News

School board OKs 2.56% raises for executive cabinet, management staff

Move aligns with increases given to union employees; comes same night as board talks $8M in budget reductions

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education approved plans to award its executive cabinet, administrative staff and confidential employees a retroactive 2.56% pay raise, as well as a plan to reduce district expenditures by $8 million, during its regular meeting on Tuesday.

SRVUSD logo.

District officials said that the pay raises -- which will retroactively go into effect in July 2019 -- in line with the district's policy of granting the same salary and benefits increases across the board for all district employees.

Since the district already approved the 2.56% salary increase for union teachers and classified personnel, the board chose to follow its longstanding policy and extend the raise to its assistant principals and principals, executive cabinet members and the superintendent.

"This is really based on the fundamental value in our school district of fairness," board member Rachel Hurd said ahead of the board's unanimous vote during the online-only meeting Tuesday night.

"The phrase 'me too' was used in some of the emails I received in a way that was not necessarily so flattering but I would like to frame in another way," she said. "It's that we value every single one of our employees, so the raise that is negotiated for one group is shared and given to every other group."

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"I don't believe it would be fair to ask our principals and our assistant principals and our other administrators to not be compensated for this year," Hurd added.

The total cost of the increases (salary and benefits) for the executive cabinet, and management and confidential employees are $41,100 and $461,476, respectively.

For Superintendent Rick Schmitt, who is retiring June 30, that means his base salary for his final year is retroactively raised to $357,832.

For the rest of Schmitt's executive cabinet, their new 2019-20 salaries is $261,593 for deputy superintendent of educational services Toni Taylor (who retired midyear), $262,186 for assistant superintendent of facilities and operations Gary Black (who is retiring June 30), $237,810 for assistant superintendent of human resources Keith Rogenski, $226,486 for chief business officer Greg Medici and $226,486 for assistant superintendent of educational services Christine Huajardo (who succeed Taylor, in a restructured position, midyear).

The district's bargaining team originally reached a tentative labor agreement with its teacher's union, the San Ramon Valley Education Association, on March 10 -- one day prior to the World Health Organization's declaration that COVID-19 had reached pandemic proportions. That agreement included a salary increase akin to the 2.56% that has since been extended to unionized classified workers as well as management and confidential employees and the superintendent's executive cabinet.

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"What I've seen with our management and confidential employees, they've waited to last to make sure that all of our other employees have been taken care of throughout collective bargaining agreements. They've been waiting as long as any of them and longer than most of them," board member Ken Mintz said.

"Yes, there are management employees that are making more than teachers in the classroom, just like any other leadership structure there is increased responsibility and there is compensation for different levels of responsibility," he added.

During Tuesday's meeting board members said they received hundreds of emails from residents, many of whom took issue with the timing of the raise given that the Contra Costa County Office of Education had required that the district reduce expenditures by $8 million -- due to concerns about future structural deficits in the SRVUSD budget in light of costs from the salary bumps for unionized employees.

The county office submitted a plan to help the board reach this number that includes reducing certified employees by 34 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, eliminating 10 FTE classified employee positions, decreasing district business office expenditures, and reducing spending by the cabinet and individual school sites.

"CCCOE has serious concerns regarding the financial condition of the district, due to the additional ongoing costs proposed by the settlement agreements and the district's projection of a negative multi-year ending balance, being further compounded by developing economic events," Medici said in a staff report.

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School board OKs 2.56% raises for executive cabinet, management staff

Move aligns with increases given to union employees; comes same night as board talks $8M in budget reductions

by / Danville San Ramon

Uploaded: Wed, May 27, 2020, 8:16 pm

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education approved plans to award its executive cabinet, administrative staff and confidential employees a retroactive 2.56% pay raise, as well as a plan to reduce district expenditures by $8 million, during its regular meeting on Tuesday.

District officials said that the pay raises -- which will retroactively go into effect in July 2019 -- in line with the district's policy of granting the same salary and benefits increases across the board for all district employees.

Since the district already approved the 2.56% salary increase for union teachers and classified personnel, the board chose to follow its longstanding policy and extend the raise to its assistant principals and principals, executive cabinet members and the superintendent.

"This is really based on the fundamental value in our school district of fairness," board member Rachel Hurd said ahead of the board's unanimous vote during the online-only meeting Tuesday night.

"The phrase 'me too' was used in some of the emails I received in a way that was not necessarily so flattering but I would like to frame in another way," she said. "It's that we value every single one of our employees, so the raise that is negotiated for one group is shared and given to every other group."

"I don't believe it would be fair to ask our principals and our assistant principals and our other administrators to not be compensated for this year," Hurd added.

The total cost of the increases (salary and benefits) for the executive cabinet, and management and confidential employees are $41,100 and $461,476, respectively.

For Superintendent Rick Schmitt, who is retiring June 30, that means his base salary for his final year is retroactively raised to $357,832.

For the rest of Schmitt's executive cabinet, their new 2019-20 salaries is $261,593 for deputy superintendent of educational services Toni Taylor (who retired midyear), $262,186 for assistant superintendent of facilities and operations Gary Black (who is retiring June 30), $237,810 for assistant superintendent of human resources Keith Rogenski, $226,486 for chief business officer Greg Medici and $226,486 for assistant superintendent of educational services Christine Huajardo (who succeed Taylor, in a restructured position, midyear).

The district's bargaining team originally reached a tentative labor agreement with its teacher's union, the San Ramon Valley Education Association, on March 10 -- one day prior to the World Health Organization's declaration that COVID-19 had reached pandemic proportions. That agreement included a salary increase akin to the 2.56% that has since been extended to unionized classified workers as well as management and confidential employees and the superintendent's executive cabinet.

"What I've seen with our management and confidential employees, they've waited to last to make sure that all of our other employees have been taken care of throughout collective bargaining agreements. They've been waiting as long as any of them and longer than most of them," board member Ken Mintz said.

"Yes, there are management employees that are making more than teachers in the classroom, just like any other leadership structure there is increased responsibility and there is compensation for different levels of responsibility," he added.

During Tuesday's meeting board members said they received hundreds of emails from residents, many of whom took issue with the timing of the raise given that the Contra Costa County Office of Education had required that the district reduce expenditures by $8 million -- due to concerns about future structural deficits in the SRVUSD budget in light of costs from the salary bumps for unionized employees.

The county office submitted a plan to help the board reach this number that includes reducing certified employees by 34 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, eliminating 10 FTE classified employee positions, decreasing district business office expenditures, and reducing spending by the cabinet and individual school sites.

"CCCOE has serious concerns regarding the financial condition of the district, due to the additional ongoing costs proposed by the settlement agreements and the district's projection of a negative multi-year ending balance, being further compounded by developing economic events," Medici said in a staff report.

Comments

Michael Arata
Danville
on May 27, 2020 at 8:36 pm
Michael Arata, Danville
on May 27, 2020 at 8:36 pm
9 people like this

Reportedly, more than 300 e-mails and electronic "speaker card" comments related to this set of 2.56% raises were transmitted to the SRVUSD School Board or separately to individual Board members. Below is the comment I filed, now in very slightly amended form:

I recommend rejection and re-negotiation of the 11-month retroactive (but ongoing) base salary increases for Tier IV certificated and confidential employees, expecting to enlarge those salaries to a range of $226,486 to $357,832, while adding a new contract for yet another Assistant Superintendent — in the present case, an Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations and Facilities.

The extraordinary $357,832 figure is that of outgoing Superintendent Schmitt, who had to apologize publicly last month for the grossly irresponsible behavior of administrators and some still-in-place teaching staff members in the outrageously biased treatment of now former student Nathaniel Yu — an apology that was part of the large-dollar settlement with Mr. Yu and his family.

The present salary of California’s governor, reportedly the highest of any governor in these United States, is $210,000 for 2020. Mr. Schmitt, administering a school district rather than the nation’s most populous state, is to be paid nearly $148,000 more than the governor.

Additionally, every one of the administrator salaries under discussion in agenda items 10.1 through 10.5 already exceeds that of the governor.

Meanwhile, you are also considering how to reduce the coming academic year’s expenditures by some $8 million, due at least in part to the base-pay increases you’ve already approved — and coincidentally equal to the amount your insurers are paying as a settlement in the tragic death of Ben Curry.

The further context is a period of tremendous frustration and economic hardship for many or most families in the San Ramon Valley — i.e., the people whose taxes pay for the generous salaries and benefits of the School District’s administrators, teachers, counselors, and other staff personnel.

The salary increases at issue this evening, when the coronavirus pandemic has wiped out the livelihood of some and substantially diminished the incomes of many others, with unknown further consequences yet to come, represent yet another instance of shocking tone deafness.

If you vote to approve agenda items 10.1 through 10.5, you will place yourselves among the none so deaf as those who WILL not hear, and none so blind as those who WILL not see.

So again, I recommend rejection of the salary increases under consideration. The existing salary and benefit levels are already unduly and disproportionately generous.


Michael Arata
Danville
on May 27, 2020 at 8:49 pm
Michael Arata, Danville
on May 27, 2020 at 8:49 pm
2 people like this

The School Board also considered a resolution of support for the so-called "Schools and Communities First" Initiative, which will appear on November's ballot. This measure would remove Prop. 13 reassessment tax-limitation protections from California's commercial and industrial properties. I submitted a comment on this resolution as well:

I recommend additionally the outright rejection of Resolution 84/19-20.

At best, the resolution is premature, as was the case on February 11, when a previous version of the resolution was considered.

Prematurity is even more the case now than three months ago, as local businesses and their employees are all under exponentially more difficult circumstances now than then.

As is, some pandemic-affected businesses will never re-open. Others will do so with reduced staff and other trying circumstances, and hope they can somehow survive. The full extent of economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, let alone the impact upon physical and emotional health, is yet to be quantified.

Board Member Hurd was correct in her February 11 assessment of the situation, when she observed with grave concern (a) that California’s taxation levels are already among the highest in the country; (b) that Sunset Development and those who rent offices in that space — along with all the other commercial and industrial properties in the District, and including their employees — deserve your respect and consideration of their needs and concerns; and (c) that listening to the interests of “hardworking people that run businesses that pay the bills for their family, and also businesses that draw students to this community” is not “being rude, or irresponsible, or disrespectful.”

As is, California’s problematic business climate drives some job maintainers away and discourages some would-be job creators from locating here.

So again, I urge you to avoid the obvious, cynical tone deafness that would accompany your approval of Agenda Item 10.7 — that instead you vote NOT to approve that resolution.
-------------------------------
The 2.56% raises were approved, unfortunately. For now, the Board tabled the resolution aimed at undermining Prop. 13, however.


Parent and Voter
Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 7:58 am
Parent and Voter, Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 7:58 am
18 people like this

Definition of Oxymoron - 2.56% pay raise, as well as reduce district expenditures by $8 million.
The teachers deserve more than the raise that they received. They are the ones who interact and education our children day in and day out. Meanwhile the district leadership appears to be protected by the Board. It is time to identify these board members and remove them. They have made poor decision after poor decision with many of their hirings and their free spending of our tax money on these upper management hires.


Danville Mom
Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 2:09 pm
Danville Mom, Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 2:09 pm
11 people like this

More unnecessary administrative money being spent on (unnecessary) administration positions:

Sometime in the last two years, an SRVUSD "Executive Director" position was (unnecessarily) created for Human Resources under the SRVUSD Assistant Superintendent. (Initial MJ.) THIS POSITION DID NOT EVEN EXIST BEFORE AND WAS CREATED UNNECESSARILY WITHOUT ANYONE NOTICING, with that person receiving a promotion from "Director of Human Resources", directly under the SRVUSD Assistant Superintendent. (How did this just slip by? It's over $200,000 a year for more unnecessary administration costs and I have no comment on her abilities in that position.)

The SRVUSD Assistant Superintendent was ALREADY DIRECTING Human Resources. Why the sudden need for an "Executive Director" of Human Resources when the numbers in the school district are reportedly going down, with INTER-district transfers being allowed (from other school districts)? This person, in their newly-created Executive Director position, which DID NOT EXIST BEFORE ~2018, was already making $213,344 in 2017, as a SRVUSD Director of Human Services, according to Transparent California, including total pay and benefits. Imagine what this person is making now. Plus, the position she held before as "Director of Human Resources" still exists, of course, and that NEW person hired from Dublin Unified must be making over $150,000, as she was recruited from there with a salary there of $148,249 as a Director of Human Resources and previously principal there as well.


bb
Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 3:29 pm
bb, Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 3:29 pm
Like this comment

"I don't believe it would be fair to ask our principals and our assistant principals and our other administrators to not be compensated for this year," Hurd added.


Becky Bhatt
Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 3:33 pm
Becky Bhatt, Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 3:33 pm
7 people like this

"I don't believe it would be fair to ask our principals and our assistant principals and our other administrators to not be compensated for this year," Hurd added. Is she kidding? Ms. Hurd seems out of touch. Education is for the students, and the teachers are the ones doing the work with the students. They should make the most and those furthest away from classroom interactions/support should make less. The way we do it is backward. And to reward Schmitt for his abominable tenure is criminal.


C. R. Mudgeon
Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 4:10 pm
C. R. Mudgeon, Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 4:10 pm
6 people like this

In my 40+ years of working in the private sector, I never received a "retroactive" raise, let alone one that goes back 10+ months in the past.

The salaries paid to the district's management are ridiculously over-inflated. And of course they support the union when it is time for negotiations, since they are effectively working on their own raises. (The board doesn't have this direct conflict of interest, although there are plenty of more subtle "entanglements" with the union, whether it is in the form of campaign support, or even being the recipient of a pension as a former teacher or administrator.)

Oh well, pardon my cynicism. I keep forgetting that, as a taxpayer, my primary function in life is to ensure that our public employees are well-paid, both while working, and in retirement.


Michael Arata
Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 6:21 pm
Michael Arata, Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 6:21 pm
4 people like this

“Danville Mom” points helpfully to the “Transparent California” site as a means of viewing SRVUSD salaries and benefits. Here’s a link: Web Link. Keep in mind:

(a) that California’s public-sector compensation schedules are almost universally extortionate, as you will see if you check other examples of agency compensation;

(b) that the SRVUSD Board members posited what they called a “Me Too” understanding of administrative salaries as a rationale for once again increasing those salaries (though not Board stipends of $441 monthly).

(c) The administrator salaries were already grossly inflated; all of them were already higher than Governor Newsom’s salary of $210,000, before Tuesday night’s addition of another 2.56%;

(d) that when reviewing teacher salaries (i.e., the basis for the “Me Too outlook), taxpayers should keep in mind a 186-day work year versus the 250-day work year that is common for most who work for a living, and do the proportionating math. Current teacher salaries (prior to their 2.56% increase) are shown at Web Link

(e) that public-school employee benefits, including pensions, are themselves bountiful.

(f) that the context includes a need to reduce SRVUSD spending for the 2020-21 academic year by $8 million.

Additionally: the most recent <Transparent California> posting of SRVUSD compensation levels is for 2018. But a year ago, among actions taken by the SRVUSD Board, a 4.18% increase was voted in — like this year, retroactive to the previous July 1. The 4.18% administrator increases were approved on May 21, 2019. See Web Link and Web Link.

Like this year, last year’s Board vote was unanimous. The compounded effect of these two most recent retroactive raises is a 6.85% increase.

So again, this year’s tone-deaf SRVUSD increases occur while many area businesses and employees have seen their incomes reduced —and future livelihoods potentially altered or terminated — due to severe economic contractions induced by the coronavirus pandemic.

The East Bay Times will apparently post and print a related story tomorrow, entitled “East Bay school board approves management raises, despite looming cuts.” See Web Link.


Michael Arata
Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 6:28 pm
Michael Arata, Danville
on May 28, 2020 at 6:28 pm
Like this comment

I've looked a little more closely at last year's retroactive increase. The 4.18% increase then included 4.00% in ongoing salary increases and 0.18% added to the "Retired Employees Health Benefit Plan and Trust."


Michael Arata
Danville
on May 29, 2020 at 12:10 am
Michael Arata, Danville
on May 29, 2020 at 12:10 am
Like this comment

A correction: the 2.56% compensation increase is included in the teacher salary schedule posted at Web Link. It incorporates a 2.50% retroactive salary boost + and 0.06% added to the "Retiree Benefits Trust." Another 0.5% was added to the top “step and column” cell (F+75 credits + 25 years of employment).


Parent
Danville
on May 29, 2020 at 8:02 am
Parent, Danville
on May 29, 2020 at 8:02 am
24 people like this

The school board voted on each of the top executive raises so they could have given the principals and everyone below the raises and voted no on each of the top executives. Rick Schmitt and Keith Rogenski both are accountable for the extreme lawsuits that impacted the district. Rogenski is a bully and needs to be fired his history of denial of child abuse dates back to previous positions at other districts. Rogenski defended Becker just has he had defended "Allen-Caulboy who in her classroom had repeatedly abused children, some of whom are unable to speak" while Rogenski was employed in Antioch Unified School District. Allen Caulboy was convicted of child abuse after parents connected with each other and learned that Rogenski was protecting Caulboy. SRVUSD saw no problem with Rogenski and hired him from a . The parents of the children had to go to the police because Rogenski failed to contact the police to investigate their allegations of child abuse. Rogenski assured that parents they were dealing with their complaints never informing each parent that other parents shared in their concerns and of his duty to contact police on allegations of child abuse. The lawsuit resulted in an 8 million dollar settlement from Antioch School District. Rogenski fled to a Dublin school district only to be offered a much better paying job by SRVUSD in 2015. SRVUSD board members had no problem with an administrator that violated laws in the protection of a child abuser. He is slated to be paid $237,810 with the raise granted by SRVUSD board.


Diane
Danville
on May 29, 2020 at 6:58 pm
Diane, Danville
on May 29, 2020 at 6:58 pm
8 people like this

I’m grossly ashamed of the school district where I live. Your priorities are not of your students, as evidenced by the train wreck your upper administration, from Schmitt down, that you have rewarded. Retroactively no less. You are pathetic. Please, put no more measures on any ballots to increase the lining in your pockets, I. Vote. No.


Michelle
Blackhawk
on May 30, 2020 at 5:50 am
Michelle , Blackhawk
on May 30, 2020 at 5:50 am
2 people like this

Michael- thank you, agree 100%! Will you please run for school board? We need people like you advocating for our community and students. Change will only happen with a change in board members as they obviously aren’t listening to the parents. How do we get this rule changed where (already overpaid) management gets the same raises won by union members?? Complete insanity! That isn’t the case in any other profession and should definitely not be the case in public education.


Michael Arata
Danville
on May 30, 2020 at 1:52 pm
Michael Arata, Danville
on May 30, 2020 at 1:52 pm
Like this comment

Thanks for your compliments, Michelle! A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a successful chemistry teacher and swim coach, for 20 years. I began paying attention to school governance and its community-delegated authority — along with school curricula — when the teacher union in my district went on strike.

I had previously been a union member for a short time but had then quit (a year before the strike) after I discovered the union’s politics and what my dues payment was helping to support.

After a week in which teacher unionists behaved like juvenile delinquents, their local president stood up a board and community meeting with hundreds in attendance, and complained, “All we ask is to be treated as professionals.”

That was the moment which energized my interest and involvement in school politics, even during my final eight years of teaching. Swim coaching eventually brought me to California, but weakened academic standards, immoral and politically driven curricula, and the suffocating effect of teacher-union strangleholds here dissuaded a return to the classroom. So I then undertook what became a 28-year second career, in industrial water treatment.

By 1984, the radical California Teachers Association (CTA) had already published a manifesto, “Guidelines for Academic Freedom in the Public Schools,” in which their leaders defied common American values: “Who dares take on religion, free enterprise, patriotism, and motherhood? We do — and we must!” (p.32) Meanwhile, California teacher unions and their Democrat shills in the state Legislature have strengthened their hand further.

I debated CTA’s executive director at the Commonwealth Club in 1993, on the topic of school vouchers — because as I’d written editorially in so many words when I was still a teacher (in an editorial entitled “Better Schools, Not More Taxes”), genuine school choice is a both a necessary and a sufficient condition for real school reform.

At one point in the debate, I said that if California schools and their unions were doing their job effectively, hundreds of thousands of the state’s parents wouldn’t have needed to purchase “Hooked on Phonics.”

To my astonishment, the CTA director, red-faced and sweating noticeably, answered that it had taken 100 years for California schools to reach their then-current state, and it would likely take another 100 years for schools to recover. The debate was essentially over.

The San Ramon Valley Education Association (SRVEA) effectively runs SRVUSD — and has done so since their chosen and well-financed puppets took control of the school board in 1990 after a teacher strike, winning CTA's “Joyce Fadem Chapter in Politics" award for its orchestration of a Board recall and union-candidate takeover.

SRVEA’s own new 2.56% raise, adopted on March 24 (the same evening that coronavirus-driven school closures and distance learning were approved) now itself costs SRVUSD $4.16 Million per year — in the context of shrinking enrollments and an $8 Million budget-increase shortfall. CSEA union contracts add another $1.04 Million in costs. The new SEIU and management contracts together add roughly another million dollars.

I haven’t yet discovered liability-insurance costs or other SRVUSD final expenditures in the tragic Ben Curry case or in SRVUSD’s settlement for its irresponsible, biased treatment of Nathaniel Yu.

As soon as SRVUSD’s management and school board sense sufficient economic recovery and renewed inattention by taxpayers, they will seek a parcel-tax increase and/or large new school bond.

And unfortunately, I haven’t sensed a critical mass among school parents and other taxpayers to effect a change in school governance here. SRVEA still needs only to threaten a strike in order to win substantial (though unwarranted) further concessions by its union-friendly school board.


Anonymity
another community
on May 31, 2020 at 8:01 am
Anonymity , another community
on May 31, 2020 at 8:01 am
Like this comment

School boards across the country become puppets of the union, even if they were elected by the public.

I am from another community, but even I am outraged by how bloated your public administrators' salaries are. Unfortunately, bloated salaries, inept administrators, and raises that come at the expense of public services are not limited to Danville and San Ramon.

I think we all as California citizens need to protest to our state elected officials. Public salaries should be capped, just as many private sector salaries are. No raises if there is a budget deficit. Period.


Parent
Danville
on Jun 1, 2020 at 9:46 am
Parent, Danville
on Jun 1, 2020 at 9:46 am
16 people like this

Schmitt salary history shows that he is going to end up with an increase of 12% from 2018 vs 2019. His new retro-active 2019 salary is $357,832 his total salary in 2018 was $319,374.00. His salary increase is $38,458 per year compare this with a teacher making $100,000 will only see an increase of $2,560 per year. Schmitt is getting 15 times the increase in dollars a teacher in the district is getting. Schmitt is accountable for two lawsuits because he allowed are children to be abused and die yet the school board granted him a 12% increase in pay for 2019. This is proof that Schmitt was not held accountable as a leader in the district by our school board. The buck does not stop with Schmitt it goes directly into his pocket.

SRVUSD board said "we are all in the same boat" Schmitt is in the yacht sailing into the sunset and the teachers are in a dingy sinking fast.


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