One of the more interesting topics of conversation discussed by the Pasadena Unified School Board on March 23 makes for a really good example of why these meetings can become entrenched in time.
By Billy Malone
Action item 4) was the issue of a raise for APSA employees (Association of Public School Administrators). It was complex but interesting to see how differently the board members viewed employee compensation. It all went as follows:
APSA employees include principals, secretaries, administrative assistants, cafeteria managers, coordinators, LEARNs site coordinators, and more. Principals and assistant principals recently received raises from the school board. But that raise didn’t apply to all APSA employees.
In February, APSA employees gave public comment to the school board about the need for all APSA employees to have a raise, to be made whole. They discussed their jobs, duties that often extend to nights and weekends to assist their supervisors. They advocated for equity and inclusion. (See comments at 56:13 Board of Education Meeting – Feb 23rd, 2023).
On Thursday night Interim Director of Human Resources, Sarah Rudchenko introduced the item for a “salary increase for APSA.” It was signed by both the superintendent and the APSA President, Dr. Benita Scheckel.
After this introduction of item 57-P various trustees spoke and showed that the board was not unified.
Board member Kim Kenne began with a request to table the item because she wanted clarification pertaining to questions about exactly how much the contract personnel would receive as a result of the APSA raise. She wanted an updated salary schedule for contract personnel. Contract personnel include Chief Business Officer, Chief of Human Resources, Superintendent, etc.
Kenne felt that “the board was under the impression they (contract personnel) would get 5% and then it seemed like it was going to be 7% because the largest group of APSA…were getting 7% now I’m hearing it’s going to the 10%.”
Dr. Rudchenko clarified that legal advice was received that instructed them that the contract personnel would receive 10% as a result of the APSA raise “they would receive the full 10% based on their contract language that was put into place and voted upon.” Board member Velasquez said, “I would like to support the motion to delay until the April meeting.
An exchange followed:
Board President Richardson Bailey asked “What are we expecting to get from delaying this? Because when we left the discussion the last time the board had agreed to make everyone whole at 10%. By giving the ones who only got the 3% initially, 7%. Those who had gotten 5, give them 5%. Those who had gotten zero to give them 10%. That is what is represented here ‘for our approval.'” Kenne wanted the salary schedules included and talked about the changes caused by this agreement. Bailey responded, “Are you recommending that we change the amount that the chiefs would get? I’m just trying to understand why we are holding this up.”
Dr. Elizabeth Blanco, who was sitting in for Dr. McDonald, said, “It would not be legal to change the amount – the chiefs already agreed to a contract with us. I would expect the Board to know the contracts that are signed and given to us and respect them.”
President Bailey requested that the motion to table be removed so the board could move the item forward. Kenne wanted it to come back with the salary schedule attached. The motion to table was voted upon but only three voted in favor so the motion failed.
Bailey entertained a motion to approve the request and four voted to approve. The Motion to approve the APSA raises for the lowest paid workers was approved by a vote of 4-3.
The discussion continued. Board member Tina Fredericks: “Just to be clear, the raise is tied to the chief’s raises?”
Rudchenko: “No, these are the APSA raises. The chiefs are contracted. They have provisions within their contract.”
President Bailey: “We can’t change that.”
Board member Patrick Cahalan said, “The board did reach consensus in closed.” He is referring to a previous closed session.
President Bailey: “Yes.”
Cahalan: “And unfortunately, we can’t talk about closed. I do have issues with this. I can talk about what I talked about in closed. Since I’ve been on the board there’s been a concerted effort to move our negotiations towards not doing across the board raises.”
He said he agreed with board member Kenne and he was “somewhat surprised to renegotiate a year we had already settled.” He continued to add that he “didn’t vote for the APSA agreement last year. I feel like this agreement puts the board in a bad future bargaining position.” It is unclear how that would be a bad bargaining position considering APSA is not a bargaining unit.
The public comments from the February meeting indicated that the APSA employees omitted from the previous APSA raise for principals and assistant principals were discussing their low wages and that it is “difficult to live in the community we serve.” (March 23 Board meeting notice and agenda).
The item passed by a vote of 4-3:
- Voting Yes:
Patrice Marshall McKenzie, Tina Fredericks, Jennifer Hall Lee and Michelle Richardson.
- Voting No:
Patrick Cahalan, Kimberly Kenne and Yarma Velázquez.
[This article has been updated to clarify how the voting went. March 28, 1:30 pm.]
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