Dec. 4 statement of Palo Alto Educators Association President Teri Baldwin to the Board of Education:
I am hoping that when you are considering the budget information that (school district Chief Budget Officer Cathy) Mak has presented to you, you will also consider why teachers need a salary increase. Teachers worked so tirelessly to get Prop 30 passed. We spent evenings phone banking and weekends precinct walking and at the local art festival and farmers markets educating the community on why it was so important to have Prop 30 pass. We did it and were so happy and relieved that our district would not be cut by over 4 and a half million dollars.
Since 2009 to the present the Consumer Price Index for the bay area has increase 7.6 percent. 3.2 percent of that has been in the last year. In that time teachers have not had a salary increase or a cost of living adjustment at all. In fact, they have had a decrease in their salary due to higher benefit co-pays and the contributions towards their health benefits. So at a time when costs are rising our teachers' pay has essentially been cut.
On a personal note, I use to live in Palo Alto just one block from my school. I loved living there. Ownership of my building changed and my rent was increased by 30 percent. I had to move. I couldn't find anything affordable in Palo Alto and had to move out of the town.
In a survey we gave to our teachers we asked if anyone worked part-time jobs outside the classroom or summers. 50 percent of the teachers that responded said they worked in the summer, and a very large majority of those stated it was to "make ends meet." 43 percent said they worked a part-time job during the school year. Some of the comments about whey they worked were: "Need more money to support my three children," "It is necessary to afford to live in the bay area" "It is a financial necessity" and there are many more comments like these.
Dr. Skelly addressed the Board on October 23 of this year about the Strategic Plan. He mentioned the strong ending balance that the district has (which I will add has been growing for many years). He also mentioned that the district has kept health cost down and has been paying the same amount for a couple of years. It wasn't mentioned that this is because the employees have taken on those costs and have had their salaries decreased by doing so.
We have tried to be understanding that times were tough and unpredictable for the district, but they have been tough for all of us as well. For years we were told we could not have a raise or an increase to our benefits cap because of pending devastating cuts the district was going to face, cuts that either never materialized or were greatly reduced. It is hard to understand why we have had our salary decreased when the district's ending balance has grown over the past 5 years. It is not good for morale when teachers are asked to do more and more in and out of the classroom and aren't feeling valued or compensated for their commitment to their students, classrooms, schools and the district.