Me too

Our classified employees (CSEA) recently signed a tentative agreement granting them a 5.65% raise as well as improved benefits. I am very happy for them; their raise is well deserved. However, it might also seem smaller than what they truly deserve. That’s because this is only part one of their raise. Once APT signs a contract with management, CSEA will receive that raise as well: CSEA shall receive the same total percentage adjustment (not less than zero (0) without negotiating with CSEA regarding alternatives) that is uniformly applied to the APT salary schedule plus any portion of the negotiated adjustment that was re-directed by APT and the District for other purposes. The District and CSEA will meet to negotiate how the total percentage adjustment will be applied to CSEA.

CSEA isn’t the only group that has a “me too” clause. Our management also has a “me too” clause, at all levels. Let’s take, for example, the superintendent contract:

3.F. In an effort to maintain equity with other certificated and administrative personnel, the Board shall consider a salary increase each year of this agreement equal to the same percentage increase given to the administrative unit following Board approval of the increase in a regularly called meeting as required by law. Any such increase shall be effective on the same dates as granted to the administrative unit.

Let’s take this part by part. “In an effort to maintain equity.” Hahahahahahahahaha. What?! It would be truly unfair if the highest paid person in the district didn’t get the same raise as everybody else on top of all of their other raises. In fairness, they did update this contract language from the 19-20 contract (shown) to the 21-22 contract, and “effort to maintain equity” was removed. However, let’s dive into this:

Maintain Equity

Let’s take a moment and explore all of the ways the dicstrict head can get a raise.

1. The superintendent receives an annual raise of 3.5%. This is to emulate the “average” step and column increase that teachers receive. I do not know where this number comes from though. Teachers can only move up a column 4 times in their career. Also, if we look at the base salary to the max salary available to APT, over 20 years, this averages to a raise of 2.5%. Also, it is not uncommon for our fantastic, committed teachers in this district to work 35 years. For those lucky few, their average annual step column increase is just under 1.5%. This 3.5% step/column increase awarded to the superintendents also doesn’t require that the superintendent receives 15 units of postsecondary credit; we have to literally pay for our raises. (Prize of the week goes to the poor APT member that advances from Step 1 Column 1 BA<30 to Step 2 Column 2 BA+30 and receives a whopping raise of -$1. Yes that’s right: negative 1. Check it out below.)

A portion of the APT salary schedule for the 22-23 school year. Check out that fantastic raise from step 1 to 2 while advancing from <30 units to 30+ units.

2. Superintendents receive longevity bonuses. After 5 years, they receive a 2% raise, and after 7 years, they receive a 3% raise. It’s almost the exact opposite of what teachers get. When teachers get to year 12, their salary simply stagnates for a while, they don’t get the 3.5% annual step/column increase, they don’t get “longevity.”

3. Superintendents get compensated for masters and doctoral degrees attached to the administrative salary schedule (unlike ours). Currently this number is $2,055 and $3,425 respectively. Is a superintendent with a PhD more valuable to the district than a teacher with that distinction? Why don’t you check out their theses for yourself: Dr. Haglund, Dr. Nelson

4. Superintendents get the “me too” clause, already addressed.

5. Superintendents get full benefits (technically not salary or a raise, but still frustrating)

6. Superintendents can negotiate raises with the board whenever they like. Remember a couple years ago when they got a big raise out of the blue at the same time saying we don’t deserve a small raise. I believe the number they offered us was 0.27%. I remember.

7. The board can give the superintendent a bonus. Here’s the whole line: “3.D. The Board may consider a bonus based on performance.” That’s it. Just a “Here’s more money, Dr. D”

Now let’s talk about base pay. In the 22-23 school year, the superintendent base pay was $369,780. During the 19-20 school year, this was $298,225 (he probably got this huge raise post covid because of how stressful and hard that situation was), his initial base salary in 2017 was $265,000. So over these last 6 years, Dr. Haglund has seen a raise of 39.5% (this is 6.9% annual growth and that’s just base salary and doesn’t include the new benefits the superintendents enjoy). Over this same time frame, the highest cell on the APT salary schedule increased by 13.9%.

As this highest-in-the-district salary continues to grow out of control, I want to take a moment to explore what might happen after Dr. Haglund retires. My speculation is that PUSD will hire a new superintendent with a salary similar or higher to Dr. Haglund's final salary. This is counter to how teachers are hired: teachers retire at the top of the salary schedule and new hires start at the bottom (top and bottom might be the wrong words as the table increases downward, but you know what I mean). However, if we look, historically, at the superintendents in Pleasanton we see: Parvin Ahmadi’s final contract had a base salary of $223,844, Rick Rubino (remember him) had a starting base salary of $256,000, and again, David Haglund started at $265,000. This number is only going to grow; it won’t go down. This 3 superintendent change over is a salary increase of 5.8% annually, roughly on pace with what Haglund has been getting and my estimate for future growth.

Let’s first look at how superintendent salary compares to teachers salary assuming they both receive the same percent change every year. Let’s assume for this portion, that the average annual salary increase for APT is around 2% (over the last 20 years this has been 1.9%). We can see below that the superintendent salary, in green, is increasing “faster” than the highest cell on the APT contract, in purple. This is because the difference between exponential functions with equal growth rates is also exponential, in red. Even “fair” isn’t fair.

Superintendent Base Salary in Green assuming only APT “me too” raises, f(x), highest cell on APT in Purple, g(x), and salary difference in red.

Yet superintendent salary isn’t a growth of 2% per year. It is, at minimum, 3.5% per year, but in reality it is more, much more. Over the last few years it has been near 7%, on average. So what are the ramifications of this? We are poised to see a superintendent with a $1 million base salary within the next 17 years. This estimate below includes the average APT salary increase, the 3.5% step/column, and the 5 year longevity bonus (this is approximated for simplicity). It does not include the 7 year longevity bonus, the separate contract negotiations upper management occasionally does, or the bonus money the board decides to throw at Dr. D. This is an average of just under 6% raise per year. What will our 20 years-of-service salary 17 years from now be? $172,235. (I will likely be at Foothill 17 years from now, having sat at this step for the last few years, twiddling my thumbs, supporting 2 kids in college, watching my purchasing power decrease as inflation continues to rise faster than my raises.)

Currently the salary ratio between superintendent and max APT is 3; when Ahmadi left, it was 2.24, when Haglund started in 2017 it was 2.45. In 17 years it will be 5.8. This is not equity.

Fair estimate of Superintendent Base Salary in Green, f(x), highest cell on APT in Purple, g(x), salary difference in red, and $1 million dollar threshold in blue.

Looking at the above graph is amazingly defeating. Let’s say we, APT, is able to get a 20% raise this year, which we deserve based solely on recent inflation and the new money into the district, that will simply quicken the superintendent race to a million by 3 years. By the year 2037, the superintendent will have a $1 million dollar base salary; max APT salary will be under $200K. This is my prediction, and there is nothing we can do about it.

One more point: We have a superintendent and 4 assistant superintendents. The assistant superintendents base pay is roughly 70% of the head, so we roughly get 5 superintendents for the price of 4. Buy 4 get one free; that’s a pretty good deal if you ask me. Anyway, projecting out those 15ish years. We will now be paying $4 million dollars for superintendents plus their benefits, extra salary, etc. This alone is about 2% of the total PUSD budget. No longer a drop in the bucket.

Fair Share Bargaining

Although I am not on the bargaining team, I have heard rumors that management is pushing for a "fair share" raise program. The way they are intending to calculate this "fair share" is inherently not fair, because of course it isn't. They will take any new money, subtract out some targeted LCAP costs, and then multiply by our percentage of the budget. Then we would subtract out new FTE and step and column increases before finally breaking that down into what our raise would actually be. There are so many issues with this; here are two.

First and foremost. Nothing should be subtracted out before the percentage is applied. If it is, then we are no longer receiving that percentage of money, and year over year, our percentage of the budget will be smaller. As for the step and column and new hires. The step and column increases should roughly average out year over year, maybe one year we don't hire as many new people or have as many retirements, so that goes up, but the year after, we will have more retirements and more new hires, and that number will go down. Also, any additional FTE will come as a result of additional enrollment, and therefore we will receive additional funding from the state. I have no faith in our district to calculate any of this correctly, and in years where it goes down or the number of FTE goes down, would they credit us back with a bigger raise? I doubt it.

It is also convenient that management is pushing this now, after we missed out on the biggest COLA in recent history. If we begin a "fair share" now, we will always be behind. Always. Looking back at previous budgets, we can see that our "fair share" has been going down year over year. While our change has been consistently negative, management has been positive (see table 2 below). Currently teachers account for 38.49% of the total budget and 61.89% of the staffing budget, while 5 years ago, the numbers were 42.19% and 68.40% respectively. If we start "fair share" now, we will never recoup those losses. Let's not forget that upper management also now receives full benefits. That is not included in these percentages. I would have included additional data to see a better picture, but the SACS reports listed on the PUSD website in prior years are conveniently dead links. Side note: has anybody else noticed that the new PUSD website seems to be missing information that the previous site showed? How much money did we spend on this website? Hire somebody to put a fancy new face on a website, do half a job, collect a big paycheck, disappear into the night. Sounds about right for PUSD.

Percentage of Staffing Costs dependent on Total budget, staffing budget, and percent difference year over year of staffing budget. Teachers highlighted in Green. Management highlighted in Red. *Note the 2022-2023 numbers are projections as the year is not yet over. (See additional charts on the spreadsheet)

Management anticipated our Total Revenue for 2022-2023 school year to be $195,564,373. This was predicted at the end of the 2022 school year, before they knew about the extra money they would be receiving, and when we signed our contract for a 3.5% raise. Even with the raise, this year the district is spending over $2 million less on teachers than the year previous, despite them anticipating having an additional million dollars in total revenue. The 3.5% raise was a low ball for them either way.

Now we have more information though, and we know that the district's total revenue for 2022-2023 is not $195 million. It is actually $221,861,091, 13.5% more than they anticipated. Putting this all together, PUSD had the financial capability to give us a 17.5% raise using a "fair share" model where we only receive 38.5% of new money (our current percentage of total revenue).