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July 27, 2010 > Hayward Unified School District Board Meeting Report

Hayward Unified School District Board Meeting Report

Alameda County Office of Ed rescinds Board-approved school calendar; Superintendent Janis Duran receives two-year contract

By Robin Michel

The Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) Board of Education was stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place at the July 21 Board Meeting, when Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) Superintendent Sheila Jordan and the ACOE Fiscal Advisor to HUSD cautioned the Board on one of two proposed 2010-2011 school year calendars, which contained 186 certificated work days.

The calendar, which is consistent with the current Hayward Education Association (teachers' union) contract, contains six teacher work days. According to Superintendent Jordan, passage of the 186-day calendar would put the district at fiscal risk. If the Board approved the calendar, she would have to exercise 'Stay and Rescind'-essentially vetoing the calendar in order to protect the fiscal health of the district.

Due to the state's precarious financial situation and the devastating cuts to education, ACOE has assigned fiscal advisors to nine of the eighteen school districts in Alameda County. "This is the first time I [may have] to use the 'Stay and Rescind' when I've [assigned] a fiscal advisor," said Superintendent Jordan. "Today you are faced with a decision that restricts your ability to be flexible in balancing the budget."

The 186-day calendar contained 180 days of student instruction, plus three teacher work days and three staff development days. In order to address the budget crisis, many districts throughout the state have decreased the number of work or planning and professional development days. These items are negotiated, and while the HUSD 186-day calendar stipulates that it is "subject to change based on final negotiations with HEA," the ACOE fiscal advisors warned that given the district's budget deficit, only a 180-day instructional calendar should be approved.

In spite of Superintendent Jordan's warning, Mercedes Faraj, HEA president, encouraged the Board to adopt the 186-day calendar saying that it was developed in good faith with the teachers' union.

A second calendar, which contained 180 days of student instruction and one teacher work day, was also up for consideration. This calendar too was subject to final negotiations. According to Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Donna Becnel, staff recommended on the advice of counsel that the Board only approve 180 instructional days.

"Do you know what the teachers do on that work day?" Ms. Faraj then described how teachers ready their classrooms far beyond the one day they might receive compensation. Trustee Luis Reynoso asked what impact the shorter calendar would have on the teachers' retirement. Becnel assured the Board that if a shorter work year was adopted, teachers would still receive credit for a full year of service.

It was painful to watch the Board struggle with this decision: to not approve a calendar that was jointly created with the teachers' union, or approve a calendar only to have the action rescinded by ACOE. After hard deliberation, Trustee Jesus Armas, who requested that both calendars be considered simultaneously, said, "We have terrible choices here. In light of what we have heard tonight from ACOE, I motion that we approve the 186-day calendar. If the ACOE Superintendent stays and rescinds the calendar, we then adopt the 180-day calendar."

The 186-day calendar passed, and was then rescinded by the ACOE Fiscal Advisor who assured the Board that ACOE would not take action on the 180-day calendar.

The Board also received a very thorough and comprehensive update from Superintendent Janis Duran on the Action Plan to implement and monitor Board Goals, noting that her presentation was a first reading and she would come back to the Board on August 25.

A first reading of Board Policy /Administration Regulation (BP/AR) 5141.2 Diabetes was also conducted by Chien Wu-Fernandez, Executive Director of Student and Family Support Services. A new policy for the District, BP/AR 5141.2 addresses diabetes management in order to ensure a healthy and safe environment for students and staff.

The Board also approved a two-year contract for Superintendent Janis Duran, effective May 12, 2010 through June 30, 2012. Ms. Duran was appointed Superintendent at the May 12 board meeting. The contract contains no medical or retirement benefits, a 30-day termination clause and no buy-out option. Trustees Jesus Armas, Maribel Heredia and Sheila Sims pointed out the inclusion of these safeguards and the cost-savings to the district by not offering benefits.

Without a buy-out clause as is common in large districts, noted Armas, this shows that Superintendent Duran "is here for all the right reasons."

Trustee Reynoso disagreed with the process and was outspoken about his displeasure of the contract, making allegations about his fellow board members, calling them a "lawless board."

Trustee Armas pointed out that Reynoso's comments were not factual and that the Board did everything in accordance with the law. He reminded Reynoso that personnel matters are discussed in closed session, with action reported out in open session; and that consideration of the Superintendent's appointment in closed session was publicized in accordance with the Brown Act and reported out in open session at the May 12 Board meeting, where Trustees Paul Frumkin and Heredia were assigned to a subcommittee to draft the contract.

Duran, a former superintendent of San Lorenzo Unified School District, came out of retirement in January to lead Hayward schools during one of the most challenging times in public education.

"This is a great contract that has minimized the district's exposure," said Heredia. "Thank you, Superintendent Duran, for accepting the offer."

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