By Tim Hunt
Tough negotiations for teachers and management in PleasantonUploaded: Nov 2, 2021
Public school districts are trying to walk a fine line this school year. Thanks to the state funding formula locked in by Proposition 98, districts are awash with what amounts to one-time money from state and federal sources.
Looking out a year, when the state budget likely will drop without the huge influx of federal funds to say nothing about the slowing economy, the average of more of more than $21,000 per student funding likely is to fall.
That leaves districts without collective bargaining agreements with their teachers and classified employees unions in a guessing game. Pleasanton teachers are so frustrated with negotiations that they overwhelmingly approved a strike vote. Negotiations were declared at impasse by the teachers’ union in the summer and the sides now are in “fact finding” with a neutral third party.
The district on Aug. 17 offered a 5% package over two years that was rejected by the union. Complicating negotiations, as Jeff Keller pointed out in his opinion piece last week in the Weekly is the deal that trustees gave to Superintendent David Haglund and the management team of 3.5% raises a year, plus they receive district-paid health and other benefits.
I recommend checking out Keller’s opinion opinion. He grew up locally and has taught in Pleasanton at Valley View in the dual immersion English/Spanish program as well as serving as principal at Marilyn Avenue in Livermore where we met as participants in Project Roadrunner to turn around the school. He left that position for a district-level job overseeing instruction in Stockton and then returned to a principalship in Santa Clara.
Keller argues that trustees have prioritized senior district staff ahead of the teachers. It’s hard to disagree.
A big challenge for Pleasanton is that teachers are responsible for paying for their own health insurance based upon a 30-year-old deal made back when health insurance was affordable and the Pleasanton and Dublin districts boundaries to match city limits. Since that time, health benefits costs have soared. Pleasanton’s salaries start at $69,352 and top at $113,726 after 20 years and with 75 graduate units.
Dublin, which provides employees with health and dental insurance, tops at $118,220 after 24 years, while Livermore and San Ramon top at $105,494 and 103,180, respectively after 24 and 25 years. They also provide health insurance. Dublin and Livermore have settled with their teachers for 3% raises in the current school year.
Haglund, in public talks, has acknowledged that the district needs to figure out a way to work benefits into the contract. The old arrangement gave teachers a 20% raise that helped both during their career and in retirement, but it’s going to effect recruiting. That’s a big number, particularly when district enrollment has dropped by 800 students over the last five years. That means less revenue once state funding returns to its pre-pandemic formula.
It’s never easy to serve as a school trustee, but this will be a particularly challenging time for those elected officials and district management over the next couple of years.