New Deputy Superintendent -- PUSD Spends Prop 30 Money on Administrator Raises Schools & Kids, posted by Unbelievable, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 11:38 am
Well, the ink isn't dry on the election officials certifying the results of Prop 30 passing. Already, in secretive fashion as usual, PUSD is doling out the taxpayers' money on elevated titles like Deputy Superintendent and presumably handing out that money in the form of administrative raises that usually go along with elevated titles.
The Pleasanton Weekly hasn't even reported that the Board had approved even posting a Deputy Superintendent position. Not surprising, since I can't even find where the position was posted. Can anyone find it? I suppose that are those closed door salary discussions are administrator raises being held in Closed Session tomorrow night. What else could that possibly mean?
Can't even find the supposed Contract for the Deputy Superintendent on the District's website (new and old).
Again, the PUSD administration cuts programs for children, won't give raises to teachers, yet promotes and gives raises to the educrats.
Posted by Ned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 11:46 am
Thank you for this very careful, measured, and well-documented claim. I'm sure it's 100% accurate. Should you desire more info on this matter, maybe Stacey or Kathleen or somebody else 'in the know' about secretive matters like this will be able to help, because they've probably heard something.
Posted by Jill, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm
I think the district just posted the contract online (it was not there this weekend). They want the board to approve a contract with Luz Cazares, their finance person, for $193,000 per year including two months off per year (8 weeks). I guess the district is not as financially challenged as they have been saying. Or they can always find money to hep themselves but no money for the classrooms.
This is a $15,000/year raise. The salary goes from $177,000 to $188,000 plus she would get a $4,000 retirement annuity. Add to that the increase to pay for having a masters degree.
So while the administration says there is no money for the classrooms and they need to eliminate programs and halt raises to teachers and certified staff at the schools, they are giving their own administrator a $15,000 per year raise. Pretty hypocritical.
I could not find anything in the job description of this new position that is for something the administration has not been doing already. Possibly they are shuffling the chairs on the deck in order to get raises. Let's move some responsibilities from one person to another to give out one raise. Later on we can do this again. When we are done, all of the administrators will 'surprisingly' get raises BUT they will say it was not a raise but an increase in responsibilities. And in the end, they are not doing anything more than they are doing today. Sounds like a scam to me.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm Kathleen Ruegsegger is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Ned, Hadn't heard this one. Not uncommon, however, for a deputy supt position to be given to a senior member of the cabinet (acknowledges time rather than added duties, by the way). Only an opinion, but I would be in the camp that agrees the timing of any district awarding a new title and potential raise would not be an enlightened move.
Posted by HC, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm
In the private sector, a finance manager who would sign a lease (page 11.5(1) of Web Link) with a 'university' to operate at PUSD that consists of a fake medical, nursing, and engineering college no one has ever heard of, without bothering to check that it has *never* been registered or approved by the State of California, would be immediately dismissed.
Yet when that happens at PUSD, even though the 'university' has a website with barely legible English with a Wells Fargo account to send money to in order to obtain a visa to 'enroll,' that then turns into a Federal criminal raid and subsequent international incident, complete with televised hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee, the person who erred and put students and staff in danger by having a criminal organization operate on PUSD property gets a...drum roll...$15,000 raise and promotion to Deputy Superintendent.
Posted by Jill, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm
I forgot she had something to do with Tri-Valley University renting office space on the district campus without vetting the company (which could have put our students at Village High School and Horizon High School at risk).
During the tenure of this person in finance, the PUSD bond rating from Standard and Poor's was downgraded.
The finance director also brought forward a refinancing plan for district's certificates of participation (loans) with doing interest-only payments for several years, taking on an additional cost of $6.5M in interest charges (according to the finance consultant the county hired to do a report on the refinance).
I guess to get a raise it is not what you do but rather who you know.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm Kathleen Ruegsegger is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
From the Board Packet:
"The Chief Financial Officer plays a pivotal role in the operations of the school district. In a large public institution such as the PUSD, the CFO / Deputy Assistant Superintendent has an immense responsibility that encompasses many departments and aspects of our work.
"As the Superintendent overseeing the entire school district, I work closely with my senior staff on a daily basis to ensure that our nearly 15,000 students are provided the best learning environment and vast opportunities with the limited resources at our disposal.
"As a public institution our financial activities must follow numerous criteria and countless restrictions, and our budget is scrutinized at many levels by the Alameda County, the State of California and our independent auditors. Managing our finances during some of the most difficult budgetary times in the State of California with five consecutive years of budget cuts is a tremendous task that Ms. Cazares, as the Assistant Superintendent of Business has lead phenomenally.
"As indicated on the list of duties attached, she oversees many departments that have endured severe cuts to the management team as well as to classified bargaining unit members. Ms. Cazares has been an absolutely essential part of our negotiation teams that have worked together with our bargaining units to mitigate the impact of the budget cuts. She plays an important role in communicating with our school community about our finances and is a vital member of our Cabinet.
"It is critical to have an experienced, skilled, and competent staff with integrity that is able to work together keeping students as the number one focus. As a Deputy Superintendent in Business, Ms. Cazares will take on additional duties to help our team continue on the path of success. As a Superintendent, I am fortunate to be in a school district with wonderful students, parents, Trustees and a stellar team of senior staff and management to work with. Keeping a well rounded and experienced team of senior staff together will continue to be a great benefit to our students and our school district."
Links to the job description and contract can be found here: Web Link
Posted by HC, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm
Only an inexperienced, unskilled, and incompetent individual would place District students at risk by allowing an Admissions Office for a sham university to be located at PUSD and not driving 1 mile (even though she has a supposed car allowance) to verify that the so-called 'Tri-Valley University' she allowed to operate at PUSD supposedly located at 4455 Stoneridge Drive did not even exist.
And as far as "She plays an important role in communicating with our school community about our finances" note that much of what she has done is communicate misleading information. For example, when the certificates of participation were refinanced, rather than disclosing to the Board that the District would have to pay $6.5 million more to pay back the loan, she claimed they would save $800,000. That was completely false.
She can't even produce a cash flow projection statement for developer fees that her two predecessors, Sandray Lepley and Buster McCurtain, did on a regular basis.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm Kathleen Ruegsegger is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Sections of the contract:
"2.5 Board may also consider an additional bonus based on performance."
"2.6 Pursuant to the Employer-Paid Contribution Schedule set forth below, employer- paid contributions shall be made to a 457 plan or a 403(b) plan for the benefit of Cázares . . . $4,000 per year"
"5.3 District shall establish and maintain a 125 Plan for the benefit of Deputy Superintendent."
"5.7 Upon retirement with at least seven (7) years of service to District, Deputy Superintendent and spouse or domestic partner shall be entitled to District-paid medical, dental and vision premiums on the same basis as regular certificated, classified and/or management employees. District shall pay medical and dental premiums through the end of the month in which Deputy Superintendent attains the age of sixty-five (65)."
"5.9 Upon retirement with at least seven (7) years of service to District, in addition to District-paid medical, dental and vision premiums, Deputy Superintendent shall be entitled to the District-paid golden handshake described in Administrative Regulation 2200."
i. If the Board terminates this Agreement before its normal expiration, except pursuant to paragraphs 10.1.1 to 10.1.4 above, it shall pay to Deputy Superintendent her base salary and medical/dental/vision benefits for the lesser of either eighteen (18) months or for that number of months remaining on this Agreement."
No mention of car allowance or mileage reimbursement (other than: "6.1 The District shall reimburse Deputy Superintendent for all actual and necessary out-of-District expenses. Reimbursement shall be in accordance with Board policy.") So is the monthly car stipend gone or is there a side letter to the contract?
Posted by Jill, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm
Kathleen, no mention of car stipend specifically but it might fit into this provision in the contract,
"2.3: Except as specifically modified by this Agreement, Deputy Superintendent shall receive all benefits provided to executive cabinet members."
That is part of the "me-too" clauses they put in contracts where they get extra benefits without the public realizing it.
Also, you describe the job position above. Is there anything listed that that the administration is not doing already? This looks like reiterating existing job positions at the assistant superintendent level. That description also says "It is critical to have an experienced, skilled, and competent staff with integrity that is able to work together keeping students as the number one focus." Same argument they always use for more taxes, "It's for the kids."
Personally my thought is if we have the extra money, we should be using it to pay down some of the debt that this administration has accumulated for the taxpayer. Plus we should be removing the benefit of free medical and dental insurance for retirees where the employee does not pay a cent for and the district does not fund in an actuarial way. Our post-retirement liabilities keep going us since we continue to give out the free benefits like money is just flowing in and we do not know how to spend it.
Posted by I want that job !, a resident of the Valley Trails neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm
Absolutely unbelievable. This is so way more than the private sector would pay for a ten month job. So, I want the job ! No more long commute, nice daytime work hours, no screaming customers, job security for life, huge vacation -- it's perfect. And I get to laugh at all the stupid gullible residents in this city who have been duped into thinking that PUSD is broke - lol. Obviously not for the inner circle !
Posted by me too, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 6:04 pm
Not to mention that if I had that job and they did not want me anymore, for any reason, even if I do not perform to their expectations, they have to pay me $300,000, and pay for my medical and dental insurance until I hit age 65. Pretty sweet deal!
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm Kathleen Ruegsegger is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
me too, it's unlikely that the exit package is ever less than the 18 month buy out as well. The contracts are rolled over each year with a satisfactory performance making it a perpetual three year contract.
Jill, good point; could be it's a me too. I quoted the contract, not the job description, but I doubt the job changed--it's just a promotion for the assistant supt of business services. It doesn't appear to be a great deal of money (not enough to undo big cuts), but politically it sends a bad message to the community and, frankly, to the rest of staff making "me too" more like "me first."
Posted by HC, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm
"Me First" is exactly right. Luz Cazares doesn't have even an administrative credential or any credential in any educational field whatsoever, and being promoted to Deputy Superintendent without even a job posted for a Deputy Superintendent, with no apparent interviews to find the most qualified candidate, is a travesty. Add that she is getting $15,000 in a raise when she claims the District has to borrow money to cover its bills is mismanagement at its worse below:
According to Cazares in Web Link on the "nest egg" in passage of Prop 30 and that "Cazares still expects the district to be $2 million in the red at the end of May, before it gets money owed by the state, and said the district could have to take a short-term loan known as TRANS to cover its bills."
Posted by plus a pension, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 7:17 pm
I guess she needs the higher pay now so that she can get inflated pensions like other recent retirees from PUSD. Going online it lists 21 people who have retired from PUSD with retirements of more than $100,000 per year. John Casey is receiving $157,837/year in retirement. Clem Donaldson, former HR director who followed Casey from his last job, is taking in $181,480/year in retirement. These people are also receiving free medical and health insurance upon their retirement, paid for by you and me. Pension spiking is commonplace in PUSD. I learned that after Clem retired, the district hired him back (meaning paid him) to teach other pending retirees on how to milk the retirement system. I thought that was a joke until Casey did confirm that.
I saw that there are no raises in management until the free medical and dental insurance for retiree plan is eliminated AND we have formal rules that disallow spiking of pensions or purchasing air time. Since management is non-represented (i.e., not in a union), we can do this for management today without any legal issues that the unions claim. Nobody gets a raise or gets promoted to a higher salary without everybody in management having these changes. That means that no renewal of any management contracts until the person agrees to this change.
Kathleen, you describe this great. "Me first" is the message that the district is saying.
Posted by Marie, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 7:44 pm
Shocking, disgraceful, unbelievable, and yet predictable. Another example of the superintendent taking care of her cabinet employees before the kids and other staff in the district. No change of duties, just a title change that brings more money. I have lost faith in this "new" superintendent who apparently cannot stand up to her staff. Shame on her. And, shame on the Board if they allow this to happen. Saying someone is working hard is a slap in the face to the other staff who have been working just as hard throughout all the budget cuts. Ms. Ahmadi, I challenge you to face all of your other staff individually and tell them what a better job Ms. Cazares is doing then they are.
Posted by a reader, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm
The first thing that occurred to me when I learned about this promotion and benefit increase is -- Will it be enough? Are we doing enough in terms of compensation, perks, and privileges to attract and retain top administrative staff for our school district. The second question that pops into my mind is are we asking too much from too few, or is it time to increase our hiring of administrative staff so that they can continue to perform at the highest level? I think we need to look at both increasing compensation of all kinds, and increasing the administrative staff with new hiring.
Posted by HC, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm
The first thing that occurred to me is why doesn't the Board hire people with experience (why was the Superintendent hired with no experience) and qualifications for the job. The second question is wondering why anyone would even consider someone on any list for a Deputy Superintendent without an administrative credential.
The third thought is because Cazares has no administrative credential, she could probably not be a Deputy Superintendent anywhere is California because she is unqualified without the credential according to other job postings in other districts for that particular position, including Orange County (qualifications are here Web Link), Redlands (qualifications are here Web Link),
She wouldn't even be qualified for the position in Texas according to Texas Deputy Superintendent positions- Web Link
The fourth thing that came to mind is that the Board should be recalled if they approve this promotion.
Posted by Academia , a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm
Isn't that the norm. It seems all 'education' panels and discussions I've heard say most money goes to 'administration'.
Not like the one room schoolhouse anymore, no more just teachers teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic...... without regulations, preferences, picking and choosing who gets special treatment, etc. etc . Administration uses up valuable 'education' dollars!!
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm Kathleen Ruegsegger is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
From the Board Packet:
Discuss and approve the Contract of Employment for the Deputy Superintendent of Business for the Pleasanton Unified School District "
I haven't watched the meeting to know if the Board took action or not. If the Board approved this with Budget TBA . . . . well, NOTHING should be approved with Budget TBA. The contract was listed for closed session and the budget issues could have been discussed. The question would be whether supplemental information informed the public of where the funds are coming from prior to approval.
Posted by Appalled, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Dec 10, 2012 at 9:35 pm
This is crazy – it used to be that if you wanted to make the big bucks you worked for the private sector. Now it seems that taking the taxpayer’s money is more lucrative - $188,000 a year with 8 weeks vacation and lifetime medical and full pension is better than what a private sector CFO managing a $120M budget would ever get. And no worry or repercussions if you don’t do a good job – you walk away with 18 months pay!
What do similar positions make in Livermore, San Ramon or Danville? Or how about Cupertino or Palo Alto – the districts we should aspire to.
Plus, if what some of the others are saying is true – she does not have the credentials for this level position - much less to be “second in command”. It would be appalling to approve this contract.
The only way we can stop these things is to show up at the board meeting and let the board know that we do not approve of them spending our money this way.
Unless the Superintendent and/or the board members can justify this in a public forum they should be voted out of office.
Posted by Arnold, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm
I would consider this UNBELIEVABLE if it weren't for the fact that screwing taxpayers has become common practice amongst public sector unions. The only surprise here is that it sounds like the taxpayers are finally waking up!
Posted by Daniel Bradford, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Dec 11, 2012 at 1:20 am
As a former PUSD teacher, all I can say is: same as it ever was.
"Cazares also would also be eligible for "an additional bonus, based on her performance," according to a draft contract with the PUSD along with "all benefits provided to executive cabinet members.""
Nice if that was offered to classified employees and teachers.
"Under her current contract, those include a $600 per-month car allowance..."
Why not just buy Luz a car and have done with it? In effect, that's what the taxpayers are doing. Teachers and classified employees have to make their own car payments. If we have business-related mileage, we claim reimbursement from the district.
"After 10 years with the district, management employees are also eligible for a "Golden Handshake" retirement bonus of at least $25,500. Those bonuses are indexed to pay, so as pay goes up, the bonus does as well."
I see that we're all in this together, and it's good to see that upper management in PUSD is sharing the sacrifices of students, teachers, and classified. Oh wait, no they're not. But remember, we're "family" and "we're all in this TOGETHER."
Don't get me wrong: Luz Cazares is a truly able administrator. But these kind of sweetheart deals when schools are struggling with budget cuts is just plain wrong.
When John Casey left the district, I hoped that the new Superintendent, Ms. Ahmadi, would run things better. But this is the Casey Administration with a different label. Ms. Ahmadi went from listening to teachers and parents to pretending to listen to teachers and parents to not even bothering to pretend to listen to teachers and parents in the short space of six months. And the Board keeps rubber-stamping these outrageous perks.
And then they scratch their heads and wonder why the voters refuse to pass parcel taxes. Shoot self in foot, reload, shoot self in foot again, then wonder why you have this aching pain in your foot...sure is a mystery.
p.s.--I don't want to read about how "unions" did this. Luz Cazares is NOT a unionized employee, she's a contracted employee. Get your facts straight. This is the corrupt upper management of PUSD, enabled by a feckless Board, fattening their own bank accounts at the expense of taxpayers, teachers, classified staff, and worst of all, the children of Pleasanton. "Disgraceful" doesn't even begin to cover this.
Posted by Yup, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 11, 2012 at 1:40 am
And the teachers union is nothing but a bunch of innocent Victims. Just another teachers union member casting/deflecting blame on the district union members. In the meantime the taxpayers and students continue to get the short end of the stick.
Posted by Daniel Bradford, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Dec 11, 2012 at 7:56 am
There's an idea: come out from behind your keyboards and pseudonyms and actually *do* something to reform PUSD.
Go to the board meeting and ask questions of the Board members. They're your elected representatives, and they work for you.
Don't like the current Board? Run for the Board yourself or recruit someone who has the time and interest in serving and support them with your money and time during the next election.
I agree, things need to change in PUSD.
And the real "victims" here are, in order of importance, the students of PUSD first and the teachers and parents a distant second. Teachers have five furlough days, which means five days without pay; for the Board to give Luz Cazares a huge raise before they've found a way to restore those furlough days is unconscionable. But we teachers are used to sacrifice--the average classroom teacher donates $1,500 of his/her personal funds for classroom supplies every year--and we've been making plenty of sacrifices throughout the budget crisis, while upper management have made none. When I was a PUSD teacher, I donated an average of $2,500 in supplies and equipment to the library each year I was there, for a total of $20,000. But upper management, the so-called "cabinet level" of PUSD, seems to think sacrifices are only for us "little people".
The real concern are the students of PUSD: they are being cheated of five full days of their education (that's one school week) due to furlough days. Every cent PUSD can scrape together should go towards restoring those furlough days. Until that's done, no one in upper management gets one more cent. "Kids come first in PUSD". Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it.
And let's start with those $600 a month car allowances. If my information is correct, at least five of those are being paid. That's $3000 a month x 12 months = $36,000 a year. The cost of restoring the furlough days is $150,000, and that $36,000 moves us closer to that goal.
Luz Cazares' $15,000 a year raise would knock another chunk out of that $150,000. But the Board isn't going to do anything unless and until the voters of PUSD demand accountability. You can do that starting tonight.
Or...you can stay at home and just bellyache in the P-Weekly forums, and then wonder why nothing ever changes. It's your school district, your taxes, and your choice.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Dec 11, 2012 at 8:58 am Kathleen Ruegsegger is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Daniel, You don't say if you will be in attendance. A better rallying call . . . join me. And writing to the board members counts, particularly if all of us write to the board members. So I would ask that if you cannot attend, please take the time to write to each board member this morning. Emails are listed at: Web Link
On the other thread I asked if that $150,000 figure is right; just seems low for all five days ($30,000 a day for all employees?) Maybe it's $150,000 per day? We'll see when Glenn responds.
But, we still agree that at any price, giving this promotion/raise is wrong, but as a first salvo in restoring anything, it stinks.
Responsible financial management helps Pleasanton Unified put resources toward results
Given our primary funding source is the taxpayers dollar, it is imperative that we use our scarce resources wisely. Pleasanton USD develops its budget each year with one overriding priority in mind: will budgeted funds improve the learning opportunities for our students? Making that decision is never easy because of competing priorities and demands. We are guided by our Strategic Plan that provides the vision to use resources that keep our students and schools moving forward.
These are guiding principles we follow in making budget decisions:
A rich curriculum with learning opportunities that meet the diverse needs of all students
A prudent reserve so we can weather economic and funding uncertainty
Balanced budgets that help us live within our means for at least three years
Competitive total compensation for our employees
Open dialogue with all stakeholders about budget priorities
Transparent communication about fiscal operations and budget decisions
Posted by Appalled, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Dec 11, 2012 at 11:12 pm
Well, no one showed up in opposition to this. Not one public comment. The promotion/raise of Luz passed 3 to 2.
Apparently, Luz was offered a position in another district and this whole thing was designed to keep her in PUSD.
Two of the talking heads (Grant and Larson) talked about how great “the team” is and how “we” have to keep it together. According to them Luz is “one of the top CBO’s in the state”. And besides, that the additional costs “aren’t really too much”. (Never mind that the additional costs will be on-going, the district will have to pay every year and you know that it won’t be long before it is time for a big pay raise too. Plus now the bar is reset to a new level which the other assistants will soon be expecting to be at.)
The third yes-man (Bowser) said it was a practical matter – it is easier to not rock the boat then it is to stand on principal.
So much for the Board being the guardians of the public money.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Dec 11, 2012 at 11:46 pm Kathleen Ruegsegger is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Appalled, I wrote to all the board members and the superintendent. Three members responded--one which was nine words and non-responsive, to use a district term. Being there would not have changed anything, and that's why few ever show up. Only two are trying to be guardians.
I never heard the "Budget: TBA" actually get explained either.