News


School board approves superintendent contract, discusses layoffs

Fundraising saves some positions from layoffs, others still on chopping block

Pleasanton's school board approved a contract Tuesday night to confirm Rick Rubino as the district's new superintendent, officially ending the search for a new schools leader.

Rubino, currently the superintendent at Gridley Unified in Butte County, will start in Pleasanton on July 1. His contract, which is available for public viewing in the online board agenda, states he will earn a base salary of $256,000. Interim superintendent Jim Hansen will continue leading the district until June 30 while Rubino wraps up the school year at his district.

His three-year contract includes 24 days of vacation, plus holidays and 12 days of sick leave. He will receive a district "mobile communication device," access to a professional leadership coach for a year (up to $400 in services a month), and options for medical, vision and dental benefits.

Employment decisions were a constant theme throughout the board meeting. The district is looking at laying off some certificated and classified employees after a lag in one-time funding that was fueling some positions.

Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation announced during public comment that it would be donating $570,000 to the district for the 2016-17 school year -- partially to save jobs that would have been laid off.

Later in the meeting the board continued with layoffs for 1.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) certificated positions rather than holding administrative hearings prior to layoffs, down from 25.9 FTE. Some of the employees who would have been laid off were restored, and others decided to retire or resign instead.

Those layoffs had been approved by the board in February, pending a final state and district budget, and Tuesday's decision was the final stage in the layoff process, assistant superintendent of human resources Dianne Howell said. The layoff settlement agreement gives each employee 35% of Kaiser's current health maintenance organization (HMO) rate for one month's coverage of health insurance, with no dependents.

PPIE has dedicated $360,000 of those donations to fund the salaries for four instructional coaches, PPIE executive director Susan Hayes said. Additionally, $60,000 will go toward the district's fifth grade band and strings program to keep it fully funded, donations that will be given alongside funds from Pleasanton Schools Educational Enrichment Foundation (PSEE).

The remaining $150,000 will go toward technology needs at middle schools, high schools and the district's preschools, she said. That includes $40,000 to Amador Valley, $30,000 to Foothill, $30,000 to Harvest Park, $25,000 to Pleasanton Middle, $20,000 to Hart, $3,000 to Village, $1,000 to the Harvest Park preschool and $1,000 to a district preschool.

Since the last meeting, the board received news that this fundraising means the fifth-grade band and strings program can continue fully funded. As of the board's April 19 meeting, .71 full-time equivalent positions from the program weren't funded, which includes several part-time teachers.

The board also approved layoff decisions for 13 staff members whose jobs were fueled by one-time dollars that were not renewed, including 10 library assistants. District staff emphasized they hoped the state's May revise, expected within a week, will have more funding for public schools so the district can keep some of those positions.

In other school news:

-The board appointed Josh Butterfield as a permanent vice principal at Foothill High. He has previously been an interim principal at the school.

-The board appointed David Young as the new director of facilities, maintenance, operation and transportation.

-The board approved a settlement to reimburse an unnamed student's educational expenses at $11,250 per year.

-The district also rehired 16 temporary teachers and employees who were scheduled to be automatically released at the end of the school year, per district protocol.

Comments

21 people like this
Posted by Carol
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 11, 2016 at 9:27 am

Am I reading this correctly? Oxymoron?
"Hiring a district's new superintendent, he will earn a base salary of $256,000".
"Hires a new director of facilities, maintenance, operation and transportation". ($$Not stated)
Then goes on to talk about..."Later in the meeting the board confirmed layoffs for 25.9 full-time equivalent certificated positions rather than holding administrative hearings prior to layoffs".
Sounds like school administration, is top$$ heavy, while teachers are moved around like pawns?



23 people like this
Posted by Boiling
a resident of Birdland
on May 11, 2016 at 10:55 am

While they mention the 10 library assistance that are being laid off, that list is a bit longer. It includes 4 site technical specialists, elementary school custodian, lead technology trainer and several other positions. Seem these are essential to the running of the schools. No one to man the libraries so students cannot use - thousands of resources not being utilized. Dirty schools because there aren't enough people to tend to the facility needs of a school. With the increase use of technology no on site support for the thousands of devices and users of the equipment.

What the heck? The economy is doing so much better than it has in years, but there are still these extensive layoffs? Other districts around us do not seem be cutting staff like the PUSD.

The May revise may make all this a moot point, but so many people cut for now means they are looking for other jobs...so quality people, trained people leave.


19 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Country Fair
on May 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm

It has now become embarassing to me that my children go to Pleasanton schools. New Supetintendent at $256,000 but we cannot afford library service, etc. The patients are running the asylum!


11 people like this
Posted by FedUp
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 11, 2016 at 4:28 pm

All of your comments are spot on. I'm not sure how many, if any, of the School Board Members read the comments but it might be worth e-mailing them with your comments. I've done this at times and some of the Board Members do take time to reply with thoughtful responses.


11 people like this
Posted by Tina
a resident of Mission Park
on May 12, 2016 at 10:43 am

I am also concerned that our school have become top/district office heavy. We are continuing to add instructional coaches and district positions while laying off classified staff. Staff that, by the way, is already overworked from numerous layoffs. I hope that our new Superintendent, in addition to being a strong educational leader, can also handle the "business" of running a school. No matter how may cool new programs we add and pat ourselves on the back about, if we do not have staff to support them they are doomed to fail and waste everyone's time and money. I found the school board meeting from April to be heartbreaking. I hope Mr. Rubino can set Pleasanton schools in the right direction.


19 people like this
Posted by Top Heavy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on May 12, 2016 at 11:26 am

New superintendent pay at $256K while 25 staff laid off, that's quite top heavy for sure. It would be nice to see much fewer lay offs, and a more balanced expenditure. After all, our schools still need the staff to run it, regardless of how great the district leader is.


8 people like this
Posted by Need the IT Staff for SBAC!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Our school's IT support person got one of the layoff notices. I have no idea how they will keep the computer lab in good operational condition for all the official SBAC assessment tests. The "plan" is to spread the remaining staff among more schools. That's not a recipe for productivity. The spread-too-thin, split-site IT folks won't know the teachers, won't know the students, won't know the machines, and won't have enough capacity when testing season rolls around.


13 people like this
Posted by It's a UNION problem
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on May 13, 2016 at 6:15 am

Each year the state gives money to the district, but it's not guaranteed. So each year they hire people with that money, not knowing whether they'll have those funds the next year. I think it's very responsible for the trustees to reduce costs to balance their budget. That's not the problem.

The problem is that the district should be laying off the worst performing employees, not the newest. But the Unions protect bad teachers, so they get raises and prosper while the new (energetic, optimistic) employees are fired. There are teachers in our district with HR files full of complaints, but the administration can't touch them.

Shame on you, PUSD, for lacking the backbone to stand up to the Union bullies.


6 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 13, 2016 at 7:58 am

Get the Facts is a registered user.

To It's a UNION problem:

I love how you feel it's a "union" problem, even though you said yourself in the beginning of your post "Each year the state gives money to the district, but it's not guaranteed." That's a FUNDING problem, not a UNION problem. It sounds like you want to solve this funding problem by laying off the worst-performing teachers (which must be more senior, higher paid teachers), and hiring high performing teachers (which must be newer, less experienced, and lower paid teachers). Interesting solution.

Keep in mind when things got really tight about five years ago (I do not recall the exact years), our union voted to take eight furlough days over two years to help keep many of the staff and programs in place. We were the first union in the area, and one of the first in the state, to make this offer. We took a hit in the wallet to help the kids (meanwhile, two different parcel taxes didn't pass).

Also, "There are teachers in our district with HR files full of complaints, but the administration can't touch them." Assuming this is true - because the statement is pure speculation - administration can fire teachers, it happens all the time. But administration needs to do their homework and put in the time to do this, and many administrators don't want to take their time to put in the work. This is due process. Again, don't put this on the union.


7 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 13, 2016 at 10:18 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

GtF, "it happens all the time" isn't accurate either. It's not just administrators who need to do their work; it's expensive. And with the union defending a bad teacher, often it's a six figure endeavor. Also higher paid, more senior teachers are not necessarily better than lower paid, less senior teachers . . . and vice versa. One can be awesome or awful regardless of experience. And with the first day, third year achievability of tenure, even the lowest paid bad teachers are just as difficult to remove.

Furlough days were going to be non-teaching days, as I recall. Do correct me if I got that wrong. So it would be saving jobs at the expense of a child's education.

The funding problems are not just state based. How much is being spent on lifetime benefits each year (let alone the unfunded future of that benefit)? How much will the district's contributions increase for PERS and STRS over the next few years? How many times will the district borrow from Peter to pay Paul while still having to pay Peter back? Those budget issues are driving more of the layoffs than anything else.

And please don't throw the funding problem at two failed parcel taxes. There was an answer there, at either amount, that was rejected--specificity. Tell me a parcel tax will buy X custodians or counselors or librarians. I'm in. Tell me a million will go to provide bonuses to the best teachers. I'm in. How about CSR of 20:1 in math at grade 9? CSR of 25:1 in grades 1, 2, and/or 3? Three million for summer school enrichment courses? The truth is, even with that specificity, the money most of these things save in general fund expenses (exceptions are bonuses or summer school ideas) will be spent to cover those benefit/pension/loan problems. Or the next negotiated raise, which will compound the PERS/STRS contributions. I'd be fine with that as long as we all are honest about how this really works.


1 person likes this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 13, 2016 at 4:23 pm

What has happened to the school nurses? There were possible layoffs in previous articles and they were not mentioned in this article? Families are concerned about losing them.


Like this comment
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 13, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Kathleen, I am aware of all you speak of, but disagree with many of your statements.

First, "it happens all the time" IS accurate. Three teachers in the past four years have been dismissed from my site. I didn't agree with any of the dismissals, but I am not the principal, who was doing their job to what they felt was best for the students. We can debate the definition of "all the time", but I have seen it done regularly, which I define as "all the time."

The union doesn't defend a bad teacher, the union simply makes sure the teacher gets due process. Otherwise good teachers could and would get fired for anything, which I have seen happen at private schools. To good teachers. Due process is something union teachers get, and it makes a school and district stronger (in my opinion).

Yes, furlough days were "non-teaching days", for both certificated, classified, and administrative staff. I'm not sure what you expected to happen, we take a furlough day and then come in to work on that day, so we worked an unpaid day? I would hardly say it was "at the expense of a child's education". The furlough days meant teachers had to get three more (the first year) or five more (the second year) days of curriculum to the students over the days that remained. So we got paid less, did the same amount of work, crammed into less time.

The lack of funding IS a state problem. I'll be honest, I don't know the breakdown of PERS and STRS, but again the union is being blamed. The cost of education is 90 or so percent personnel. These are some of the costs of doing "business" in the public education arena. The state needs to provide for it.

The parcel tax??? I barely mentioned the attempts at the end of a paragraph about furlough days that cost even the lowest paid (full-time) teacher thousands of dollars. We gave, the homeowners didn't, I'm fine with it. I never had a problem with the parcel tax(s) not passing, though I wish they did. And please stop with the "specificity" argument, that is old and boring. The parcel tax people heard you/the opponents loud and clear after the first failed attempt, and the second one was more specific. It still didn't pass, and voters/parents/residents said it wasn't specific enough. It didn't matter, opponents needed an excuse, and lack of specificity is always the claim. There will always be one or more excuses, I doubt a parcel tax will ever pass.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 13, 2016 at 9:43 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Graf, Three tenured teachers? I just want to be sure I understand. Even less than one a year would be a surprise to me, depending on the school. You understand that most workers/employees work in an at will environment. Due process is a union thing not afforded to most. We will disagree on whether it is providing strength to anyone other than union members.

I felt furlough days should be unpaid work days taken on non teaching days. It is a lot to ask; likely a loss of staff development time. Better than "cramming" in more information in less time . . . sounds like torture for everyone. If you go back, there was a lot of denial about financial

The cost is more like 85%. Unions are only to blame for not understanding the costs of their demands, if I fact they don't understand. People are losing their jobs to cover negotiated salaries and benefits.

The second parcel tax was NOT more specific. I was asked to participate in meetings where a "need for flexibility" was the rallying cry. People were looking for a reason to trust and provide support. That administration failed. I think a parcel tax could pass and noted areas that would be easy to support.


Like this comment
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2016 at 11:10 am

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"I felt furlough days should be unpaid work days taken on non teaching days".

Kathleen as you know, there are only five non-student days on the calendar. The first three of the eight furlough days were agreed to be taken in the school year that was already ongoing, and agreed to at a point when no non-student days were left. The next five were to be taken the next year, with - I believe - two of those five days being staff development days (it may have been just one, but I'm pretty sure it was two). There simply had to be some student days involved. It would not have worked to use only non-student days the second year, as students and staff would have shown up in August for the year with no preparation.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 14, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

GtF, First sorry for not catching the auto correct and not deleting that half thought.

Here is where we are going to differ, I don't think the children of any community should miss days of learning or have the concepts crammed into other days to meet the financial obligations of salaries and long term benefits of a school district. As long as unions only negotiate to benefit their members, and not for change in how teachers are retained, dismissed, evaluated, or provided merit pay, children are losing at some level in order to cover those commitments. I'll say it again so I am understood, I would support a parcel tax that would provide serious bonuses to the best teachers, even without a commitment to reengineer tenure. It would bring the best teachers here.


2 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2016 at 3:20 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"I would support a parcel tax that would provide serious bonuses to the best teachers"

Please, oh please, tell me how you can or will decide who are the best teachers.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 14, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I wouldn't suggest that would be easy. Certainly principals, other teachers?, department chairs, students where applicable, parents. Nominations. Not test scores though. Evidence of certain traits: dedication, engagement, innovation . . . I'm completely open to suggestions. I think if teachers aren't part of setting up the process (but not Union lead) it would be difficult to get it off the ground. I'd like to think the teacher doesn't have to fill out forms, etc.

I remember a teacher many years ago who had her elementary students lie on their backs under their desks to draw to understand Michaelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. :o)


4 people like this
Posted by Ditch the awful 'teachers'
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2016 at 5:03 pm

Many of Pleasanton 'teachers' spend most of the time handing out packets from some internet site (or have the students download them), then literally waste class time by having students fill out packets of worksheets.

The other awful Pleasanton 'teachers' waste class time by having students take notes from some textbook or article in prescribed Cornell Notes format several hours per week along with hand copying drawings in text books onto notebook paper.

The other awful Pleasanton 'teachers' waste class time by having students watch YouTube or Google videos and take notes in prescribed Cornell Notes format several hours per week.

It is no wonder that there is declining enrollment in Pleasanton schools.


Like this comment
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2016 at 6:33 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Kathleen, as I suspected, you have no plan ("I'm completely open to suggestions"), as I have never heard a good plan for merit pay. I'm happy you didn't mention linking merit pay to test scores, but I know you and I agree on this, we've both said this on a previous strand. I'm actually open to merit pay, but I've never heard of a plan that comes close to what makes sense. And never would the union - or even just teachers - allow parents to be part of this process. Our job is teach kids, not appease parents, and these are often mutually exclusive. (I think the Michelangelo idea is great, but one good idea is not worth a bump in pay.)

@ Ditch, are there ANY good teachers? I know there's some bad ones out there, but you make it sound like all teachers are "awful". I'm sorry we all suck so bad.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 15, 2016 at 12:04 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Why do I need to have a plan, and independent of anyone else who would want to have or need to contribute? And parents--they actually can be reasonable--can't participate? It's disheartening to see a throwing up of hands rather than an opportunity to collaborate and build.


6 people like this
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2016 at 4:25 pm

I find it amazing that in every other profession experience and wisdom is valued. Employees who have learned on the job and grown get raises and promotions. Yet there seems to be a large number of people in Pleasanton that believe that teachers get worse the more experience they have. It is always "we need to get rid of older teachers and hire young, energetic teachers".

So what do we do after those young teachers get 5 or 10 years of experience...I suppose we have to fire them all and hire younger teachers.


4 people like this
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2016 at 4:28 pm

"literally waste class time by having students fill out packets of worksheets."

Yes, and those stupid coaches keep having the kids practice the same drills over and over again. When will they stop wasting those kids time and just let them enjoy the sport. What a waste of 2 hours everyday.

There was this piano teacher who asked her students to practice the same piece of music over and over again. That is ridiculous. If she didn't get it right the first time, how is doing it over and over going to improve her piano playing.


Like this comment
Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2016 at 9:24 pm

You two, KR and GTF's, perhaps, would enjoy YouTube, Falling in Reverse-"The Bad Girls Club" Just saying...some kids read your blog...this is what they thought.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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