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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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District layoffs are routine for temp employees

Uploaded: Feb 25, 2016
Express headlines this week have talked about layoffs in the Pleasanton school district.
The writer is accurate, but there is one key element missing. The district is laying off employees because the state is not renewing a ONE-TIME grant. It would be appropriate to ask why the district was using one-time money for employees in positions that should be ongoing. Using one-time funds for special projects that end when the funds end is appropriate and smart—so is spending the money on equipment and materials.
Using one-time money for personnel is an inherent gamble regardless of the economy.
Incidentally, laying off temporary employees is pretty much standard procedure. The burdensome rules to eliminate a full-time tenured employee make the temporary hire the best approach for teachers. It’s some of those provisions that has the district leadership sending out layoff notices in March when the district budget will not be set until the state passes its spending plan in June. That more three-month lag invites prudent administrators to routinely send out layoff notices and then re-hire staff when the budget is set.
This year, school district budgets across the state should be relatively flush. If you assume the governor’s budget, as presented in January, looks similar in May when he will submit a revised plan to the Legislature, then school districts statewide will be in excellent shape.
The governor’s proposed budget allocates almost $72 billion to k-12 education—that’s up a staggering 51 percent since the depths of the recession impact in 2011-12. Per student spending would average $14,500, up about $366 from the current year. Pleasanton, as a wealthy suburban district with a low population of disadvantaged student, will not receive the extra funds that will go to districts in Oakland or Richmond, but it certainly will not go backward as it did post-recession.
It’s tough to believe the district would have any cries of poor mouth. Leaders need to live with decisions made by their predecessors and be straight with the community instead of trying to convince the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education and other donors that there is a “need” for those programs. If there’s a need, budget for it with the increased cash from the state.
Compared to the San Ramon Valley district, the teachers’ union and district have settled on pretty modest pay packages for this year. So, there should be cash available for programs and personnel that are deemed necessary.
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Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Feb 25, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

The temporary employee lay offs would not be necessary if the PUSD would put in place a goal setting and review process for all teachers. That would enable the PUSD to release, terminate under performing teachers.

I negotiated with unions over several years. The pettiness became so out of control, it was necessary that I negotiate conditions related to performance which over a couple of years I had a much better professional work force in place.

Posted by no user name, a resident of Downtown,
on Mar 2, 2016 at 6:37 am

no user name is a registered user.

I seriously doubt that ANY of these positions will prove to be so very necessary. Cutting out some fat is a good thing, it should also be done at the management levels. If the support staff spent as much time doing actual work, and no work time doing Facebook or any other personal stuff, the district would get by just fine with far fewer employees.

Posted by Mike, a resident of Downtown,
on Mar 2, 2016 at 8:40 am

Great decision City council, put the Lund Ranch issue on the June ballot instead of the November ballot costing $247,000 while we lay of school because of the lack of money. Hopefully the Costco tax money will pay for the June vote or will we be voting again to decide if the Costco will really be approved and built?

Posted by rrr, a resident of Birdland,
on Mar 2, 2016 at 12:21 pm

The reason we have these layoff notices, which go out every year, is because of the negotiation of the teacher's union. They got the law passed that you have to give a minimum amount of notice before laying somebody off. So if the districts do not send out these notices now, they will not be able to layoff any of those positions next year. This notice gives some flexibility and allows them to hire the positions that are a higher priority without being burdened with a position that might not be the top priority next year. So if the personnel are stressed with these layoff notices, they need to work with the union to change the rules. That will not happen since the people in charge of the unions are tenured and their jobs are not threatened.

The media is just using this non-event to generate big headlines instead of explaining rationally what is going on.

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