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Palo Alto substitute teachers to get pay raise

Original post made on May 7, 2014

Following the testimony of four substitute teachers who said their pay is too low at Tuesday's school board meeting, Palo Alto School Superintendent Kevin Skelly said he plans to formally propose a pay raise for substitute teachers later this month.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 9:31 AM

Comments (31)

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Posted by Confused
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2014 at 10:41 am

I'm confused about skills relative to pay. The substitute teacher quoted says: "We are all highly skilled and we try hard to do a particularly good job". But then she says she didn't know a note of music, how to use the smartboard, and was not given any training on the variety of mainstreamed kids in the class. How can a Sub be skilled but also claim ignorance for all the requirements in a classroom today?

Don't get me wrong. I think teachers are INCREDIBLE for what they do and I couldn't last a day in the classroom. But I think if you expect pay for skilled work you need to bump up your skills to what's currently expected in PAUSD. Many employees these days in private industry are expected to hit the ground running with required skills and employers offer very little training. I think it would be great if PAUSD provided the training that Subs need. Our kids would obviously benefit. And all teachers are underpaid.


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Posted by muttiallen
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 7, 2014 at 10:51 am

muttiallen is a registered user.

It's true -- do the math. There are about 180 days of school each year. At $135/day our substitute teachers are making $24,300!! No one can live on that, especially in this area.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2014 at 10:58 am

So .. how many substitutes are engaged by the District on a yearly basis (Fall and Summer Session)?

How many hours a day do these people put in?

And what exactly are they expected to do for their money?

How many subs live in Palo Alto, and how many live more than 10 minutes (by car) from Palo Alto?

This article isn't very helpful in trying to understand the issues.

> no training in classroom technology ..

So what technology is so complicated that someone claiming to have a BS/BA (in something or other) can't read the manual, or ask for a little help during a noontime break? This lack of initiative is another example of why 135/day may well be more than enough for these people.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2014 at 11:02 am

> No one can live on that, especially in this area

If you think that being a substitute teacher is a full-time job, and should be paid like a full time employee—then you need more than just another math lesson.

Being a substitute teacher is a life-style, or something that someone chooses to do to bring in a little extra income. So—let's start examining the household incomes of these subs before claiming they can't live in the Bay Area of $135/day, or $135K/year!


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Posted by Mother of student
a resident of Community Center
on May 7, 2014 at 11:20 am

Just because they are a "sub" doesn't mean these people should get paid any less. They are supporting our students, our children. No one can be a jack of all trades, but really how much additional training would YOU do if you only earned $135 per day. I think it is ridiculous that you ask what someone's annual income is - that's not relevant. They need to be compensated for the work they do. I'm glad this issue has been raised. I've talked to other mothers, former full-time teachers, and for them subbing often barely covers their child care fees for the day.


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Posted by Jeanie Smith
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 7, 2014 at 11:29 am

I've been a full-time teacher in PAUSD for over 15 years. Sonia Kantor is one of the best subs in the District, in high demand. She's right when she says subs used to be plentiful and now they're not. Too many days the District is maxed out on the need for subs, and other teachers have to take up the slack by subbing for a class on their prep period. It's gotten especially bad the last few years.

Increasing the salary, even by a relatively small amount, would mean the District could attract and retain subs-- the ones who stick around for a while are the ones most valuable, because they get to know District and school policies, and get to know teachers and students.

Some of the comments on here are so uninformed. You should try stepping into a classroom of 30 students, picking up a day's worth of lesson plans on a few pieces of paper, not having been able to speak with the teacher you're subbing for, finding everything you're supposed to use, hoping it WORKS the way it's supposed to, and you're expected to maintain order in the classroom and keep everyone focused and on task and create an environment for learning, deal with kids of all types/skills... We can't pay someone enough to do this challenging job!

It's not a hobby, or a life-style, or a fun part-time job, or something for "a little extra"-- most subs are hoping to become full-time teachers, and it's a way to gain experience in the classroom, and perhaps become a "known" quantity in a district; some are retired teachers, adding to their pension income; some are eager to experience teaching and interested in working with youth. It's a calling-- just like any teaching. It requires a special mindset, temperament, intelligence, and the patience of Job.

$135 a day is low compared to what other districts are paying. That amount hasn't changed in a long time...


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Posted by DT North
a resident of Downtown North
on May 7, 2014 at 11:33 am

They get something like $19/hour and are expected to be college educated and credentialed. They should get paid to go sit through a half day of training on the smart board and whatever else is used. People around here pay their nannies more than that, under the table cash, many have not been educated and don't speak English well. I am not saying they are not very sweet caregivers and nice people, I know a lot of them and they are wonderful, caring, lovely ladies, just saying to expect to pay someone college educated, in this area $19 an hour is ridiculous. Yes it is a lifestyle choice for some, but there are many other people, myself included, out there consulting (which is kind of the lifestyle choice equivalent for those of us who are not teachers) and we expect more than $19/hour. For others it may not be a lifestyle choice, they may be trying to get their foot in the door, hoping for a permanent position. And yes it is a career choice, but any of you who think dealing with those 22 - 25 little people is easy have obviously not spent much time in the classroom. I have volunteered many many hours and I can say there are charming children and there are those who are a HUGE challenge. It is no easy job. Give those poor people a raise. And for Pete's sake, it is not "Mary's" fault she was asked to teach a music class, she was sent there. Probably the trained music teacher figured out she could teach Piano to your kid for $60/half hour! Why would she give that up to sub for $135/day?


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Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on May 7, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Just as there are teachers who get paid twice what their worth or half what they're worth, so are there subs. I substitute taught for 7 years a long time ago. It's a hard job. In general, you get there enough ahead to review what is expected for that day, i.e., lessons plans. Sometimes they're there, sometimes not. Occasionally they say, "Ask the children!" Most of us had at least as much training (fully credentialed) as the regular classroom teacher, and some of us more. We were never paid on a par with the regular teacher's daily rate. Sometimes you are with the same class for over a week, and you were expected to leave complete notes and lessons plans so the teacher knew where to pick up. Supplies used to be locked up so I carried a lot of my own materials which I paid for. When I finally retired many years later, I wrote "The Day The Sub Came." It compresses a lot of what occurs into just one day at an elementary school. It is good for a laugh and you can download it free from

Web Link

I wholeheartedly support a salary increase for the Palo Alto substitute teachers. I know how hard it was to win one when I was a sub.


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Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on May 7, 2014 at 12:11 pm

@Bob
"Being a substitute teacher is a life-style, or something that someone chooses to do to bring in a little extra income. So—let's start examining the household incomes of these subs before claiming they can't live in the Bay Area of $135/day, or $135K/year!"

I think that is a typo. There are 180 school days not 1,000. If a sub were to work every day then the total pay would be $24,300.


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Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Community Center
on May 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I agree that substiture teachers (at $19 per hour) are underpaid. I'm not sure they should be paid as much (per hour) as a full time teacher. I think part of a full time teacher's job includes more than the responsibility of the daily teaching. I think $40 per hour would be more reasonable pay for a competent substitute teacher.

I am curious what others think of the pay PAUSD PE teachers receive. I don't think a PE teacher should make as much as a math or science teacher. I like most of the PE teachers I have met, but ... I believe they are GROSSLY overpaid. How much value do they add and how much training to you need to effectively teach PE? My impression is that the PAUSD PE teachers arrive at 7:50, leave at 2:50, and spend the day (in shorts and tees) outside.

As part of their job, PE teachers should be required to coach one school sport team, per season. Instead, PAUSD contracts the responsibility to the city. The city never can find enough qualified candidates, and pays high school kids $9 to do what the PE teachers should be doing.

But thanks to the unions, the PE teachers get paid are overpaid, and underworked, and the taxpayers do not receive reasonable value for their taxes.


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Posted by Paly grad mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 7, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I'm shocked at how little subs get paid. I get almost that much for refereeing a varsity and JV sport, and that only takes about 3 hours at a time (plus travel).


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Posted by muttiallen
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 7, 2014 at 12:27 pm

muttiallen is a registered user.

What is the hourly rate for overtime for teachers in PAUSD? I'll bet it's in the $40-$50 range. How about if subs are paid at the same rate? Can they be included in the union? But this will be an ever increasing problem. When the economy gets good in Silicon valley we have fewer teachers and even fewer substitute teachers. It's hard work. Temping at tech companies pays better and is easier.


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Posted by Jennifer Aza Allan
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm

After 17 years of teaching here and abroad, I can safely say that the value of a trusted substitute is not lost on teachers. I am sincere when I write that most teachers I know have "adopted" the students in their classrooms as their own and are professionally and emotionally invested in their well-being and in the academic progress that they make yearly. Leaving the classroom for any length of time is not a decision taken lightly.

A trusted substitute is one of the cornerstones of a successful school and a successful district. The substitute that I personally rely on for leaves and/or absences is truly a big part of our school community and deserves a pay increase that can begin to hope to reflect the immeasurable impact of her professional services to us.

The job has changed vastly through the years, it stands to reason that remuneration should as well. Bravo!


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Posted by the real world
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 7, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Many in the private sector are doing their job plus the job of two other colleagues who have been let go (corporate downsizing, not poor performance on the part of the dismissed employees).
It is difficult to be sympathetic to part-time employees...a slight raise should more than suffice. With a short school year, you just cannot equate that to the business world of extreme overtime and often-deferred vacations and small raises in recent years.


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Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm

In the REAL WORLD the hourly pay rate for a temporary consultant is often higher than the rate of the individual being replaced (out on leave or disability). The higher rate is because the compensation excludes benefits and the hiring company is interested in maintaining a high level of work. The current level of compensation for substitutes indicates the district is only interested in hiring baby sitters. What is the goal? If teaching is important then obviously the pay scale needs to rise.


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Posted by Old teacher
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 7, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Thanks to all of you who support the PAUSD substitute teachers' request for decent pay. I taught in PAUSD classrooms ( in 3 languages) from 1964 to 2001 and have subbed ever since retirement. Subbing is a lot harder than it used to be, due to the tech demands and the sudden need to replace two different teachers in one day
(which frequently has happened to me), and also thanks to the very disparate clientele we now serve -- kids from all over the world with so many different needs and expectations. The Oregon State legislature mandates that subs receive 85% of the per diem rate of their lowest-paid teachers. Were that the case in Palo Alto, substitutes would earn more than $ 260 per day instead of $ 135. By the way, subbing is not a "hobby" for a lot of us. After my decades of PAUSD teaching, my State pension pays about $ 2,300 per month. Can you live on that in this town ? I still love working with the fabulous kids in our schools - but look forward to more financial recognition. Again, thanks for your support. Much appreciated !


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Posted by Retired teacher
a resident of Midtown
on May 7, 2014 at 6:09 pm

I sub in a title one school in Santa Clara. I am paid $155 per day. Was shocked that Palo Alto sugs get less.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on May 7, 2014 at 7:25 pm

They subs haven't had a raise in many years - and Shelly didn't KNOW? Oh, come on!!!


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Posted by A sub in the district
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 7, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Thank you for all of the positive encouraging comments! It's all about equity. We should be paid the same salary as anyone else in the district with 6 years of college. We can't be a part of the teachers union I believe, because we are considered an "itinerate worker" but also because most subs would not be able to afford the $100 dues per month. It's only 2% or less for a regular teacher but for a sub with eight work days it's over 10% of our pay. When we had asked before about a pay raise, we were told to wait and that it would be "discussed". It has only been in the past year though that we found out that all other sub workers (custodians, clerks) have gotten raises. Now our rate of pay is less then an an aide with two years of education.
It's hard to understand how a district that SAYS they are "child centered" and "community minded" would permit an entire class of workers be marginalized to the extent PAUSD has. They have been allowed to do so because no one, not community members not subs not teachers raised the issue in a sustained manner. There are many subs that are concerned that by speaking up they won't get hired by the district. I know that many of the subs work several jobs to make ends meet-perhaps that's why also nothing has been done?
At one time, perhaps the model was "a job for some extra income" now it's more for other reasons, working with children and flexibility in our time. Our per diem rate $135. it has been that rate since 2003. Since then, the national cost of living has risen over 24%, which means the rate of pay, if we don't consider any numeration for training or for longevity, would be $173. We also believe we should have our salary tied to the beginning teachers salary just like Oregon.


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Posted by Late to the Party
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 8, 2014 at 12:09 am

I appreciate that the amount subs make is not a sustainable source of income for someone living in the Bay Area unless they have an additional income source. That said, I don't think substitute teachers do nearly the job of full-time teachers, mostly through no fault of their own. Most subs are called in because a teacher had a sudden illness or family emergency, which leaves the sub in a situation of trying to add value in a foreign environment - in one day! In these cases the sub truly can do little more than keep the kids under control and doing something useful (much like a nanny or babysitter). That does that reflect their ability and skill, but it does reflect the value of their contribution in those "pinch-hit" situations. In my experience, when my kids have a sub their lesson plan goes off-track and has to be made up when their regular teacher returns (again, not placing blame on the subs here).

In cases where there is more warning and longer sub durations, I agree their true skill and education can provide increased value.

I do not believe a substitute teacher should be paid the same as a full-time teacher though. Ultimately, full-time teachers have to plan a whole year of lessons and curriculum, attend meetings, grade homework (except for what they can get their aides to do - something teachers of the past did not have), deal with parent/pupil issues, etc...

Several people have compared substitute teachers to consultants in the private sector, so why don't they follow that model? Why can't substitute teachers charge what they want to charge, and let the demand/supply control the pay rate? Especially if it's true, like several in this thread have suggested, that there are not enough subs here in PAUSD. Really good subs should be able to command higher pay than the "baby-sitter" types.

Why are all of these highly qualified teachers willing to work for only $135/day?


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Posted by Late to the Party
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 8, 2014 at 12:20 am

Just to clarify one point: In the private sector people are paid based on the VALUE they provide to employers - how they affect the bottom line - not an artificial metric based on years of experience and years of education. You can have a PhD and 30 years of experience, but unless the role you perform brings a lot of value to a company you will not be paid as much as the college drop-out who is making you a ton of money to deliver results.

Look at the results a substitute teachers delivers and the pay scale should match it if you want to compare to the private sector consultants. When subs are called in to replace a sick teacher, the results they provide are often not much more than babysitting, but again, through no fault of their own.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 8, 2014 at 4:29 am

It has always amazed me just how often my kids have subs. Right back from kindergarten days they seem to be a regular occurrence. Obviously teachers, like every worker, can get sick and those working with children are likely to get sick more often than those working with adults. Then there are those who are substituting long time covering maternity leave, etc.

As a result, substitutes are a very necessary part of the teaching staff in our district. I am not sure why they are considered temporary or part time. Perhaps they should instead be considered floating staff and paid an annual salary rather than just for the days they work. If they are available to work on any given day then they are obviously unavailable for working elsewhere so it is apparent that they can't be holding down another teaching job. If we need these substitute teachers then they are as important to the district as any other teacher on the payroll.


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Posted by Addison Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 8, 2014 at 9:44 am

Please pay the substitutes more!!! The subs I have seen at Addison have been abysmal, and some have really traumatized my kids. I am all for raising the rate to attract higher quality subs. I have thought about substituting myself, but at $19 per hour, not worth it.


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Posted by Roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 8, 2014 at 10:24 am

Dear Addison mom, how much do you pay your babysitters?


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on May 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Just to clarify another point. In the public sector the pay has nothing to do with any bottom line ala in the private realm. Nor is the private sector in any position to assume any ordinate or "divine" role as far as dictating endpoints or any "bottom line". After all, the current unregulated private sector is rapidly destroying our society, our planet, our democracy, and our people. I recall back in the late 80's when my kids were in school, how various "Erlich's" from the HBO series Silicon Valley, sought to impose their supposed ordinate wisdom upon the public educational system.

The public sector might pay for a fire department staffed 24/7 which for years doesn't save the amount of property value that they are paid for. In the private sector they would all be eliminated as there is no "bottom line", no "productivity" no profit. But do so in the public sector and we all just watch fire destroy everything.

Fix your own mess before you dare lecture anyone else!


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Posted by resident
a resident of Community Center
on May 8, 2014 at 9:36 pm

A Noun Ea Mus,

"the current unregulated private sector is rapidly destroying our society, our planet, our democracy, and our people."

So true. I once thought about that, and it does put the public costs into perspective.



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Posted by Addison Mom
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 8, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Roger, why do you care? I pay my high school babysitter $15 per hour. So, she makes more than the substitutes in Palo Alto, since its under the table.


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Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 9, 2014 at 4:49 am

Really, Bob, it is just remarkable that you can be arguing against raising a sub teachers salary. In Portland the daily rate for subs is $170, and the cost of rent is probably 1/3 to 1/2 of what it is here. I cannot believe how low the pay is in Palo Alto. I wish you peril and hard times so that you may develop empathy for others.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 9, 2014 at 7:20 pm

I have no problem paying subs a decent wage. I do have a problem with allowing them to sub for a subject they know nothing about. Mary Baker said they've had her teach Japanese and stringed instruments. So, what exactly did they do in class that day, watch a movie? Read? Do other homework? If that's the case, then $135 for babysitting seems like a pretty good deal.

Maybe the district should work out a contract where the regular teachers aren't out of the classroom to attend "training". This would limit the need for the number of subs and maybe it'd be easier to find a somewhat competent one. It seems at least once a week when one of my kids come home from school and tell me they had a substitute.

I'd like to know the number of class periods/days that subs are used in the district. How does that compare to other districts? Why are teachers missing so many days?


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Posted by Last of the baby boomers...
a resident of Community Center
on May 9, 2014 at 10:07 pm

We have been very lucky in the subs that we have had. These have frequently been wonderful, retired teachers that the students and staff have known for many years. Teachers plan ahead as much as possible to arrange for these amazing, caring, special, beloved people to come in to help out in their classrooms. My daughter developed an interest in programming in fourth grade because of a *wonderful* inspired substitute. They are supporting more than the 1-4 kids that a babysitter does and bring education, experience and skills to the table. Please proceed with raising their daily rate.


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Posted by SouthernCalSub
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I really think it should be more protection and pay increases for quality subs. I have a degree and teaching credential, which makes me a qualified educator by the state of California standards. Credentialed subs make districts look better statistically and ultimately attract more funding from the government, and this money needs to trickle down. It is also not fair that credentialed subs are being paid the exact same rate as someone with only an undergrad degree. I mean what about the extra money and time I invested to become credentialed? Also, we need legislation that will help more credentialed subs land full time jobs if it is there goal. Bottom line I am glad the issue is being highlighted but its only the tip of the iceberg...Oh yeah and by the way my district down here in Southern Cali only pays us $120.00 per day!!!


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