School board reverses course, approves agreement with teachers’ union


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The board deliberated on the tentative agreement during the June 30 meeting.

The Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees has signed off on a tentative contract agreement with the Dublin Teachers Association (DTA) for the 2020-21 school year, following a particularly tense week in the school community.

The conditions of the agreement, negotiated by the district and the DTA and ratified by the DTA in May, included a retroactive 0.5% increase on the salary schedule for the 2019-20 school year and a 3.125% increase for the 2020-21 school year. It also contained a $40 hourly rate for certificated staff and a new salary schedule for specialists, according to Diane Manske, interim assistant superintendent of human resources.

The agreement was initially denied in a 3-2 vote at the June 11 board meeting. Board President Dan Cherrier and Trustees Gabi Blackman and Catherine Kuo cited state budget uncertainty, wanting to wait until more information was available before committing to the contract.

In weeks following the initial vote, members of the DTA vocally condemned the three trustees on social media. Superintendent Dave Marken abruptly announced his resignation on June 23, prompting some community members to blame the three trustees for driving out a well-liked superintendent. Petitions with hundreds of signatures have been circulating — one calling for Cherrier, Blackman, and Kuo to resign, and the other reaffirming community support for them.

While the vote to reconsider and then approve the tentative agreement on June 30 was unanimous in light of new information about the budget, Cherrier, Blackman and Kuo took the chance to clarify why they cast their rejection votes at the June 11 meeting.

“The path forward two weeks ago was not doable and it was high-risk,” Blackman explained. “I’d like to thank (Gov. Gavin) Newsom for actually working with the legislature to come up with a plan that works for our schools.”

She then addressed Dublin teachers, saying: “I stand by you always. We didn’t decline the tentative agreement because of anything you did, it had nothing to do with you. It merely had to do with state funding being withdrawn and putting the board in a very difficult financial situation. As a board it is our job to make sure we have healthy funding … I’m thrilled to see that there’s better financing now.”

Trustee Amy Miller, who had voted along with Vice President Megan Rouse to approve the agreement two weeks ago, disagreed. She insisted that she and Rouse were “in no way being financially irresponsible,” and that they truly believed that they had enough information to approve the tentative agreement three weeks ago, even if the path then was less obvious.

Cherrier echoed Blackman’s sentiments, emphasizing that the board “has a responsibility to keep this district financially solvent” and reaffirming that their previous decision was not meant as a reflection of anything that staff did wrong.

Public comment on the item reflected community tension, with some comments harshly criticizing the initial vote of the three trustees and some comments commending them for “asking the tough questions” and expressing that the “smear campaign” against them was inappropriate.

Following their approval of the agreement with the DTA, the board approved another item to extend the same salary increases and other key provisions in the agreement to all other employee groups.

This article was first published by the Pleasanton Weekly. To read the original story presentation, click through this link.