Who’s the Rebutter?

Over the memorial day weekend, a few different people brought to my attention a website from PUSD that appears to be a rebuttal site to mine called Why Pleasanton?. I immediately searched the site on with the Wayback Machine and found an image of the site from May 11, 2023. I did not publish my website until May 16th, so I guess mine is actually the rebut to theirs, although I had started sending emails to FHS staff starting April 24th. In either case, both PUSD and myself seem to have been doing the same thing at the same time. It reminds me of a riddle. “You approach a fork in the road. One path leads to prosperity, the other to certain doom. Two wizards stand before you, one who speaks truths, the other only lies.” We have all heard this riddle, something about doing the opposite, but what question do we ask? You turn to one wizard and ask: “How would the other wizard respond to giving the teachers a cost of living raise?”

Since we are on the topic of lies, could you imagine being newly hired by PUSD under the assumption they are the highest paying district? You of course came to this conclusion based on the information provided by PUSD on their Why Pleasanton? website. However, when you arrive, you find out this is not in fact the case, that you have been misled by your new employer, and you have arrived in a fairly toxic environment where the teachers do not feel supported or respected by their administration. That would truly be unfortunate. I really hope the integrity of the district is better than this site.

Who actually pays the most?

The first chart presented on this fancy, new site shows the starting salary. PUSD’s salary is bolded and at the top, and the rest of the districts’ starting salaries are presented below in decreasing order, but PUSD is not the highest number on the chart, Dublin is, that seems misleading. Right next to it is one that is even more misleading. This chart presents the “ending” salary for a teacher in PUSD. I put ending in quotation marks because many teachers continue teaching beyond this maximum, and not all districts cap at the same number of years. In fairness, this chart is labeled the Step 20 salary, but it also says “Top of Career,” which is not true.

Teachers in PUSD are paid on a 20 year salary schedule, so every year they advance on the salary schedule and receive an annual experience raise until they reach 20 years of service, at which point they no longer receive experience raises. While the data presented here is truthful(ish), what it fails to mention is that both Dublin and Livermore are not on a 20 year salary schedule, they are on a 24 year salary schedule. The 24 year number is not presented here. It is $127,678 and $126,402 respectively. Both of these are higher than the maximum salary earnable by a PUSD teacher.

A more proper comparison. Max salary for Pleasanton is after 20 years of service, this is at 24 years for both Dublin and Livermore. The 25 year salary is based on the highest column for units.

Let’s move to the next row of, now false, information. Let’s start with the “Lifetime” earnings. I’m not exactly certain how they reached the number $2,520,727 because the spot at which teachers move-over on the salary schedule by submitting transcripts for secondary-college credits, so I will simply compare a career at the maximum unit level. (While most teachers don’t start at this level, they tend to get there quickly; if you have to pay for your raises, you might as well do it all up front to maximize the earnings over your career.) Over this 25 year time, between PUSD, Dublin, and Livermore, the total compensation is $2,670,017, $2,768,082, and $2,670,486 respectively. Again PUSD finds itself on the bottom. I put Lifetime in quotation marks because many teachers teach beyond this 25 year mark, maybe even 10 or more years beyond this, where they will be sitting at that maximum salary mark, and with both Dublin and Livermore having a higher max salary, this difference only grows bigger.

Currently about 25% of teachers in PUSD are at the 20 years of service salary level. For these teachers, they will never get another experience raise. The only raises they will receive from here until the end of their career are the cost of living raises that APT negotiates with PUSD. However, as I’ve shown on the other pages on this site, we do not receive cost of living raises very regularly, so our most experienced teachers get pay cuts every year, not raises. So when we received a 3.5% “raise” when inflation was over 8% in 2022, these dedicated teachers took almost a 5% pay cut.

Is it worth teaching in Pleasanton even for less money?

Moving on to the days of service: Dublin and Pleasanton both with 185 days, while Livermore has 186, not 187 as presented on the PUSD site (not certain how they came to 187, it’s just not true. The first line of Article 8 in the LEA contract is “The bargaining unit member work year shall be 180 student instructional days, three (3) bargaining unit member workdays, and three (3) professional development days, as restricted below, with the following exceptions: psychologists, nurse, and counselors.”). So DUSD is the same as PUSD and LVJUSD has one more work day for teachers to prep for the year, something we all do anyway. Good sell PUSD.

This next point has been a headache, more than anything: Hours in the Work Day. This ambiguous term is defined and redefined on a regular basis. What is our hourly rate? Well is that the per diem hourly rate or the certificated hourly rate, yup those are different. The first is our true hourly rate based on a 6.5 hour work day and how much each individual teacher makes (this number is different for everybody and reflects teachers experience. It is a fair hourly rate), the later is based on an 8 hour work day (8 hours because this way they can pay us less, less even than a sub). Yes, if we are asked to sub during our prep periods because they cannot secure enough substitute teachers, we are paid $50.68. A sub in PUSD is paid between $250-$300 per day. At the highschool level, this is for 5 hours of work, so a sub might be making $300 while if teachers filled that spot it would only cost the district $253.41, just a hair over the minimum cost of a sub to the district. Last year, this hourly rate was in the $48 range, so it was always less. So why did this happen? Well, during the pandemic, there was an extreme sub shortage, so PUSD basically doubled the sub rate overnight. There was also a teacher shortage, still waiting for my teacher salary to double. Anyway, I bring this whole situation up because it is another example of feeling the disrespect from PUSD management directed toward their dedicated teachers. Typically when employees work overtime, they make time and a half, teachers in PUSD just make half.

Let’s keep going. 4 Specialist Prep Support Periods! No way! That costs almost as much as (checks notes) one superintendent. Thank you PUSD, truly making a difference.

What about these other accolades?

Best District? How long do we expect this to last when we are no longer able to hire and retain the best possible educators. I hear Valley View has had a big week, losing 9 or more of their teachers to higher paying districts. This is over a third of the teachers at that site. I’m wishing them all the best. I know two high school teachers who send their children to Valley View. We need to ensure we are attracting and retaining! the best possible educators. PUSD quoted on their “Why Pleasanton?” site the website Let’s check out the ranking for Valley View. As you can see below, the teachers at Valley View receive an A. Nice work! How true will this be when at least a third of the teachers will be new next year? If I have 2/3rds of my students at an A, and the others are complete unknowns, I wouldn’t be very confident saying my students are all A students.

The rating for Valley View Elementary School showing their teachers are a level A.

Best places to teach? Where do you get that? I don’t remember being asked. I feel so fortunate to work amongst some of the best educators in the area, but I worry they won’t stick around. Why would they? If you can do the same job just a couple miles down the road, get more money AND get better benefits, who would stay?

Pleasanton students deserve the best. The best educators. PUSD claiming they can do more with less, not having a parcel tax, that’s great. PUSD used to pay the best, which is why they attracted the best educators. It’s just sadly no longer true. How long can it last?

Are they changing their narrative?

Over the last few weeks, the Valley View parent group has been doing a tremendous job applying pressure to the district office because of the huge loss within the Dual Immersion program. On the evening of June 6th, 2023, they held another meeting at Valley View with district management. At this meeting, a slide was shared by PUSD indicating a more truthful salary comparison between districts, shown below. Previously, PUSD was shown as the best; now it is rightfully placed near the bottom, when it comes to compensation. As for the “Why Pleasanton?” site, it has not been updated to reflect these changes, at least not on June 7, 2023. They did however change the ordering of the First Year salary. I mentioned previously that PUSD was listed at the top, even though it was not higher than Dublin, now PUSD is listed rightfully second with DUSD at the top, based strictly off the numbers presented in the website graphic (and we can see from the new graphic, that PUSD should even be lower). We are no longer allowing PUSD to push their narrative that PUSD is the best paying, and while they aren’t listening to solutions, at least they are acknowledging their lies. Everybody wants what is best for Pleasanton Students, and right now, they need to attract and retain the best teachers.

A graphic shown at Valley View Elementary Parent Meeting on June 6, 2023 indicating that PUSD is not the best paying district.