what will make the teachers happy, it is about doing what is best for student success. In fact, the change in the schedule would make many teacher's lives harder if their kid's district isn't' also switching calendars. Sitting here and blaming the teachers for everything is old news.

Posted by PT Teacher, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Feb 12, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Teachers are contracted employees. They are contracted to work a specific number of days per year. In PUSD, that number is 185. Personally, I know of NO teacher that works less than 10 hrs/day, often including weekends, nights, and holidays (including summer). These are NOT paid days off. The 185 day calendar does not include holidays or weekends. Even if we capped it at 10 hrs/day x 185 days, that would be 1,850 "man hours" per teacher. The average number of "man hours" worked per year in the US is 1,790 (latest data available from 2012).

Blame teachers and their unions for what you like, but we need to stop talk
of all the paid time off school employees get - it simply doesn't work that way. Out of all the teachers I have met, I've not met a single one that chose their profession because of high pay or vacation time.

Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2014 at 12:29 am

Please look at the following certificated (teachers) salary schedule:

Web Link

As you can see, the top salary, if you have worked 20 years or more, is 99,000. So no teacher in Pleasanton gets paid 100,000, despite what the above posts have stated (unless you have a masters AND a doctorate, which pay a whopping 500 dollars extra, each, a year, bringing the total to exactly 100,000 - and very few have both). Take off medical, which over 40% of teachers have to take, that comes out of our salary, and it is very expensive. Plus the normal taxes and such we all pay, and it brings the total to well below 100,000.

So please stop with the "make up to 100K" garbage. A few come somewhat close, but none of us make that much.

Oh, and I will be in my classroom working at some point this weekend, as I do many weekends each year.

Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 13, 2014 at 8:33 am

"Get the Facts", you are wrong. If you go to the May Area News Group Government Salary Database you will see in 2012 (before the last raise of the top end of the salary schedule) there were 280 teachers in our school district making between $100,000 and $139,000 in 2012.

Also, the last survey done by the district showed that very few teachers took out medical insurance since they have a spouse that already has medical (the teachers voted some time ago to have larger salaries instead of medical insurance which most did not need because their spouse already had the insurance).

You are wrong on the masters and doctorate. Those are $750 each but combined so if you have a doctorate you get $750 + $750 (not that many teachers have that but wanted to explain that you did not have the correct facts.

And deducting taxes, in your argument, is irrelevant. We all have taxes taken out and is never used in calculating salaries and benefits.

As previously stated, not saying that teachers are overpaid. Just correcting the teacher who says she only gets paid for 10 months and this was a hardship.

Posted by Hmmmmm, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 13, 2014 at 10:20 am

Local comes to the plate, digs in..... Here is the pitch. Big swing and connects......back back back and it out of here and long gone!!!! Home run!!!!!

Don't you just hate facts?

Posted by Just saying, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 13, 2014 at 10:59 am

I went to that website and I saw one high school English teacher who made over 100k, the others making that much were principals, vp's, other district employees but not teachers. Every other teacher had a base pay under 100k. The total cost of employment was over 100k in some because they were contributing to their pension plans with some employer contribution and possibly some other expenses that were not clear but that is not money the teachers are salaried with and should not be included. I don't know where you are getting 280 teachers, if you are including pension plans than that is just ridiculous.

Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 13, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I can only speak from experience, and this is admittedly a small sample size, but the teachers who have been in the classrooms with my children are worth every bit of 100k, and they should not have to apologize for that!

Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Actually, "Hmmmmm", I'd say "local" hit a double, not a home run.

First off, I never said ALL teachers take medical, I said over 40% take them. That number was correct a few years ago, and I think that number has dipped a bit, so let's just say over a third of the teachers take the medical.

Next, "Just Saying" had it right with the salaries, they are all administrators. Look at the web link I sent you, and you'll see it's virtually impossible for a teacher to make over 100K. Feel free to send me another link if you have information to the contrary.

I did give the wrong stipend for masters and doctorate degrees, because before the 2013/14 school year it was only 500. It just got raised to 750, and I have neither, so I simply forgot about the increase. But few teachers have doctorates, and very few have both.

One other way I failed to mention to make over 100,000 is if a teacher does not have a prep period (works all seven periods at a middle school or all six at a high school) and therefore works greater than 100%. Not a big number on this, but there are a few teachers each year who do this.

And "local", deducting taxes is not irrelevant. It's annoying, a necessary evil, something none of us like, and we can call it a draw because we all pay them. But it's not irrelevant in the context of this conversation, about making over 100,000. It makes it virtually impossible to make over 100K, even if you work all sections (no prep) and get the masters/doctorate pop.

So I don't "hate facts", but I am happy to correct them when I misstate them.

Posted by James C;, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Feb 13, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Get the Facts,

With all due respect, here is your issue and why when you put things out there you check your facts first and not after the fact.

You first statement of facts above was full of half truths and some facts but you presented it as all fact. Then when confronted with the real facts you come back and say that some of what you wrote was correct, some was somewhat correct, and another portion was downright wrong. When you do this type of thing you truly lose all credibility and hence forth you will be questioned and fact checked because like it or not you misrepresented the truth and that is just plan wrong. Please try to learn and move forward.

Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2014 at 6:52 pm

James, what did I say that was "downright wrong"?

It is not possible, to my knowledge, to make over 100K as a teacher in Pleasanton. That's what my point was, so let's stick to that. If I am wrong, if that is a "half truth", then show me how I am mistaken.

Posted by Facts, etc, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2014 at 8:38 pm

I'm guessing it's possible for a long-term teacher to top $100k if she or he teaches summer school or serves as an administrator for summer school.

Why is $100,000 a year such a bad thing? The average salary in the Bay Area is something like $72,000 a year, and teachers are among the best educated.

The teachers I know actually do spend nights and weekends working.

But... what has this got to do with the notion of year-round school?

Posted by 110 2 Teach, a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I say pay every teacher 110k and take away tenure. Small raises only to keep pace with inflation. Let the free market determine who wants to be a teacher, who gets selected to be a teacher, and of biggest importance, who gets to keep being a teacher. If being a teacher was seen as high status and high pay as it is in other countries, I'd think we'd hear a lot less from teachers moaning and groaning. We'd hear as much as we hear from them as, I don't know, engineers? Can't remember the last time I read a blog about engineers having to work on weekends sometimes and not being valued. Perhaps the generations of low status and low pay that went with teaching (wrongfully so I think) has led to this martyrdom complex. "Yes, I do make this much, but I really deserve more, I work so hard, but you know, I don't do this for the money, I do it for the kids". Yes, teachers do put in more hours than the school day. That is what prep is for, why there is 3-5 PM each day, and yes some time over vacation to prep and train for the next year.

Posted by Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"Let the free market determine who wants to be a teacher, who gets selected to be a teacher, and of biggest importance, who gets to keep being a teacher."

The problem is, this is not the free market. In the free market, there is encouraged competition, to try to make sales goals (as an example) and such. In schools, we are entrusted to work together for the common goal of helping each and every child learn, and it takes a village. Competition would discourage one teacher from helping another teacher, especially if we are talking about merit pay (which I realize isn't the point of the above post, but please allow my digression).

"If being a teacher was seen as high status and high pay as it is in other countries . . ."

But it's not.

". . . I'd think we'd hear a lot less from teachers moaning and groaning."

I don't hear teachers moaning and groaning. I just see them working hard, and fighting for our hard won rights.

"Yes, I do make this much, but I really deserve more, I work so hard, but you know, I don't do this for the money, I do it for the kids."

I have never heard a teacher say this. Like anyone else, we'd love to make more money, but I've never heard a teacher complain about their pay.

Posted by Resident taxpayer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 9:18 pm

First, I'd say tenure has to GO, period!!! Tenure gone for good must be agreed to before moving on with this discussion. Then IF it's gone, I'd want everybody to understand the costs will escalate immediately, IF we spread out the year, Suddenly teachers won't be pleased to cut into their extensive world travel schedule. Which may be a back-door to get this plan implemented. They will suddenly say, oh we have to be paid more now.
There simply cannot be a penny more until tenure has been tossed. We cannot allow bad or unfit teachers to get a free ride into their retirement. A mere TWO years is an unfit 'probationary' or trial run. IF it isn't going to be change statewide, then we have no choice in force it here with any other changes. Are there any 'spines' on the board. Can't allow that phony 'parents' group decide, since they are ignorant 'patsies' of the teachers union.

Posted by Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

The board cannot simply vote out tenure, that's not how it works. It resides at the state level (with numerous lawsuits against it currently or in the past), and I'd love to explain it to you, but I don't understand it completely myself.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 20, 2014 at 6:14 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Get the Facts, You said: "Competition would discourage one teacher from helping another teacher, especially if we are talking about merit pay (which I realize isn't the point of the above post, but please allow my digression)." This shouldn't be the case. Not everyone who works for a district is protected by tenure, yet the work on behalf of the community's children remains the goal. And the corporate side, while competitive, only succeeds if everyone is working toward their shared goals. I guess I would like to hear more from teachers about how to create change (easier, faster, cheaper ways to remove bad tenured teachers for example) rather than hear why tenure must remain and merit pay won't work. I, for one, would like to see merit pay even if tenure remains. Great teachers, and they do exist, should be rewarded.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Feb 20, 2014 at 11:59 am

Merit pay will never work unless everybody who is a teacher receives it. Other wise UNIONS! will step in see that justice is served!

Custodians and office workers also don't receive merit pay.

I've heard that principals recieved bonus pay? Is that true?

If so what is bonus pay based upon?

can we all get along...

Posted by Get educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Kathleen, we had this discussion about merit pay in another thread recently- this is my repost on this idea:

The private sector is based on competition- works well with a merit system. Education is based on cooperation/collaboration- teachers working together. We even have mandatory collaboration time weekly. Bring in a merit system and that changes- best practices not shared, classrooms pitted against each other. Student placement would even be put into question- GATE students vs special needs students. When a teacher's pay is determined by some arbitrary set of new standards that measure their merit-you are in essence asking them to compete against their colleagues to reach that goal. Research shows merit pay has little affect- Web Link

Parents already want classrooms in a grade level to be similar- often asked-"why isnt my child's class doing what the other classes are doing" If I were wanting to be paid on my merit, why would I share what Im doing in my classroom with others? The merit based motivation of my classroom would become to show the best results according to how you would measure (test scores?) making my end game only about performance on a test.

Be careful what you wish for. As a professional, of course I would love to paid my worth. As an educator, I would rather have what is best for educating kids. This ideology is not something I see in the private sector (competition based) , so I can understand how those outside of education would question it, they can't relate.

Posted by Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Kathleen, you state "This shouldn't be the case" in reference to my comment about teachers helping each other. You are right, it shouldn't be the case, but it would be, maybe not always, but all too often. This competition is just one many problems that would occur with the onset of merit pay:
-Attached to testing? Not all teachers have kids that are tested (K-2, specialists, etc.). Classified would be left out.
-If not testing, then who picks who gets merit pay?
-Problems listed above by Cholo and Polo.
-Who decides what portions/percentage of salaries are for standard pay and what are for merit pay?

I do agree with you that tenure reform should happen in some way, and many - if not most - teachers would agree. We don't like bad teachers either. But tenure is simply due process. I have spoken many times with an ex-administrator who says that teachers can be gotten rid of, but the administrator(s) need to do the work of the due process, and most do not do the work. This person has said that he/she has done the work when they were an administrator, and has gotten rid of teachers. But most do not put in the work. So let's stop blaming tenure (though we can agree it has flaws), and ask our administrators to do the work.

Posted by Resident taxpayer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Quick, send in the white coats and straight jackets. Pololo's retribution tactics are sick and twisted. Actually, they were standard procedures by the old mafia thugs (unions) in old Chicago.
I think his 'threats' to teachers who dare to want merit pay are dangerous, should be noted, and disallowed.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 20, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Get the Facts, First, I appreciate the conversation. You say: "You are right, it shouldn't be the case, but it would be, maybe not always, but all too often." But why? There just is not reason, IMO, for that kind of attitude. I don't think anyone who talks about merit pay believes testing is the only measure available, and maybe it isn't a measure to be used at all. My dismay, again, is all I am reading is the reasons it can't work.

Yes, I've heard the lament about administrators who don't follow through. I also know of a case that took two years and something like $100,000 by an administrator who was relentless. And that was a very long time ago. What would it cost now; there is no institutional will for the expense, and likely no taxpayer will either given there are other solutions.

I've also heard from teachers that anyone can fake it for two years to get tenure, so why not set the bar much higher as a first step--like tenure is granted first day of the sixth year? The supposed burn out rate is the five year mark. You'd cut out a lot of chaff without the cost or drama.

Posted by Spare us, please, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Kathleen Rugsinugger assumes teachers have the same values as she does. They don't.

Most teachers desire tenure; Rugsinugger has problems with this.

Most teachers are not concerned about merit pay; Rugsinugger is, and lies when she tells us that teachers share her concerns.

Most teachers are happy with their unions; Rugsinugger is an obsessive anti-unionist.

A former secretary, Rugsinugger knows nothing about being in the classroom. Moreover, her quote about corporations shows she knows virtually nothing about corporations. She says, "And the corporate side, while competitive, only succeeds if everyone is working toward their shared goals." That is not true, as anyone who works within a corporation can tell you. Jack Welch's, for example, routinely fired any GE work teams that did not earn either 1st or 2nd place in their efforts to secure a market share. This effectively put teams working against one another; this is a fairly common model deployed across a wide range of corporations.

The best example of a systematic effort to abolish unions and tenure was put forth by Rugsinugger's hero, Michelle Rhee. Teachers in Rhee's competitive, non-union, non-tenured schools were caught cheating in order to raise the test scores of their students. The cheating not only harmed all the cheaters' colleagues/competitors, but also the parents of children who were given untrue estimates of their children's aptitude and progress.

Those who have an irrational hatred of unions care not a whit about the harm done to teachers and school kids (as exemplified by Rhee's tactics/motives and others). It's the vendetta that must be waged, however irrational, however founded upon a conscientious turning away from unwelcome facts.

Ignorant of teaching and what attracts teachers to the discipline; ignorant of the workings of the corporate world; an irrational hatred of teachers' unions. Combined, a rather toxic cocktail indeed.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 20, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Yes, I am not a fan of unions and tenure in general. But I think there are other reasonable ways to address concerns that do not end either practice. Despite your lengthy assertions, I have great respect for teachers. And I worked for many years in the private sector, oddly enough, including GE. Jack Welch did what he was hired to do, get results for shareholders. As of June 2011, CalSTRS invested their largest equity holdings In:

Exxon Mobil ($1.2 billion)

Apple ($987 million)

Chevron ($659.7 million)

IBM ($656.7 million)

Microsoft ($597.2 million)

Johnson + Johnson ($594.3 million)

AT&T ($592.2 million)

General Electric ($583.2 million)

Proctor & Gamble ($521.5 million)

JP Morgan Chase ($512.5 million)

Posted by Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"Jack Welch did what he was hired to do, get results for shareholders."

But Kathleen, schools don't have shareholders. Schools have to be looked at differently, could you imagine Jack Welch running a school district? Would he fire entire school staffs for underperforming test scores?

Schools cannot be looked at as the same as the corporate world. Corporations are beholden to financial profits, nothing else.

Schools, on the other hand, must work to help each and every child get the best of their potential, no matter what that potential ceiling may be. Our profits are the successes of children, and merit pay can only cause problems such as divisiveness and the cheating that "Spare us" mentions above.

One definition of the word "union" is "A number of persons joined together or associated together for some common purpose." The common purpose of a corporation is to make money, and hopefully lots and lots of it, and you might get run over if you are not helping the bottom line.

The common purpose of a school is help each and every child, and there is no monetary goal.

Corporations value money over humans. Schools are designed to do the opposite. Completely different goals.

Posted by Spare us, please, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2014 at 10:42 pm

So, there we have it. Kathleen Rugsinuckle's list of investments means absolutely nothing, although her twisted reasoning suggests there's some sort of magical connection between Calstrs investments and what teachers do (and value) in the course of teaching our children. Her confusion on these matters is immense. Happily for all of us she was never an educator. In all her years sitting in a secretary's office, she never quite got the reality of teachers and how they teach. Zealots, obsessed with their vendettas, often fall into similar confusions; it's difficult to learn (and change one's thinking) when one is singularly obsessed with fitting a teaching model into peg corporate peg.

Gee, I wonder.... Because I've invested in GE does that mean I'd want to raise my family according to Jack Welch's organizational values and practices?

Well, Rugsinuckle is telling us that public school teachers should want to emulate the corporations Calstrs invests in. Because, see, they have invested in Welch's company! Well, on Welch's model, for every three teachers who are teaching third graders, the teacher at the end of the year who is evaluated below the other two is fired. Nice Kath!

Can't make this stuff up. Daffy or what? The secretary's take on things!

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 21, 2014 at 6:24 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Get the Facts, Of course schools have shareholders--often called stakeholders instead--its taxpayers, parents, and students. And schools are a business, albeit a government business. Having a non-educator run a district has been tried (LA I think). I don't know that it made a big difference in outcomes. I already said, while test scores are a measure of student success and an indicator of weaknesses in the curriculum or learning environment, they aren't the only measure, and they aren't the only/best measure of a good educator.

Districts and unions do have monetary goals--salaries, benefits, parcel taxes, bonds, bake sales, etc. If it is so altruistic, then why are vouchers shunned? The shareholders have few choices--they have to buy the stock and they have to take their most precious commodity, their children, to the designated school. And if they choose to take a child to a private school, they get to pay twice.

Corporations and government entities both have bottom lines to address and neither are doing it without humans. Both need happy, fairly compensated employees and both need satisfied customers.

To Sup, You brought up GE and Jack Welch. My only reference is there is a benefit to shareholders of corporations. CalSTRS receives/received that benefit. And teachers do have a say in where their money is invested if they collectively choose to voice a concern--as they and others have about other CalSTRS investments.

Posted by Nurse Shark, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Feb 21, 2014 at 6:38 am

You guys are wasting your time. Staceleen is immune to rational arguments. You can point out all the reasons in the world that schools should not be viewed as businesses, but she will be covering her ears and shouting "I can't hear you!" the whole time. In fact, you've already made some very well reasoned and convincing point, but what was her reply? "But schools are corporations!"

Just because she can string a better sentence together, it's easy to think that she is more rational than Cholo, but it's just a higher level of cognitive dysfunction. Don't be fooled--irrational people can not, by definition, be reasoned with.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 21, 2014 at 7:22 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Nurse, I explained in broad strokes how government entities and corporations are similar and dissimilar.

It is improbable that anyone was ever going to say to Jack Welch, "I am dissatisfied with your widget, your employee's service, and your underperforming stock, but I'm going to pay for it anyway, not complain about said service, keep the lousy stock, and I will go elsewhere and pay again until I find what I need."

Posted by Please spare us, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2014 at 7:29 am

Nurse Shark, Kath Rugsinuckle has just validated your claim. Teachers and Jack Welch, engaged in similar activities. Because schools are like corporations. Gads, the myopia. Usually it takes days of going back and forth before all this comes out.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 21, 2014 at 8:43 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Corps to gov. Nice try.

Posted by Spare us, please, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2014 at 10:22 am

Rugsinuckle's most recent post strikes me as exhibiting a kind of private language, a private meaning -- perhaps a joke between herself and herself. This is consistent with most of her other posts.

Posted by Student, a resident of Ironwood
on Apr 29, 2014 at 8:31 pm

I am a freshman student at Amador Valley doing a research project on this particular subject. If school started 3 weeks earlier, the day before winter break would be the last day of the semester. With this, I wouldn't have to worry about finals or big projects, and I could have a fresh start after Winter Break. The district should consider this idea because many other students and I would agree that this would help!

Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Student, there is another long thread, a bit more recent, about this. Look up "S.O.S. PLEASANTON SCHOOL CALENDAR CHANGE". I would ask that you post your comment on that thread (it is currently on the second page of Town Square).

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

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