News


Teachers, district share 'exploding' health costs

Teachers get higher health co-payments, no pay raise

Entry-level teachers in Palo Alto will continue to earn $51,422 a year under a union agreement discussed by the Board of Education Tuesday night.

School district officials and union representatives said they have reached agreement on contract items that address the "exploding cost of medical insurance" through a shared effort of increased co-payments and other insurance adjustments, including an opt-out plan for retirees.

The district's two bargaining units did not seek pay raises this year, but had hoped to avoid any increase in medical co-payments. The unions are the Palo Alto Educators' Association, representing teachers, and the California School Employees Association, representing non-management staff.

The district's average contribution to health and welfare benefits jumped from $12,125 per employee to $12,865 per employee.

Beyond that, the district contributes another 12.5 percent of an employee's salary to the State Teachers Retirement System and Worker's Compensation funds, according to assistant superintendent Scott Bowers.

The district's teacher pay scale is based on seniority and education levels.

For example, a teacher with seven years' experience and 60 units of graduate work earns $74,753. An experienced teacher with 20 years of service and 90 graduate units makes $97,666.

The maximum teacher salary in Palo Alto, for a teacher with 30 years' experience, is $103,836.

In addition, teachers with master's or doctoral degrees receive an annual "stipend" of $1,982 and teachers who earn national board certification earn annual stipends of $2,571.

"It isn't a joyful year when we can't offer a salary increase," school board Chairman Barb Mitchell said.

"While we were able to do a 2.5 percent increase last year, for the average teacher that amounted to $36 a week. This is not Goldman Sachs territory we're coming from."

Comments

Posted by pleb, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Wow, what a difference to the recent union negotiations.


Posted by Citizen, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Why would you write a story about teacher pay and not mention the pension levels for people with 20 or 30 years experience? Its not like the media would ever write a story about CEO pay and not mention options and restricted stock.


Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 12, 2009 at 11:14 am

Well if the teachers had torched the schools and then left with golden parachutes and such other "benefits" I'm sure it would be on the news.

But, speaking of retirement....why isn't the school district on board with the new price fixing regime? Aren't they expected by their peers to also be cutting the pensions or deferred comp contributions?

Meanwhile some unionized workers make headway even in a recession...

CHW unionized nurses (CNA) achieved a 20% raise over 4 years and NO take backs as regards health insurance (hopefully someday irrelevant if we can ever adopt a Canadian style system!)

with predictable results..

Web Link

And people say "unions once had a role"......

Imagine what would be happening to city workers, teachers, etc., if no union were in place. Just look to Alabama, Miss, AZ, etc. "right to work for nothing" states.


Posted by Congrats Teachers!, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 12, 2009 at 11:32 am

Gosh, you are right ANoun..I surely hope we can go Canadian one day! That would be awesome! I am sure you have spoken with all the ex-Canadians here who miss their health care choices back home SO much that they can't wait to go home! They are, alas, imprisoned here, unable to return and trade the misery of America for the joys of Canada.

Yup...DO look at those and all the other right to work states, .but please don't move there and mess them up! Their unemployment is lower, their States are not facing bankruptcy, and somehow, amazingly, all of them have better outcomes in educating their kids than we do!

Teachers here are pretty smart, from the looks of this outcome. Congrats Teachers!! I am impressed and suddenly a lot more on your Union's side than I, frankly, used to be. Thanks! Nice to have some good news coming out! You give me hope that the rest of this State will wake up.


Posted by Interested in Education, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 12, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Doesn't 'raise' mean increase the Step-and-Grade matrix used to calculate teacher pay? Won't every teacher, with another year's experience, see more $$ in their pay checks next year even if there isn't a 'raise'?


Posted by Poor Public Education, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 12, 2009 at 12:35 pm


"Well if the teachers had torched the schools and then left with golden parachutes and such other "benefits" I'm sure it would be on the news."

Well, teachers haven't "torched the schools", but the quality of our graduating students (and our teachers, IMHO) has certainly gone way down - certainly nothing to be proud of!

More pay and benefits! Lower expectations, accountability, and results! Kind of sounds the same as what the corporations have done to me...


Posted by Steve C., a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 12, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Too bad they didn't get camping privileges in the school parking lots as well, then they could afford to actually live in the area.


Posted by pleb, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2009 at 2:40 pm

"But, speaking of retirement....why isn't the school district on board with the new price fixing regime? Aren't they expected by their peers to also be cutting the pensions or deferred comp contributions?"

Because they sat down and talked, understood the situation and didn't demand to keep everything in light of the current climate and future blow-outs. Huge difference to the confrontational attitude adopted by SEIU. Which group is likely to maintain or increase their community support? SEIU burnt a lot of bridges.


"CHW unionized nurses (CNA) achieved a 20% raise over 4 years and NO take backs as regards health insurance..."

Look around you: Web Link


Posted by Jeff, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 12, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Will the teachers' unions demand tort reform, so that medical costs can begin to turn downward? Or are they in the Dem camp with the trial lawyers?


Posted by Joe, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Nov 12, 2009 at 3:28 pm

This is a misleading report. Why no include all the benefit when report a teacher's salary, so people can have a better idea of the whole picture? Let's not forget that teachers only work less than 200 days a year


Posted by Not so fast, bub, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 12, 2009 at 4:26 pm

"all the benefit when report a teacher's salary" you're no doubt referring to the country club memberships. that irks me, too.

Good teachers put in very long hours when you take into account prep time, and use much of their summers to prepare.


Posted by Good Public Education, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 12, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Poor Public Education:

I don't know where you get your information, but if you look at the district website and examine SAT scores and other school testing data you will see that kids are FAR MORE INTELLIGENT, as measured by these tests, than PAUSD kids used to be. IMHO parents and the kids deserve much of the credit. But so do teachers. Kids don't just become smart, someone teaches them. Can't you give teachers some credit? What makes you think they are worse now?


Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 12, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Good public education:


AVERAGE US test and SAT scores go up every year regardless of the student population. It means nothing about the intelligence of kids.


Posted by Midtowner 2, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2009 at 3:38 am

Is this exploding health costs or insurance costs? They're not the same.

Doesn't PAUSD self-insure for liability? Why doesn't it do the same for medical, and maybe work out a deal with PAMF and Stanford to pay medical costs directly, and put the money it saves on insurance and medical costs into its own insurance fund to pay for large medical down the line?

That's kind of simplistic, but I'm guessing something along those lines that cuts the insurance middleman out would work. Maybe all the school districts in the Bay Area banding together?


Posted by Good Public Education, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 14, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Midtowner:

I don't know where you get your information about SAT's, but they do NOT go up every year across the nation. They have been flat for years.

Midtowner 2:

The district explored going directly with PAMF. It would have ended up costing more. PAMF is one of the most expensive health providers.


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