School board to discuss student achievement, teacher raises

Board also to hear updates on touchy topic of high-school counseling

The Palo Alto board of education tonight will discuss high school student-achievement data, including the latest information on the percentage of Palo Alto students who graduate with all prerequisites for admission to California's four-year public universities.

School officials have been trying to raise that percentage, which historically has hovered around 80 percent. Starting with the class of 2016, the district will mandate the four-year college prep curriculum as a condition of high school graduation unless a student and his or her parents have negotiated alternative requirements with the school.

Also tonight, the board will vote on 4 percent raises, plus a onetime bonus of 2 percent, for all teachers, staff and administrators except for Superintendent Kevin Skelly.

The raises would bring the salary of an entry-level teacher from $52,965 to $55,083, plus a one-time bonus of $1,059. A mid-career teacher would go from $85,924 to $89,360, plus a one-time bonus of $1,718. The most senior teachers on Palo Alto's salary schedule now earn $106,951, and an additional 4 percent would bring them to $111,229, plus a onetime bonus of $2,139.

The raises will add an ongoing $5 million to the district's $180 million operating budget, according to finance officer Cathy Mak.

In the case of Skelly, the board will vote tonight on a 3 percent, "one-time annual salary increase" for the 2013-14 school year on his regular pay of $287,163.

In other business tonight, the board will hear an update on high school guidance-counseling programs, which has been a point of contention because service models at Gunn and Palo Alto high schools are not the same.

The board has indicated an acceptance of differing counseling models, so long as services to students are "comparable." But a number of parents at Gunn, which uses a traditional counseling model, have lobbied the board to order the school to adopt Paly's "teacher advisory" system. That system uses about 40 teachers to augment a small counseling staff.

In the fall of 2012 Gunn convened a 17-member "Guidance Advisory Committee" of parents, teachers and students representing all sides in the bitter dispute, which spent five months analyzing various counseling models and generating a 104-page report.

In March, Gunn indicated it could take an additional three years to fully implement its counseling reforms because they may require a change to the school's bell schedule.

In tonight's update, officials plan to present "secondary counseling framework," which they described as a "tool for aligning and clarifying secondary counseling services."

The two high schools are scheduled to present reports on their respective "site plans" in March 2014.

Following a 5 p.m. closed session in which the board will discuss employee, legal and real-estate issues, the board will convene in public session at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.

Chris Kenrick


Posted by stop the pay raises!, a resident of Ventura
on Dec 10, 2013 at 11:11 am

Every time the budget looks good, we give pay raises to the teachers, which when pensions are considered, dramatically raises long term costs. This has to stop.

Posted by No bonus for Skelly!, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 10, 2013 at 11:18 am

It's ironic that the board will vote Kevin Skelly a bonus after hearing about the Gunn counseling situation -- a situation about which he misled the board and public. The bonus will also come after a closed session which may discuss the bullying/OCR/CDE investigations/audits/lawsuits/mess.

If this board gives Kevin Skelly a 3% raise a mob should descend on the district with pitchforks and torches. But nothing will happen at all and everyone will just go back to sleep. In November, Barb and Dana will be re-elected and all will just go on as before. Nothing to see here, move along.

Posted by No bonus for Skelly!, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 10, 2013 at 11:33 am

And by the way there is ABSOLUTELY not one word in that Gunn counseling presentation for tonight about

1. changing the bell schedule for Gunn or

2. what comparable means. Instead, it appears that they define "comparable" as having the same activities, broadly defined such (one cannot make this up):

4 year academic planning
 Check transcripts
 Review college/graduation requirements
 Parent nights
 Team meetings to identify students who demonstrate need for
additional supports

yes that's right, Gunn parents -- if your child has a "parent night" that's how Katherine Baker defines "comparable". Forget the fact that our own strategic plan identified a Gunn/Paly counseling gap with Paly parents and students twice as satisfied with TA as Gunn parents and students are with their counseling services -- you got a parent night, your transcript was checked, there was a team meeting at some point somewhere so STFU and give Kevin a bonus.

Here's the packet, Gunn parents: Web Link

Best part: all the slides that say "to be inserted" -- which is pretty much everything. logic model, activities, and all outcomes. It's all "to be inserted." After four years, three committees and a dozen board meetings we are no closer to giving Gunn students the same quality counseling that Paly students receive than we were at the start. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Tragic Comedy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm

This school board is a sad, sad joke.

1. There is apparently no accountability for Skelly: counseling, bullying, lying... where does it stop?!

2. A high school teacher gets $100K+, summers off, plus benefits, retirement healthcare and pension? Wow! Your tax dollars at work.

Wish the board had some spine.

Posted by Marty, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Dear "Tragic Comedy",

I don't see you clamoring to get a job as a teacher or running for school board! You couldn't take all the abuse from all the know-it-alls on this list. And you couldn't take the pay cut. Teaching is hard work, a noble calling, requiring much dedication and sacrifice, and deserves our respect.

Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2013 at 1:51 pm

> Teaching is hard work, a noble calling, requiring much
> dedication and sacrifice, and deserves our respect.

Would you say that teachers sacrifice more than the men and women serving in our military? How many months a year do teachers end up serving overseas? How many teachers come home in body bags? Can teachers resign when they want to, or are they bound to their jobs for long periods of time?

Any ideas?

Posted by taxpayer and parent, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 10, 2013 at 6:16 pm

thank you Marty.
Yes, there's a silent majority out here that know we expect teachers to respond quickly morning, noon, and night. We trust them to help our kids through tantrums and trauma, to navigate through ever more time consuming legal paperwork, oh and at the end of the day, teach curriculum. Bravo PAUSD teachers, thanks for hanging in there when times were leaner. Thanks for the work you do. The raise is a catch-up measure, wish we could pay you more, and wish more of you could afford to live here.

Posted by Poor teachers!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Teaching as a noble profession? You are thinking of other countries or America in decades past. Teachers come from the bottom third of universities and even PAUSD is infected with too many mediocre folks in the teaching ranks. It's comical to think of every teacher as a high-performer. PAUSD was scraping the bottom of the barrel of thoe who were hired in the late 1990s, every district in California was. Most PAUSD teachers deserve and need this raise and we should honor them so, becuase only by doing that can we differentiate between all the lemons and duds that still exist in each school. That's just the teachers. Then, the raises are being given to every principal and every administrator. Do I really need to cite the lack of performance in so many of our principals and administrators, especially the ones at the disrict office? They get raises! And then there is Skelly. he Weekly lists his pay as $287K per year. Does that include the interest saved by the $1,000,000 loan? Does it include the $750 or so monthly car allowance? Is he worth the money we are paying him? Will one solitary board member represent us and vote no against Skelly's salary increase? Heck, if I were a board member, I would ask Skelly publicly to determine if he deserves a raise and then vote accordingly. These raises are not about kids (maybe Barb or Tabitha should write up some more press release opinion drivel) and they show that PiE is not needed this year or last. PiE is needed when the state makes cuts to the Basic Aid districts or the health insurance companies go rogue and decide to raise fees by ridiculous percentages. Support PiE, support the status quo. As for the raise being a catch-up measure, then that means we are catching up all our teachers, principals, and administrators, including Skelly. This work is no harder than any other work. I know because I am a teacher and I have worked many different jobs before becomig one. It's silly and outdated to continue to think we are special.

Posted by democracy?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 10, 2013 at 7:07 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by democracy?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Well he just got the bonus, because he's done such a terrific job. What would someone have to do to not get a bonus in Palo Alto? Sweet Jesus, this is hopeless.

Posted by Poor teachers!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Skelly gets his raise! 5-0. Everyone else, too, 5-0, Skelly thanked Teri Baldwin, president of PAEA. And the poor music and P.E. teachers were asking to hire more teachers. Evaluation of the superintdent was in closed session. We won't know what they said. Is Skelly really gone after this school year? I'm not sure that will help, considering the damage done in the past few years. It's been a circus. Counseling program presentation seems like a sham. Didn't this start maybe two years ago? Feel free to report on the rest.

Posted by What does it take, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I am shocked that Skelly got the raise. I am really praying he will not be renewed. We need leadership for PAUSD. I am hoping that a new leader will help to hire leaders (principals) that can then get rid of some of the dead wood and hire high quality experienced teachers. Why is the highest paying district around hiring new inexperienced teachers? A wonderful principal who is now gone once told me that it is necessary for teachers to get experience elsewhere before coming to PAUSD. Clearly they pay such a great salary versus other neighborhood school districts. What will it take to have someone with leadership skills to be the superintendent?

Posted by parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Did I just hear at the board meeting a parent relate the fact that three kids who graduated from Gunn last year and did not complete their first semester to the lack of a TA system at Gunn? She also said one of them committed a crime and somehow the lack of a TA system may be related to that? (She also said her son was thriving in college). I'd love to know the number of Paly students who don't make it through their first semester. What do they blame it on? If as many parents were outraged by the differences between the counseling systems, you would think they could show up for a board meeting to express it. In speaking to parents at both schools, it is clear that everyone wishes there was more money for college guidance and counseling. But even then I'm sure there are parents who wouldn't be happy. My child at Paly thinks TA is a waste of time. Nothing is accomplished. I'm sure there are some teachers that are great at it but they would probably make great connections with their students, anyway.

Posted by observer, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 10, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Thanks parent from PALY for sharing your view of what should happen at Gunn. We shouldn't get what you have. Thanks for sharing that. Let me tell you what I think you should have. I think your kids should have as little as those at Gunn. Please let's end TA -- it's expensive and we need a unified system. Since the GUnn teachers won't adopt TA the only way we can have a unified system is to give you the crap we have. Then you can see how you like it. You should have counseling system that students actively describe as worthless more or less to their counselor's faces.

Paly parents -- stop telling us at Gunn what we should have.

Posted by observer, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by wow, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 11, 2013 at 7:46 am

Sounds like a lot of bitter people out here who love to be part of the problem rather than the solution. Has any of these people complaining about Skelley ever been an actual Superintendent, have that EXPERIENCE? People who are angry and bitter love these boards so they can go off on Skelley, teachers etc... so they don't have to look at themselves and their part in what is going on. If they have no part or experience on subject they should either get very involved in positive manner for change or just move. These boards do way more harm than good: egos, opinions, hate etc..... Weekly love this kinda stuff and lots of people just love feeding into it!

Posted by Migraine, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:39 am

If you haven't been a superintendent of a large suburban high achieving district in a place that rhymes with lallo galto that's located on el camino real south of one major city and north of another one the. You cannot criticize anything that happens here. Only if you have otherwise nope.

Posted by You don't know me!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:02 am

Wow sounds bitter. But it sounds like we can't criticize Obama or Bush either because we haven't been President.

Posted by Poor teachers!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2013 at 7:18 am

PiE has sent out an email and what a surprise, it is titled, PiE Helps PAUSD Principals Respond to Student Needs. Well, thanks Kathy Schroeder for reading the Weekly Town Square to realize that students are the last thing that principals and administrators have been talking about. Raises. Two big ones for everyone, regardless of performance, violation of children's civil rights, and now we have to pay for them, which means we need to provide soft money to PiE who gives it to Kevin Skelly, who gives it to principals, when what should have happened was for the general fund surplus should have paid for a smaller raise and perhaps fund all that training needed for the unnecessary mystified, convoluted bullying policy. Tabitha Hurley, try again. I notice more press releases, more strategic letters to the editors by board members, but absolutely zero substance. Thanks for reading, I will await your response in Skelly's Weekly Communication or the next press release.

Posted by parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 12, 2013 at 7:31 am

@poorteachers - I sincerely hope and pray you are not and never have been, or will be, my child's teacher. If that is your view of teaching, I hope you can retire sooner rather than later.

Posted by Poor teachers!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Pray away, but be clearer about what you are referring to.

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