Piedmont USD - Week 14 Update
November 6, 2023
Dear Piedmont USD Families,
The time change is here, and the holidays are not far off. This week's newsletter will provide an update on the following topics:
- Comparing Compensation Across Districts
- Instructional Calendars - Update
- Increasing Resident Enrollment
- News & Notes
Jennifer Hawn, Ed.D.
Comparing Compensation Across Districts
Over the last several weeks, I have received questions related to the salary increases in other districts. A common question is, “How are other districts able to give such large raises”? This question is a useful starting point for comparing compensation in other districts. However, in order to truly compare one district to the next, you have to look at how each district structures its compensation. For example, some districts do not offer health benefits, instead choosing to add all of their funds into salaries. San Leandro is one such district that shows high salaries, but no health benefits to employees. Another factor is whether or not a district is funded through state or local property tax revenue, called “Basic Aid” districts. There are about 100 Basic Aid districts in California, and their funding is astoundingly high. For example, Palo Alto is a Basic Aid district, with a top annual salary of $154,336 per year for teachers. We all wish we had the funding that Palo Alto has for salaries. Another key factor is the number of days a staff member works in a school year, which can differ across districts. For example, PUSD teachers work 185 days per year, whereas San Leandro teachers work 186 days per year. The details matter.
Also important when comparing compensation is to look at the actual years of multi-year compensation settlements. For example, Sausalito-Marin recently approved a 13% raise over three years; however, this increase applies to 2022-23, 2023-24, 2024-25. If we apply the same years, PUSD’s offer is higher: 2022-23 - 7.5% (+$1,500 one-time), 2023-24 - 2%, 2024-25 - 4% = 13.5% total increase. The details matter.
Looking at comparable compensation is important, but one has to compare “apples to apples”. To accomplish a true comparison, APT members and PUSD administrators, including one Board member, recently came together to update our “Standards & Criteria” report, which had not been updated since 2006. This APT-PUSD committee decided on comparable districts and a formula for how to make true comparisons. The committee selected 19 non-Basic Aid districts of similar size or nearby location. In order to account for the differences in number of work days per year and whether or not the district offers health benefits, a formula was agreed upon that results in a comparable daily rate. This daily rate is the true comparison that helps us understand how we actually stack up against comparable districts. Piedmont is currently #8 for teacher compensation out of 19 districts. Even before our current 3-year offer of 9%, we are above the average, with the goal of moving up on the list.
I have also received a few questions regarding San Francisco USD’s recent settlement, with a $9K one-time for 2023-24 and a 5% raise starting in 2024-25. If we apply our formula, San Francisco USD’s daily rate is $743 versus PUSD’s higher daily rate of $745, and with our multi-year offer of 2%, 4% and 3%, we will likely remain higher than San Francisco USD. The details matter.
I will close by noting that our #8 slot out of 19 districts is just a starting point for PUSD. We are also concerned about our staff in hard to fill positions, such as School Psychologists and Speech Language Pathologists. These are high-need positions that are likely lower on this list of 19 districts, and we recommend increasing the pay scales of these unique positions in order to be more competitive. We are committed to offering our staff the most competitive compensation we can afford, with the goal of moving PUSD up on this list of 19 districts. Check out the list of districts below.
Instructional Calendars for 2024-25 & 2025-26
The instructional calendars for the next two school years are on the Board agenda for a first reading at the November 8th Board meeting. Below is a summary from Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, Ariel Dolowich, on the process for developing the instructional calendars.
The Instructional Calendar is a negotiated “working condition” included in the collective bargaining process between the District and Association of Piedmont Teachers (APT). As part of the Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) process the calendar is negotiated separately from the annual openers each year.
The Calendar Committee is required to develop 4 viable versions of calendars for APT members to vote. One calendar must replicate the current calendar in use and there must be 3 additional calendars. By contract, there must be one teacher workday in both August and June and the length of each semester must be relatively equal. The selected calendar will receive greater than 50% vote from APT members. In the case that a calendar does not receive over 50% vote, there will be a run-off vote no later than the last school week of November. The Board must receive the results of the APT vote prior to the December Board meeting.
Background and Context
With the exception of the pandemic, the district has adopted a calendar that shifted the school year at the secondary level; namely, the first semester (and high school finals) have ended before winter break (rather than in January). The primary goal of shifting the end of the 1st semester to December was two-fold: 1) to increase student retention of material for culminating projects and assessments; 2)reduce stress for students by providing a work-free winter break.
The Instructional Calendar includes setting the first and last day of school for students, non-school days for students that are either vacation or designated professional development days for staff. The setting of the semester length, report card grading periods, minimum days, conference days, and testing schedules are not subject to negotiations and are set after the Instructional Calendar is voted and approved by the APT membership and the Board of Education.
The Instructional Calendar adheres to the following requirements from the state:
●180 school attendance days
Funding from the State is calculated based on the attendance rate of students on the designated 180 student days in the calendar.
● Each grade level must also offer a specified total minimum number of minutes in the 180 days.
● Each grade level at each school must offer the equal amount of total minutes in the school/District (e.g., all third grades in each of the three elementary schools must offer the same total minutes per year).
● Prescribed holidays included as part of the calendar with some flexibility when scheduled, except November 11, which is an “immovable holiday” and must be a non-school day if it falls between Monday and Friday.
● Per local agreement, the APT base work year of 185 days that includes 180 student days, 3 professional development days and 2 work days.
Process to Determine Recommended Calendar
As part of the calendar development process, APT membership developed a variety of Instructional Calendar options; a district representative and CSEA member provided input into the process. The four calendars for consideration included:
Option 1: A calendar similar to the current 2023-24 calendar year
Option 2: A slightly later start date (1st Day of school for 2024-25 school year: Aug. 12)
Option 3: A calendar with ‘Frequent Breaks’; starts the same as the current calendar, ends a week later
Option 4: Wrap-Around calendar, which starts much later but also ends much later.
During APT’s election process, Calendar Option 2- 2024-25 and 2025-26 was approved by APT after receiving more than 72% of the votes.
The recommended 2024-25 calendar highlights include the following:
● Work Day on August 9
● First Day of School - August 12
● Full week break during Thanksgiving week
● End of 1st semester - Dec. 20
● Professional Development Day on January 7
● Full week break in February
● Flex Professional Development on March 14 (no school for students)
● Non School Days for students and teaching staff on October 14 and March 17
● Spring Break: Second week of April
● End of 2nd semester - June 5
● Work Day on June 6
The District and APT gives consideration of input received from parents & guardians. Parents and guardians received a calendar survey which resulted in a total of 488 responses.
Surveys of PUSD families demonstrated strong support for ending the first semester before the Winter break. In the most recent survey, 67% of District parents indicated that their “strongest preference for the timing of first semester finals” is before the break. This aligns with a district goal to support the social and emotional needs of students by reducing student stress. This structure provides students with the opportunity to spend their vacation time relaxing and recharging, and start the second semester rested and refreshed.
In written comments, PUSD families also expressed strong support to begin the school year later than the current calendar year (and thereby extend the summer). Many families expressed an interest in the importance of summer campus for their children and to enjoy more summer days in August with their family.
Increasing Resident Enrollment
All of our schools are now offering tours, and we are updating our websites to publicize this information. We are also exploring marketing materials to distribute to provide additional awareness of our schools. We have a variety of ideas on the works, and a special thanks to our Superintendent's Advisory Council subcommittee for their work on a variety of strategies to increase our resident enrollment.
If you know of families who want to learn more about our schools, please share this link for more information. Thank you!
PUSD News & Notes
Native American Indian Heritage Month - PUSD and the CDE recognizes November as National Native American Heritage Month. To our Native American Indian students, staff and families, we honor you now and ALWAYS.
Piedmont Portal - For all of the latest school and community events, please visit the Piedmont Portal linked HERE
National School Psychologists Week - The CDE recognizes November 6-10th as National School Psychologists Week. To our School Psychologists, we recognize you this week and ALWAYS!
Veterans Day - November 11, 2023 - Holiday. We honor our military veterans now and ALWAYS!
Witter Field Renovation Project Updates - For updates on the Witter Field Renovation Project, please go to our Facilities page on our PUSD website.
Community Pool Construction Update - Safety measures around the Community Pool Project construction site on Magnolia Ave. across from PHS/MHS are currently in effect. Visit the City of Piedmont's website for details.
Work for PUSD - PUSD is seeking candidates for a variety of positions. Visit the District's Edjoin page for a complete list of jobs available and to apply online.
Substitutes Needed - Support students while earning up to $200/day. PUSD seeking substitute teachers for the 2023-24 school year. Visit the District's EdJoin page for more information and to apply.
Archived Piedmont Pulse Newsletters - All editions of the Piedmont Pulse are linked HERE
Follow PUSD - Please read our school newsletters sent out weekly for update to date information. The District Facebook (@piedmontunified), Twitter (@piedmontunified), Instagram (@piedmontusd) and Threads (@piedmontusd@threads) pages are active.