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Possible classified staff reductions on Tuesday's school board agenda

Original post made on Apr 13, 2010

At Tuesday night's regularly scheduled meeting, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District will likely decide to reduce hours or eliminate some positions for the classified staff.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 12, 2010, 6:59 PM

Comments (27)

Posted by Teacher In District
a resident of Danville
on Apr 13, 2010 at 9:31 am

I always (cynically) chuckle when I read these reports because they are so incredibly vague. As a teacher, I keep receiving information from the district about the jobs that will be lost...and then, thankfully, I receive more detailed information from the union. For example, where are the classified staff cuts taking place: at the schools (where they are desperately needed) or at the district office (where we have 17 people in human resources for about 2200 district employees...that's a 1:129 ratio. If anyone reading works in business, then you know that the ratio of human resource to employee ratio is closer to 1:700. Why isn't anyone in the media or the community asking the question: WHY ARE THERE SOOOO MANY WORKERS AT THE DISTRICT LEVEL???)

Also, the article stated that two administrators would lose their jobs. What administrators? The article stated specifically that two vice principals will be laid off so where are the other admins coming from? At the district level? And what positions EXACTLY will be cut? If the article is referring to the Math/Science coordinator, Stan Hitomi, then the public should know that his salary wasn't even paid for by the district last year. He wrote a grant to cover his own salary so he wouldn't lose his job last year. So, if he is being laid off, how is the district saving money when they aren't currently funding his salary anyway? And the other position? Is the article referring to Roberta Silverstein's position? She is retiring this year so the district is simply not going to fill her position. How is this really "cutting" jobs?

Please, it's all semantics. I have come to believe that the upper admin running this district is out to make money for themselves. The super earns $240,000 and the other assistant supers earn almost $200,000. The average percentage spending on upper admin has INCREASED during the past five years while the average percentage spending on credentialled salaries (teachers, counselors, librarians) has DECREASED in the past five years.

Think on that for a while, members of the SRV community.

Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Apr 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm

You really believe your union propaganda before anything else?? Amazing!

The motivation of the school board and top administrators is to provide an education to students of the community.

The motivation of the teacher's union is to provide jobs to their members WITHOUT REGARD TO MERIT.

Is that semantic enough for you? I know which motivational force I believe, and it's not the dollar based one.

By the way, your understanding of fundamental economics is abysmal.

Posted by Teacher in the district
a resident of Danville
on Apr 13, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Dear Rick,

I have provided you with information and you have personally attacked my understanding of fundamental economics. If I am to take you seriously, you will need to move away from the personal attacks and shift towards a more educational one. So, with that said, please explain to me fundamental economics (in lay-man's terms) and how it applies to my statement. In other words, stick to the facts.

You state that the admin and board's motivation is upstanding (they're only in it for the children) while the teacher union's motivation is despicable (we're only in it for the money). I can't even begin to tell you how wrong you truly are. The only thing I can think of when I hear that kind of talk is that somewhere along the way a teacher said, "no"; and, that wasn't the answer one was hoping for. It's human nature to think everyone is great when they are in agreement with oneself. And the flipside is also true...others are wrong, evil, unreasonable (fill in the adjective) when they disagree. The scarier thing to consider is that this is the attitude that creates situations like what is making the news regarding the general publics reactions to politicians who don't share the same views as others. We are losing respectable discourse.

But I digress...

Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Apr 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm

To "Teacher in District": It is ironic that you choose to attack the "Super" and "Assistant Supers", while praising your beloved teacher's union. Fact: The "Super" and "Assistant Supers" do not hide behind a union that protects them for life after two years, despite how poorly they perform, unlike you. If they fail to perform, they can, and will, be removed. The free market, capitalistic, American system, applies to them, like us parents who pay your salary through ever increasing taxes. Fact: Most parents in Danville are getting fed up with the teachers union unrealistic demands in this horrible economy. Fact: Your personal attacks on those employees who do not hide behind their union protection, adds to the growing alienation parents feel with your beloved teachers union. Spend your energy being a better teacher, doing more with less, like all of us parents who work have had to do in this recession, and not attacking those who do not hide behind their union.

Posted by community parent
a resident of Danville
on Apr 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Wow, aren't we all supposed to be on the same side? Get past petty differences and think about the children that are involved.

Posted by Reader
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Apr 13, 2010 at 3:25 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Apr 13, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Petty differences? Let us know when you get mugged by reality.

Are the teachers thinking about the children? It doesn't seem that "Teacher in the district" is.

Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Apr 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Teachers union in San Jose Unified School District agreed to salary reductions and other reductions, due to economic situation, but yet I have never read one article about the our San Ramon Unified teachers union agreeing to ANY reductions in ANYTHING, but instead they simply keep lobbying for more parcel taxes, dropping the 2/3 requirement for more taxes, and other legislation that benefits the teachers union. I have lived in Danville for over 10 years, with broad circle of friends of all political ideology, and without exception, EVERY friend who has a student in the district has noted they are frustrated with teachers union clout and attitude. It also appears that we need 17 HR personnel due to parents increasingly complaining to the administration about problematic teachers, and teachers playing the union card, which creates the need for more paperwork and more HR personnel.

Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Apr 13, 2010 at 7:59 pm

"Reader": You are obviously the same poster who was "Teacher in District", which is disgraceful, and I am glad that Danville Weekly caught you in your fraud. If you are actually a teacher in the district, you are lucky you have your beloved teachers union to protect you, as I am sure you are as bad as a teacher as you are as a poster of different names. Shame on you, and this is a good example of why Danville Parents are not going to pass anymore of your parcel tax schemes.

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Danville
on Apr 14, 2010 at 1:58 am

How could a state which is 6th/7th largest economy of the world and an area/school district in one of the affluent neighborhood in the region have this recurring issue about education funding every year? Something is just not right. We moved into this area from other bay area region because of schools in the area, but since we have been here, all I have been hearing is issue about teacher layoffs, drop in one program or another. I feel my kids are not getting the right kind of education. I was deeply sadden recently when in one of my kids school they were passing out pink frosted cup cake to what it seems like a demonstration against pink slips that were passed out to some teachers. I don't know if it was done by some parents or PTA or teachers. In any case, I think it was not proper. Think about the kids and what went on their heads. I am sure some kids are probably going through layoff situation in their own household and they don't want to be more traumatized with such acts at school. I do feel bad for the teachers who were given pink slip and I just know how they must be feeling, but again think about the kids.

I also voted for the parcel tax last election for the sake of the kids, but now I do understand what the opponent of that parcel tax prop were saying. They were right - the district it out again extending their hand or reducing the level of education my kids are going to get. I think in such tough economic times, everyone should re-evaluate and reconsider all venues. That means Teacher's union should be considerate and made adjustments to their demands - The administrators should consider some cost saving including their own salaries and made adjustments in their expenses.

Let's put kids first!

Posted by Wonderin'
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 14, 2010 at 6:35 am

"At Tuesday night's regularly scheduled meeting, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District will likely decide to reduce hours or eliminate some positions for the classified staff."

I was unable to attend the Board meeting last night. Did the Board approve to reduce or eliminate any positions?

Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Apr 14, 2010 at 8:36 am

Dear Concerned Parent,

You really do need to understand that the affluence of district has nothing whatsoever to do with the level of school funding.

Posted by becky jean
a resident of Los Cerros Middle School
on Apr 14, 2010 at 10:03 am

Actually, the affluence of the neighborhood/district affects school funding in the following ways: Charging for registration. in this district it was almost $1000 to register my kids for school...this is not done in less affluent districts, as the money isn't there and I know the PTA would NOT EVEN BE ALLOWED TO ASK parents for money as registration fees in several districts. That is additional money for the district, Additional fees are charged for the music program, in my old district the music program was FREE to all students and instruments were provided as students were not expected to pay for their own to participate, that is a difference in incomes. All elementary students in this district are required to purchase their school supplies, my old district provided supplies as it could not be assumed that all students could/would purchase them and the district was high sensitive to singling out less advantages students. The district in question is in the Bay Area. This district does receive additional benefits which they neglect to mention when they bemoan their lack of funding.

Posted by becky jean
a resident of Los Cerros Middle School
on Apr 14, 2010 at 10:12 am

I personally respect teachers and want to see things well run. However, I have always felt it was VERY unprofessional and VERY unethical to involve the students in the salary/professional demands of the teachers. Teachers are placed in a position of authority in order to do their job. It is an abuse of that authority to preach for contract benefits to a captive audience. Adults throughout the state made the decisions on funding, children do not. They have no power and are very confused when some one cloaks a chair or passes out cupcakes or performs some other silly stunt. Very little kids might even think a teacher is dying....Children should not be used as pawns in contract disputes. For those of you who defend this, realize that they have no power, and for anyone who has ever had a job as a professional in the private sector, you do NOT whine at your customers re your personal issues if you wish to remain employed, even if your being laid off at the end of the week. BTW pink slips are a VERY stupid idea, as they are used so often and so widely that they have lost any credibility they might once have had.

Posted by Ralph N. Shirlet
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2010 at 11:58 am

Ralph N. Shirlet is a registered user.

[Post removed due to copyright infringement]

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Danville
on Apr 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Ralph, Thanks for the update!

"Other money-saving actions the district is considering include converting an elementary school into a parent-paid preschool"

How's that going to help? I think that is one dumb idea. In current conditions, I think the "preschool", "after school day care", etc. are all hurting. In current climate, even in a community where there are lot of "stay-home-parent", there are lot more people staying at home or semi-unemployed who are providing care to their kids and don't see a need for preschool or daycares.

Maybe the time has come for privatization of school system in this state, if not in this country. Yes, there are private schools out there also, but I am not talking about that. I am talking about school districts run by a non-public entity who would bid for managing and operating schools in the district. I hear that in some places the prisons have gone in that direction. That reminds me, I heard recently that in this state we spend more money towards our prison system than education systems. What's wrong with this picture? If you spend more money towards education, we would be created lot more educated kids who would not have to resort to crime and we wouldn't need massive prison system.

Posted by Teacher in District
a resident of Danville
on Apr 15, 2010 at 7:21 am

Dear Reader,

I implore you to consider reposting your comments...I never had a chance to read them. After all, you and I both know what you wrote was unique to you as mine was unique to me.

I know there are those who revert to ad hominem rather than argue facts and ideas but don't let that discourage you. Remember the bumper sticker: Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.

Very sincerely,

Teacher in the District

Posted by PC - Parent
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 15, 2010 at 3:54 pm

To: Teacher in the District -- I would like to summarize your arguments, and comment, to clarify the issues to be addressed.

Writer’s Point #1: Cuts should take place at the district level to preserve the service to the students at the school sites. Further, based upon the ratio of HR workers to employees, it appears that the cuts at the district level will not be as harmful to the overall service of the community (parents and children). I agree.

Writer’s Point #2: Writer asks who will lose their jobs at the administration level, as stated by the article. If the writer is correct that Stan Hitomi and Roberta Silverstein will not return, the argument is that the cuts are illusionary (semantic in nature compared to the direct cuts in the classrooms, removal of teachers). The writer appears merely to inquire if the cuts are of equal merit, “apples to apples” if you will, not illusionary cuts (administration) and real cuts (teachers). This matters because less teachers, counselors, and librarians equals less help for your children in their education. Seems like a fair question.

Question -- Has the district made a “true cut” if it does not rehire Stan Hitomi? Last year, the district did not pay his salary (an outside grant paid his salary)? Thus, the district does not decrease salary expense (based upon last year) by firing Stan. Conversely, one could say that Stan is a cut because they will not have to add his salary this year, assuming Stan lacks a grant (outside source of funds). Therefore, legitimate questions remains as to the sincerity in the district’s use of the word “cut” at the administrative level; the question that the “teacher” is asking does not seem to be superficial.

What about the second cut that the district promised? If the district does not hire a replacement for a retiring administrator, this would be a cut.

Yet, it brings up a more interesting question: can the district still receive the same services from current staff (minus the retired non-replaced employee)? If so, the district (and the public) will decrease their expense, while maintaining current services. Further one might ask, if the district can do that with one position, how many more can they fire and still maintain sufficient services in the district? As the “teacher” suggested, maybe, it is better to cut district employees rather than teachers, counselors, and Liberians because there is less of an impact on the children.

Still the core issue is whether the district is using semantics in their description of district/administration firing (attrition) to the actual firing of current teachers. “The teacher” merely asks whether the “administration cuts” are equivalent to the termination of full-time teachers that interacts directly for the benefit of your children. Again, this a fair question.

Writer’s Point #3: Here, the teacher inquires if the district has chosen wisely between increasing the salaries of the administrators, at the same time, they have chosen to decrease the percentage spent on teachers, Liberians, and counselors (your children’s helpers at school). The “teacher” questions: Whether the board would be delivering a better value to the community by making cuts at the district level rather than at the school level? If we truly care about the children, lets make the cuts where the public employees will be inconvenienced (longer wait time for answers on human resources problems), not at the level of the children (longer wait times for information on colleges, classes, etc.). What is better for the children: more counselors, teachers, and Liberians, or more administrators and human resource employees?

Posted by PC - Parent
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 15, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Dear Mr. Pshaw, thank you for your concern about our tax dollars; I always want the best value for each dollar spent. Better yet, the government should not take so much in the first place.

However, I am concerned with your ad hominem attack on “the teacher”, e.g., “You really believe your union propaganda before anything else?? Amazing!” Remember, to attack the “teacher” instead of his argument is a logical fallacy.

Therefore, let us examine your points.

Issue 1: Whether the “teacher” is using propaganda for his arguments?

As you know, propaganda is defined as misinformation, half-truth, insincerity (see Thesaurus: English (U.S.)). Here, the teacher used facts that are unlikely to be half-truths, misinformation, or hyperboles because of the legal ramification under the “fair employment practices,” in which the union is restricted in the release of its information during negotiations. These facts hold substantial weight. The “teacher” merely used an additional source for his facts (the union, which is intimately involved in the process – greater knowledge than even yourself). Thus, it appears that between your ad hominem attack and your comments about the “teacher’s” beliefs, you sir are the one that is “amazing.”
The motivation of the school board and top administrators is to provide an education to students of the community.

Issue 2: “Who has the most motivation to help our children, the top administrator or the teachers?”

Mr. Pshaw, as Adam Smith made quit clear in The Wealth of Nations, in general, our personal self-interest motivates us, whether at the level of the school board or as a teacher. If you accept this, as most thinkers have, the question is who has a greater interest in our children? The teachers who works with them everyday, and for them most nights, weekends, and (yes) even during their vacations, or the administrators, whose job it is to run a school district (in which the children are only a part of their decision making matrix)? I would conclude the teacher, who has dedicated their daily lives to those familiar faces (their students; their children) in each of their classrooms.

Posted by PC - Parent
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 15, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Dear American,

This retort is to your comment that the “Teacher in District” is “obviously the same poster” that the Danville Express rejected. Further, you find it “disgraceful” and “glad that the Danville Weekly caught you [teacher] in your [teacher’s] fraud”. This is a very serious accusation – near tortuous. One should have strong evidence to prove (or at least support) such bold attacks.

Excellent, I love a good catching of the bad guy (a good Perry Mason moment). So let’s examine your evidence. You state in a personal, unsubstantiated, declaration that it is “obviously” that the “teacher” is the same poster. Why? Because you say so? Evidence submitted! Stated another way, “Not guilty”; you provided absolutely no objective evidence.

Now, let me take the same amount of evidence you submitted and paint a different picture as to the poster: I could in fact surmise, and thus state it is “obvious” that you are the poster; that you fraudulently wrote twice to create the appearance that the “teacher” did this. You attempted, in this hypothetical, to create a situation to discredit the “teacher”.

This is obviously wrong – you would never do such a thing. However, using the same amount of evidence that you used to accuse the “teacher”, I could accuse you of obviously being the one that the Danville Weekly caught in a fraud, with you writing under two names. How ridiculous is that – I have no evidence. Yes, it’s as ridiculous, as your unfounded accusation against the “teacher”.
Yet, thank you for the reminder that one should always ask the question: “Why should I believe you?”

Posted by PC - Parent
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 15, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Dear “American” -- If I may take the liberty to summarize your arguments and respond – please clarify any mistakes that I have made.

(1) You find it ironic that the “teacher” attacked the “super” while praising his/her “beloved teacher’s union.” In re-reading the “teacher’s” post, he merely states that the district’s information is vague and that he is appreciative for the union’s additional clarifications. Beloved is never used. You have attacked a benign statement, added a hyperbolic adjective, casting a bias on the teacher. Are you intentionally using a rhetorical technique to create an appearance of bias by the teacher?

(2) You are mad that the “teacher” a union member (a requirement to work as a teacher in this district – thank the Democrats) because he criticized a non-union member (supers/assistance supers). You are persecuting him because he belongs to a group rather than attacking his ideas. As an “American”, you must understand the importance of Free Speech, i.e., “the market place of ideas”. The social equivalent of laissez faire (your precious America [actually early English] free market).

Moreover, your action of group persecution closely resembles the problems of the Sedition Act of 1798, in which the Federalists aggressively enforced the laws against members of the Republican Party. Federalists prosecuted Republicans because of their association to a group (Republican Party), much as you are prosecuting the “teacher” for being a union member (and not looking to his arguments).

Luckily, a great American, Thomas Jefferson, pardoned all those convicted, and Congress eventually repaid most of the fines imposed. I look to the readers of this publication to act like Thomas Jefferson and pardon the “teacher” from the rhetorical bias of “group association” that you have cast him, although he is force to join the union in order to work.

But, I thank you “American” for contributing to the “market place of ideas”. Look to the argument not the association, whether a union member or a non-union member. Good ideas are valuable.

(3) Parents in the district are getting fed up with the teachers union. I agree. The union has failed to communicate that the teachers have worked without a contract for the last couple of years; that the teachers have taken a pay cut (given up their cost of living increases) to create a reserve fund, at the district, to be used in difficult budgetary times, such as now; that teachers routinely work hundreds of unpaid hours a year, like every other employee in the state. So yes, parents feel that they are not getting value from their teachers (employees). It is a shame because the teachers have contributed substantially, over the last several years, to fixing the financial problems of the district, without recognition by the community, which is the fault of the union because it has not shared (bothered) the community with its members’ contributions.

Further, this district, as a team – parents, students, teachers, administrators, and staff has created an educational powerhouse:
“SRVUSD currently ranks 6th among all unified school districts in California, and is the highest ranking unified school district in the state with enrollments of 9,000 or more (California Academic Performance Index, 2008). Over 94% of our graduating seniors attend college or university, and district students are accepted into the University of California and the California State University systems at rates far exceeding state averages. Furthermore, the district has been recognized for its excellence through such honors as the coveted State Department of Education's Distinguished Schools Award (schools in the district have received this honor more than 50 times, more than any other district in northern California), and through recognition by the U.S. Department of Education as National Blue Ribbon Schools.”

To all those parents that are part of this wonderful team – thank you. You do a great job. This district is successful because of us the parents.

(4) You want the “teacher” not to participate in this discussion but to “Spend your (his) energy being a better teacher, doing more with less.” I hope that you did not mean what was written, but instead, your mind was working faster than your fingers could type out a constructive solution rather than a insulting comment to a teacher, who you neither know nor understand his contribution to the children of this great nation. If not, shame on you, but I still thank you for contributing to the public discourse. It is the backbone, and tradition, of this great republic.

Posted by Larry
a resident of Danville
on Apr 15, 2010 at 5:24 pm

If more administrators were hired maybe it would be managed better.

Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Apr 15, 2010 at 9:52 pm

"PC Parent": Yes or no, are you a member of the teachers union? If yes, failing to "share" your incentive for "advocating" for the position of the "teacher in the district", shows a true lack of credibility and lack of objectivity. As to the assertion that "Teacher in District" was the same person who blogged under "Reader" and was caught by the Danville Weekly, the opinions of "Reader" fully supported the "Teacher in the District", while the other blogs, by myself, and by "Rick Pshaw", opposed the views of "Teacher in District", so logically we all know who was caught posting under two different names. By the way, your argument that the teachers union has "worked without a contract" for years, means nothing, as 99% of us taxpayers work without a contract. Why should somebody who gets every holiday off, gets every summer off, get a "contract" that us taxpayers are stuck with, while we do not have the same contractual protections? If your blogs were meant to be objective, they failed. You came across as an advocate, more concerned with supporting the teachers union, than honestly looking at others and their positions. Which brings me back to my first thought, you must be a member of the teachers union.

Posted by Teacher in the District
a resident of Danville
on Apr 16, 2010 at 10:36 am


I didn't write as the "Reader." It is completely illogical that you would argue that two people who have the same position on an issue that is in direct opposition to what you believe are supposedly the same people; but, it is perfectly acceptable to you that you and another blogger can write the same views and not come under your very own suspicion of being "one and the same."

Isn't it amazing what our brains will allow?

Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Apr 16, 2010 at 11:48 am

Look at the evidence. The Danville Weekly allowed my blog, and the blog of "Rick Pshaw", so clearly they were not the same person. The Danville Weekly noted they were omiting the blog of "Reader" as it was from someone who early blogged under a different name, and there were only 5 blogs in front of it, and your blog was the ONLY one that was supporting the teachers union. I rest my case.

Posted by John
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Apr 18, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Strategic planning is a critical component in every organization. The question is what outcomes are we attempting to achieve. If the goal is to meet state standards, then those students who desire an education which keeps them competitive with other students throughout the country will not be achieved. According to Greg Smith, Associate Vice-President of enrollment at Cal State East Bay, 20% of freshmen with a 4.0 or higher need some degree of remedial math, English, or both. College admissions has become significantly more competitive and MDUSD needs to keep those students in mind as well.

If we insist on teaching state standards, students who want to attend a top University are left in a difficult position. Those deficiencies are often reflected in lower SAT scores and fewer college options. Counseling at our schools has been reduced to substandard levels which reflects the districts priorities.

For parents and students who want to remain competitive in the college admission process, they may have to look to the private sector for help. It is what you don’t know that sometimes makes the difference. If you get a chance, check out

Posted by Alamoan
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 18, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Hey American, you say " Fact: Most parents in Danville are getting fed up with the teachers union unrealistic demands in this horrible economy". So, what specifically are these unrealistic demands, and what is the evidence that MOST parents in Danville are fed up with them? You emphatically state it as a "Fact" so you must have evidence to back up your claim right? Or are you just blowing smoke and trying to assert your own opinion as a fact held by the majority?

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