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."