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Palo Alto schools welcome better financial news

Original post made on Dec 5, 2012

Palo Alto school board members Tuesday expressed relief at the first good financial news for the school district in years, and teachers reiterated a request they made last June for a pay raise.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 5, 2012, 9:45 AM

Comments (73)

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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 5, 2012 at 10:59 am

Teachers have the summer off...no other profession has the amount of vacation that teachers get. If they want to earn more, they can work more, just like all other professionals.


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Posted by liar
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2012 at 11:05 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 5, 2012 at 11:13 am

Dear Mom: I find your position...uninformed? Teachers work well beyond the hours we are paid for -- we take work home with us to do in the evenings and on weekends. We write letters of recommendation for students applying to colleges -- work for which we are not compensated. We meet with parents and students outside of work hours -- and in this community, there are a lot of students and parents wanting our time, and we are not compensated for that either. I can tell you that if we do not get a raise, many of us will start working "to the rule" of the contract -- fewer of us will be willing to continue to "do more" and "Do better, Palo Alto," working outside the school day's contracted hours. And if we were to leave teaching and work on a corporate calendar without summers off, we'd be making TWICE as much money.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2012 at 11:16 am

The PAUSD Board ought to comment on this disgusting video that seems to have been produced by the California Teachers Association--

Web Link

The Board ought to make it clear that teaching this kind of hateful garbage in PAUSD classrooms will be unacceptable.


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Posted by ResponseToTeacher
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2012 at 11:21 am

All of us have to live within our means. At some point that means we can no longer afford to pay all other people who want to live beyond their means. By all means if you can make twice the salary you should do so! However it is ridiculous for the unions to keep mooching off the taxpayer when we are already stretched beyond quite a bit ourselves. No other job would give you this salary for 9 months of work, with a pension and healthcare along with "tenure" (why tenure for a school teacher, but that is entirely another question). You are fairly compensated and anything more is greed.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2012 at 11:33 am

> I find your position...uninformed? Teachers work well
> beyond the hours we are paid for -- we take work home
> with us to do in the evenings and on weekends. We write
> letters of recommendation for students applying to colleges
> -- work for which we are not compensated.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Compensation seems to be your only thought in this posting. Presumably the salary/benefits are your only motivation for doing this job? If you say "Yes"—then you will be honest at least.

Teaching is obviously not "piece work"—where you expect to get paid for each little task you do. At least that's what we, the taxpayers believe. You get paid for 186 days of service—with a pension of up to 72% of your final take home—that could easily result in your making more in your retirement years than you made in your working years. What do you think that money is for? A gift because you elected to teach—while the rest of the world decided to work most of the year—not just half of it--and are taxed to death to pay you for non-working?

Most of us think that grading homework, grading tests, and writing letters (??) are a part of the job—and hence factored into the compensation. But if you believe that is false—perhaps you can provide us a copy of your contract that clearly states that all you have to do is stand in front of a class for 4-odd hours a day/ Can you do that? (By the way, how many teachers in elementary/middle shcools "write letters" for their students?)

The fact that you seem to have totally forgotten that at retirement you will be receiving a very handsome pension for the rest of your life—thereby increasing the effective compensation that you receive to be greater than that many people receive in the private sector—should make the average taxpayer grow weary of listening. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 5, 2012 at 11:39 am

As usual, the only thing the teachers are interested is in fattening their wallets, not for education for the kids. Not to mention the obsene pensions they will receive.
Brown got elected by the unions for the unions and he has not lifted a finger in making public wokers penions anywhere near private companies- 25-35% of 5 year average salary for 30 years. The public workers are bankrupting CA. There is no hope for the state or country.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 5, 2012 at 11:40 am

Teacher,
By all means, if you can make twice as much in the corporate world, go for it. I'd rather have teachers that want to teach our children because they care and love their job. I don't doubt you'll make more money outside of PAUSD. But, you also won't have the job security, the pension, the almost free health care, a 186-day work year or guaranteed step raises. The average corporate worker, works approximately 245 days (52X5)-15 days vacation. So, prorated, the first year salary for a PAUSD teacher is, $67,700 + benefits. And most people I know, don't work 8-5 and they still bring their work home and go in on weekends.

Sure, you can do better than that. But, if times are tough, you won't have the union to hide behind to get you a raise, or guarantee your employment for life.

Why should the district spend every single dollar they have? Why not put it to the hundreds of other things that need to be addressed in the district. Or, here's an idea, save the money to pay for all of those pensions that will be coming through the pipeline, or for when revenues go down.


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Posted by Michael
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 5, 2012 at 11:42 am

I'm violently opposed to government waste, and most of that waste comes from overpaying public sector employees. I rarely weigh in on teachers, though, because there are plenty of areas where reform efforts are better spent (100K total comp street sweepers and 200K firefighters who retire at 50, for example)

With regard to teachers, BAD teachers are grossly overpaid -- doing damage to our future generations is a huge net negative, and the fact that teacher's unions defend them to the end is a great disservice to our children and our country. On the other hand, great teachers are underpaid for the value they add, largely because unions won't allow pay to be based on merit, but rather seniority.

Any pay increases coming to our teachers be based strictly on merit. Even if the total $$ to our teachers increases, there should never be another step increase or cost of living adjustment. Let the great teachers see huge raises and the lousy ones see nothing. And Teacher, to you directly, with the level of dedication you describe, you'd see much larger raises, because the money wouldn't flow equally to good and bad alike.


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Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Teacher,

I had to laugh reading your post.

Working outside of "regular" working hours is completely the norm in private industry. Most of us are on call, online, and on the job 24/7/365 in this flattened, internet-connected time zone-less world.

I'd be glad to support doubling your salary provided:

a) Your union agrees to make it MUCH easier to fire bad teachers.
b) Tenure is eliminated
c) Pension is replaced with 401(k)s and no matching

That is what most private industry workers have to accept.

There are too many instances of schools having to pay teachers to do no work because of union rules. There are also too many cases of incompetent teachers who cannot be fired, again due to union rules.

So under the current circumstances, having a job, health benefits, pension, the rest of us think you have it pretty good.


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Posted by To Teacher
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm

To Teacher,

You can't be serious. Most of us also work well byond our work day working long hours and at home. We don't get all summer off and extended time for Holidays and everything else during the year.

Why don't you enjoy your 8 month work schedule and many of the PA teachers who make 100K.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm

According to the article: "It is ... hard for teachers to plan their budgets. Rents in the Bay Area have increased 10 to 12 percent in 2011, and do I even need to mention gas prices for our commuting teachers? High local living expenses are a serious disincentive to young teachers joining the district," Gogarty said, speaking to the board in June

There's a reason teachers commute to teach in Palo Alto. I don't know of any jobs where they compensate everyone because some employees need to commute to work and pay for gas.

Palo Alto pays very generously and is a high achieving and safe environment. Looking at the Tracy school district, 1st year teachers make just under $44K. So, that's a 16+% increase over Palo Alto. Tracy USD also pays only $8500 in medical benefits.

On top of all of that, PAUSD is funded primarily from property taxes and is less affected by the problems facing those receiving all of their funding from the state.


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Posted by Whine Detector
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Who the hell would want to teach in PA if they had to deal with the posters on this board....elch. PA has officially become ruined as a nice place to live. Look elsewhere young families.


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Posted by Teacher 2
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 5, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I find the response to this disheartening. We are certainly not in this job for the money - we are in it because we are good educators ad we care about YOUR kids. However, many other districts in the area have given their teachers a salary increase (or in some cases more than one) in the last 4 years, and Mountain View and San Mateo districts both pay their teachers more than PAUSD does. And I'm willing to bet that those communities treat their teachers with more respect than I'm seeing on this post.

For the past several years, our medical benefits have decreased and our class sizes have increased. I don't think it's out of line for us to ask for a increase after four years. People in corporate America get salary increases too.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Dear Whine Detector -- no kidding! The parents our teachers must have to deal with every day...They should get extra pay just for that. I'm embarrassed by the hostile sentiments on this post.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I have to say that teachers are fairly compensated already for the work they do, so I disagree that any increase is necessary. Once lesson plans are created, most subjects only need a bit of tweaking to keep them relevant.... unlike most jobs out in the bay area that might pay better than a teacher's salary. Tech sector jobs are constantly changing and requiring employees to learn ever new technologies just to stay relevant. There is NO job security... in fact, experience can work against you if you want to work at Google or Facebook. There is little time off (what have you done for me in the last hour?)... and there are no pensions. All in all, not a bad deal. In fact, I'm thinking I should get my certification.


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Posted by whatever
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm

SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!! Great movie, Jerry Maguire!!! All about the Qwan Bebeee!!!


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm

It's easy to criticize public employees. I don't think the 10 or so individuals in this thread represent greater Palo Alto. Just ignore.


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Posted by Teacher
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I will be the first to say that, as a teacher, I do not have many complaints about my salary. I make much more than teachers in other districts do, and I count myself lucky that I get to work with such a great student body. I did not go into teaching to become rich, and I never deluded myself into thinking that my salary would ever exponentially increase. I do have to say, however, that unless you are a teacher and know all of the work that the job entails, you cannot possibly say whether the salary is fair or not. I do not assume to know how much "extra" work other professionals, such as lawyers or doctors, put in. With any salaried profession, there will always be those who go the extra mile and those who just maintain the status quo. Our work ethic defines how successful and effective we are in our professions. We all want to earn more money, whether we are teachers or not. What bothers me is the lack of gratitude I see for the profession in these comments. Part of what defines Palo Alto is its quality of education, so if you are grateful for living here, be grateful for what the community offers you.


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Posted by Katie
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Was it ever inteded for anyone else except the teacher paycheck. How about for the student's whom you are teaching.


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Posted by ResponseToTeacher
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Teacher: What you see is a response to your ridiculous demand for more money in the worst possible manner. Your follow up message asking for gratitude is only making matters worse.
Remember that the comments here are in response to YOUR comments - not at teachers in general. No one who makes a fair living can expect any gratitude when they start off with an attitude and a claim that they could make double the money if they did something else. Start off by showing some respect to the people that pay your salary and you will find that there is plenty of gratitude. And I repeat, if the money is too little then please feel free to go and double it as you have claimed you can do.


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Posted by Teacher #2
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm

The first "Teacher" and second "Teacher" comments are not by the same person.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 5, 2012 at 2:07 pm

My comments are made from the perspective of working in private industry and managing pay raises for my employees, from having 6+ relatives who are teachers (parents, siblings, in-laws, etc), and also from doing salary administration for non-profits. All employees want to be appreciated and valued for the work they do, whether they are custodians or CEOs, because there is pride in any job well-done. I make it a point to regularly thank all the people who make our schools great. But, I still believe teachers are fairly compensated already and that the funds should be used according to the plan in place.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2012 at 2:34 pm

> the comments of those opposed to the problems of the
> teacher quoted in the article are not representative of
> greater Palo Alto.


Hmmm .. wonder if this poster really knows who/what "greater Palo Alto" is, these days?

Let's start with the residences of PAUSD students (which is greater than "greater Palo Alto"):

Los Altos Hills (western side)
Stanford University (Grad students/Staff Living on Stanford Lands)
East Palo Alto (VTP—about 550 students)
Non-resident Staff members (300-400)
Palo Alto

Of these components—there are perhaps 28,000 dwelling units in Palo Alto, maybe 1500 (possibly fewer) on the Stanford grounds, and about 1500 in Los Altos Hills. There are probably close to 550 families contributing children from EPA, and between 300-400 Staff families.

In Palo Alto, about 50% of the residents are renters, who don't pay property taxes (in any direct way). Between 15% and 25% of the residents are old enough to be living in homes long enough to have assessments of less than 150,000—so their yearly property tax is not much more than $1,500. Only about 20% of the dwelling units have children of school age, and about 15% of those children are enrolled in private schools, most years.

The last US Census or two has revealed that 15%-20% of Palo Alto makes more than $200K a year. 15% (or so) makes less than $15K a year. The average income for Los Altos Hills is about $150K a year. EPA's average is about $55K a year. Palo Alto's falls in between.

Median salaries for PAUSD teachers has been creeping up on $80K, with a very lucrative benefits package—which includes a lifetime pension (72% at 30 years).

There is a lot of economic diversity within the jurisdiction. It's really hard to believe that "greater Palo Alto" is so wealthy that it believes that education is more important than anything else in life.

The number of comments hostile to Teacher #1 most definitely reflects a growing sense on the part of the taxpayers that government workers—particularly teachers—see themselves as a "protected class" who should be insulated from the same kinds of pressures that the rest of us have to deal with on a daily basis.


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Posted by Correct sources
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Video was posted by CFT (California Federation of Teachers) not CTA - California Teachers Association. Big difference!!!!!!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I definitely do not think teachers should be "insulated from the same kinds of pressures that [everyone else has] to deal with on a daily basis." However, if the district went from a deficit to quite a sizable surplus, it owes its staff (not just teachers, but also the certificated workers) at least some kind of a raise. I think we all know that there are components of our lives that are more important than education, but that doesn't render education unimportant. Let's face it: Palo Alto's API scores are high because of the quality of its staff. California Teaching Standards are the same across the state, but our kids are not going to receive the same education in another district. The money we have allows our district to be great--we can afford expensive technology, multi-million dollar construction on school sites, and quality teachers. If we want to retain teachers, they need some incentive to stay here. They already have GREAT incentive, but if their salaries remain stagnant while more money keeps getting poured into other areas (does Gunn REALLY need a brand-new gym?), then they will begin to lose incentive, perhaps not now, but eventually. We need to keep investing in the future of our district's education.


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Posted by member
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 5, 2012 at 4:06 pm

In this economy, here in the U.S. and around the globe....those who are employed should be grateful I think. Educators are paid in personal satisfaction which is why so many go into teaching......we all know it's not salary first, yet the pay isn't all that bad either. Not all professions are created equal. Look at professional athletes, actors and reality stars. I wish I made money for doing 26 years of housework and raising a family. Hey, where's my money Mr.Tree, Ms. Sky My husbands company went bankrupt and we lost a ton of money and the last raise was 2008. We've scaled back and if we never recover those lost years, that's OK. Faith and love.


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Posted by ResponseToTeacher
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Resident:
Pension obligations are going to sink the city (and possibly the state). At this stage, it it profligate to suggest raises when pensions are unfunded. While the future solution is to change the nature of compensation to be more along the lines of the private sector existing obligations need to be funded. In this environment putting some money to ensuring existing obligations are met is the same as giving someone a raise - the alternative is bankruptcy down the road.
Palo Alto is one of the better paying school districts. With all respect to teachers student scores are not just a reflection to teachers but to the effort that families put into their children by way of resources outside of school. Lets not confuse issues and try to make a case for a raise when there is no case whatsoever.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 5, 2012 at 6:11 pm

The video is astonishing. I can't understand why the state teachers' union thinks that class warfare is the right way to get a raise. Most employees in private companies get two weeks per year of vacation and earn far less than Palo Alto teachers.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 5, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I would encourage anyone interested in the facts about teacher workload to look at the PAUSD school calendar, available on the PAUSD website. Each month lists the number of school days and teacher workdays. A teacher has about 70 additional days of vacation per year compared to a typical employee at a private company.


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Posted by Truth
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 5, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Don't listen to any teacher who complains about health care costs. The teachers voted for a salary raise knowing they had to now pay for a small portion of their benefits.

And ill bet you that the teachers get at least a 2% raise. I can see it coming.


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Posted by Just another voice
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:03 pm

I think being able to compare salaries by number of days paid is fair. 186 days (w/ 7 years experience) =$74,753.00 That's $401.90 a day / 8 hours is $50.24 an hour. I may be wrong, but I don't think that is overpaid for a professional with a university degree and 7 years of experience who may be living in this area. As for bad teachers, who are their supervisors? Isn't there a responsibility for principals to supervise and evaluate their most expensive asset? I believe bad teachers persist partially because the failure of their supervisors to do anything to help them or help them out the door. Further, in my 15 years in Palo Alto the reason teachers are not fired is because the principals and district does not try to remove them NOT because the union and contract prevented that removal.
And look around your office or work place--how perfect is your system--do slackers, cheater, ineffectual people stay around?


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Posted by Stop yer complaining
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Mom from Old Palo Alto: You keep calling it vacation, but it is not paid vacation. Most companies give 2-4 weeks paid vacation, some are lucky to have paid sabbaticals. Teachers are paid for 186 days of work. No teacher I know went into the profession to get rich. I don't understand where the animosity is coming for.


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Posted by Wow
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Why is there such a contrast between how people react to the idea of teachers requesting a raise (do not support) and how they react to the idea of teachers controlling decisionmaking in the schools (support) even when it results in policies that are bad for kids and less work for teachers? Yet in the first case we are only talking about money and in the second case, as with advisory at Gunn, we are talking about policies and practices that really make a difference for kids. Both salary increases and the kinds of programming we offer are questions of teacher professional control. It is really contradictory for forum posters to be outraged by the teachers union wanting a small raise, but then also outraged by parents who would like to implement certain programming over the objections of teachers union leadership at Gunn.

There is no difference between Gunn teachers insisting that Gunn students should get worse services than Paly students and Gunn teachers insisting on being paid more than Paly teachers. We shouldn't allow either instance yet the parents posting on this forum seem to feel that the former is entirely fine while the latter is horrible.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:21 pm

The Board should consider the budget forecast for the next 3 years first; from what I understand, deficits may still be a possibility in the near future.

I would like to see any future pay increases be based on merit, rather than an increase applied to each teacher equally.


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Posted by a parent
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Thinking of education - anyone recalls PAUSD teachers uniting in any way to express concerns/opinion about any issue except for compensation?
Teachers have direct influence on our kids.
Teachers have first hand knowledge as to the every day happenings - I'm hoping that hearing teachers voice only about compensation indicates that everything else is just GREAT, and we can rest assured that our kids can look up to them.


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Posted by You go Mom!
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 5, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Teri and Triona, spend more time actually teaching. You two come off as so whiny that I begin to be against supporting teachers like you. A survey, really? We pay so much in property, parcel, and other taxes, not to mention all the donations that I have paid to PTA and PiE for three kids. Why doesn't the teachers' union talk about how well their teachers actually teach? The big secret is that there are plenty of duds in the teaching ranks and they do not deserve the high salary--yes, $100K is a lot to many of us in Palo Alto--and they certainly do not deserve a raise. For what? For the hard work done by the tutors who I have paid? Prove your worth with some evidence, not the high STAR scores our kids earn because that has very little to do with you. You are not working at McDonald's part-time. You are paid a salary. Ever heard of doing what it takes for kids? We all work beyond our hours.


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Posted by An appreciative parent
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 5, 2012 at 10:14 pm

While I am not a knee jerk defender of the decisions that are sometimes made by our administration and board, I am appalled by the vicious attacks on teachers in this thread. Our teachers are hard working and dedicated to our students. I do not find it unreasonable that they are interested in advocating for some salary increase. That does not necessarily mean that salary adjustments would be appropriate at this time, but their committment to education should not be attcked as a result.
Frankly, these attacks make me embarressed on behalf of our community. I hope that others will post to show the appreciation that we have for our teachers.


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Posted by katie
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2012 at 10:31 pm

As a teacher, a lot of this sounds like blahblahblah to me coming from both 'sides.' Let's be clear about the pension info. It's not like PAUSD will be handing us bags of cash every month after we retire after 30 years. Teachers pay into the CA Teachers' Retirement (CalSTRS) but don't pay Social Security. Similar issues face those who pay in to the state retirement: will there be money when it's my turn? Also, there is a peculiarity in CA law that states if I am qualified to collect 'regular' SSI because of having worked 40 quarters in a non-public sector job (I have.), my SSI will most likely be reduced if I live in CA after I retire and am collecting a teacher's pension.

I knew what I was getting into when I made the change to becoming a teacher: I'm not going to get rich, but that's okay because I love my job. I was never prepared for (and am still surprised by) the scorn and disdain there is for public school teachers trying to do the right thing.


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Posted by local resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 5, 2012 at 11:13 pm

With two kids went through PAUSD, I have to say some teachers are good, while some are lazy and should look for another non-teaching job (double pay??? good luck). Overall, PAUSD is a good school system. However, my experience was that I did not have a chance to meet any teacher in an one-on-one meeting even I had requested (High School). Once I sent two emails requesting a meeting because there was an issue, but the emails went to teacher's BLACK-HOLE. No response at all. I gave up, did not want to make more "trouble", then get a bad recommendation letter for college application (actually, my son told me not to ask anymore to irritate his teacher :-(( ).

For pay raise, give to good teachers only, maybe there should be a vote by students and parents, including past students and parents....because past students/parents can tell the truth freely.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 6, 2012 at 5:26 am

I have already accounted for the two weeks of paid vacation that most employees get at private companies, and that teachers have a right to expect. What is amazing is that teachers get another SEVENTY DAYS OF VACATION more than that...and still expect to be compensated like a professional who actually works full-time all year long. Those seventy additional non-working days are part of a teacher's compensation, and it is dishonest not to include that factor in this discussion.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 6, 2012 at 5:45 am

Sounds like someone is counting chickens before they hatch. This anticipated new tax money is not just being printed. It must be pulled from other places, other consumer spending, other investments. If the economy contracts, the extra revenue will not materialize. It was smart of California to raise income tax a year retroactively, while any Federal increase won't apply until January 1. All this front loading of dividends plays right into Sacramento's hands. The unintended consequences will not become apparent until the end of 2013.


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Posted by You go Mom!
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 6, 2012 at 7:30 am

It's not so much scorn and disdain for public school teachers, it's just disgust with Teri Baldwin, the union, and any teacher trying to play the "poor me" angle. I have not heard anything out of Teri's mouth about students. What no one seems to know is that the secretaries and custodians' union gets their hours cut, their members laid off almost at will and many of them make up a large part of the total of people of color, specifically our black and Latino workers whereas the teachers union is almost all white and increasingly Asian. In a sense, there is an element of race to this debate, but only blacks and Latinos really care a out that but they have no power in Palo Alto or the union so again, this seems to be a non-issue. There is a better ploy to get more money, though. Try telling us at the next board meeting that you need another $2000 per year because you'll be able to raise my child's reading ability. That will save me the money I spend on other teachers. I'll write a letter to the board telling them make it $4000 per year--if you develop a system to pay better performing teachers more and the lemons less. We'll even let you design the system. Remember, it's all about the kids! Focus on them and take your union out of protecting the weakest, most ineffective teachers, and lead your members to focusing on compensating the best. Like another poster said: do the right thing! I agree with him or her.


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Posted by RT
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 6, 2012 at 7:51 am

Class sizes are ridiculously large. The best thing we could do for our kids is to use the $ to reduce class size. No raises - just more teachers to reduce class size.


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Posted by Reform Union
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 6, 2012 at 9:42 am

I agree with RT, we should use the $$ to reduce class sizes. Also, teacher union should be re-organize, reform the pay raise format based on performance of the teachers and adjust the pension to real life.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2012 at 9:48 am

> It's not like PAUSD will be handing us bags of cash every month
> after we retire after 30 years. Teachers pay into the
> CA Teachers' Retirement (CalSTRS) but don't pay Social Security.

Interesting comments. For starters—the PAUSD is not responsible for paying the pensions of its teachers—CALSTRS is the responsible party.

Next—the pension payout for a teacher with 30 years is 72% of the high years' salaries—and more if the person works more than 30 years. Most people in the US generally expect to put in closer to 40 years before they see retirement.

The PAUSD indicates that most of the teachers retiring do so with salaries around $100K—making their initial payouts somewhere around $72K a year, for life. The COLAs for CALSTRS generally are a little more than 2% a year—so that over the course of 30 years, the $72K yearly pension will roughly double to about $
150K a year!

It doesn't take much work to show that anyone who "sacrifices" to work 186 days a year as a teacher will end up with $3M to $4M in pension payouts after they retire.

> We don't get Social Security

The average Social Security recipient only gets about $12K a year. It's not clear if this teacher expects $12K (or more) on top of her $72K, or is just ignorant of the payouts for both of the sources of post-retirement funds. Whatever the source of her failure to understand the basics of her benefit package—the taxpayers who are on the hook for these lavish benefits do understand.

The school districts should do a better job explaining to their employees, and the public—just how much they are paying their teachers. Currently, very few people know much about just how much teachers are really compensated.


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Posted by The Truth
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 6, 2012 at 10:13 am

The Truth:
Been teaching in Palo Alto 15 years, love my job and kids!!! I make 96,000 $quan a year and if you want to give me a raise go for it, if not no big deal because it is what it is. If i wanted to wear a suit everyday and manipulate the big buck for a living I had a choice and made mine to work and coach kids in the best district in the state!!! This is a awesome community to work in and I'm grateful.

Like I said, you want to give me a raise go for it and if not I still know in my heart I have the best job in the world and work with kids who are motivated to do well whether in the classroom or on the fields!!! Peace of mind is priceless.


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Posted by Spouse of a Teacher
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 6, 2012 at 11:17 am

My spouse is a teacher. Neither she nor I have any complaints about her salary, benefits, or pension. A government job has to have perks, however, because it is, in a lot of instances, a thankless job with no room for a huge salary increase, even over the course of a lengthy career. She gets paid for 10 months of work, not 12, and works far more hours than I do. She works nights, weekends, and vacations She gets around 4 weeks of paid "vacation," but only enjoys about one of those weeks when she puts her work aside. I am in the private sector and make nearly twice as much money with greater benefits. My salary allows me to create my own 401K. But she loves her job and wouldn't have it any other way.

The comments on decreasing class size is entirely correct, and my wife would rather have that than a raise. She teaches high school English and has 169 students (and average of 34 per class). It takes her about a half an hour to grade one essay, so if she returns essays within a week, which she aims to do, that's an additional 85 hours of work a week, which is impossible, so she ends up taking longer. Thoughtful lesson planning also takes time. She has also agreed to write 30 letters of recommendation for seniors applying to college, which she does in her "spare time." We also have children to raise. Smaller class sizes would help tremendously. Some of the ding dongs at the district underestimated student enrollment for the current school year, and instead of hiring enough people to make up for this error, they piled more work on the teachers, whom district personnel AND school administrators knew would pick up the slack. The most flagrant wastes of salary are on the very same personnel and administrators who lack the skills to keep our schools running smoothly, and who are so far removed from their own experience in the classroom that they cannot possibly facilitate an environment for the teachers and students to work at their maximum capacity.



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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 6, 2012 at 11:40 am

Comments by "the Truth" and "Spouse" are much more productive than those by "Teacher" which started this whole tirade. No one likes to hear someone whine about how tough they have it. Be grateful for what you have. It's hard to say that teachers in PAUSD are poorly treated or compensated. What many are tired of is unions trying to squeeze out every single penny available and then when things go south everyone pays the price. I'm sure that "Teacher's" comments are not wide spread through the teaching ranks in PAUSD. From what I've experienced, they're, for the most part, caring and dedicated professionals that want to help our community's students become better people.


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Posted by For merit
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

With multiple children having gone through PAUSD schools, I know there is a lot of variation in the quality of teachers. The current pay scale doesn't recognize that. Encouraging the best teachers and sending a concrete message to the poor ones is well worth doing. Let's create a merit/bonus pool, and use it to create some incentives. I understand why the union wouldn't want that, but I think students would benefit.


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Posted by The Truth
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm

As I have stated already, Palo Alto is a fantastic place to work with great students and lots of parental support. Very grateful to work in Palo alto!

That being said, teachers are no better or worst than in past years, ***real problem in education is to many kids having kids! and the breakdown of the family structure. Palo Alto kids do well because parents value education and take responsibility for their kids. Down the street in Redwood City that district is terrible because parents in most cases do not value education and in reality, the Truth, should not of had kids in the first place because not equipped to. Really all starts at home which is the cold hard fact of the matter but that is not very politically correct to say but is the truth!!!


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Posted by billy beane?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm

As mentioned before, I think the discussion about a raise is simply a product of the "market value" of quality teachers. Right now the market is showing that Districts are willing to pay more to get a (hopefully) better teacher. Look at Los Altos Mountain View USD - a new teacher right out of college is getting paid 62,102 while the same person in PAUSD will be paid 51,422. Almost $11,000!
I think family plays the most important role in a child's education but teachers are right there next in line, and unfortunately in some instances the only positive influence in a child's life - some people commenting on here make it sound like they could care less who is standing in front of their child, influencing their thinking and learning.
I think if the District were to keep pay scales where they are now, they should expect to be making some Billy Beane-like moves in order to keep the quality young teachers coming into this District and retain the ones they have now. Hard to argue with $$


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Posted by The Truth
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I say we hire Billy Beane in HR, steal him from the A's since he knows how to get the "MOST FOR NOTHING" ! as most people seem to want on this subject of teacher pay.

Good thing about USA, everyone entitled to own opinion.


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Posted by classified
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

@You go mom! - Thank you!!
Most do not remember that classified employees exist.
I believe that there are teachers who are aware of classified employees who were treated by the administration in an unacceptable way. I would have hoped to see the teachers support.
In many cases classified employees are the closest to the students.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 6, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Just wondering, is it mandatory to join one of the teacher's unions: CTA California Teacher's Association (which I understand is the most politically powerful unit in state government), NEA National Education Association, AFT and/or etc.?! I am not opposed to unions unless membership is mandatory and dues are used for political purposes, because then it is obvious it is a circular deal. I vote for you, tell my membership to vote for you, and you do as I say.


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Posted by Disheartened Teacher
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 7, 2012 at 1:07 am

As a teacher I am saddened by all of the hostile attacks on PAUSD teachers and the the few that stood up to give a voice to others. Those of you who have called out Teri and Triona and bashed them, Do you know them personally? Has your children had them for teachers? They are doing what we elected them to do. Be our voice! I have heard them both speak on behalf of children at board meetings. Fighting for smaller class sizes so that students could learn in the best environment and have more of their teacher's time. It is a shame that when teachers stands up for the students the press isn't there. Or if the press is there it isn't reported. Teachers are fighting on behalf of your children all the time, but you don't see that. It is awful to criticize someone's character because of a, what looks like, a partial quote in the paper.
I have had parents in my class to help out and after an hour they will say, "Wow, I don't know how you do this! Thank you!" If you think teaching is a cake job, try it. I do it because I am passionate about educating children, I get a lot of fulfillment out of it and I can't imagine doing anything else. Does that mean I also shouldn't be compensated for it?
I am just disheartened by the hateful comments and snap judgements made on here. I don't judge other people by how many days they work, what type of job they have and particularly if they have people in their profession that aren't good at it. If you look at ANY profession, there will be people who aren't good and supervisors who are responsible for them. Should good teachers be judged because there might be one who isn't as good? Should you be judged by how all of your coworkers perform?

Some misinformation in the posts above:
1. California teachers do not get tenure. They get permanent status, which does not mean they can't be let go if they are not performing.
2. California Teachers Association did not put out that cartoon.
3. Teacher's are not paid in the summer, so that is not paid vacation.
4. We pay into our retirement system, as you do into yours and you pay Social Security. We do not pay into Social Security and will not receive it.


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Posted by classified
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2012 at 5:23 am

@Disheartened Teacher - any compassion towards your classified "colleagues"? I would have assumed that supporting a classified "colleague" who is being treated in an unexceptionable way should be part of any educational agenda.
It is very easy not to notice. Too easy. Kids sense this "educational" atmosphere.


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Posted by ToDisheartenedTeacher
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 7, 2012 at 9:19 am

Disheartened Teacher: The comments were not hateful - they were a reaction to a teacher who clearly struck a nerve by his / her ridiculous statements. Virtually all of the discussion flowed from that. You might also be aware that the public is clearly fed up of paying ever increasing taxes a lot of which goes towards compensation for public employees of a sort that the tax payer who works for the private sector simply does not get or afford. The more you all say that you are not paid enough, the less you make your case. A salary between $70K and $100K - which is what most teachers here make combined with a pension for life that is guaranteed. Please, think twice before you make claims that anyone who objects to it is being "hateful". People are simply saying that they cannot afford to pay for this sort of gold plating.
Also whether you are paid for summer or not is besides the point. The total annual compensation is the point. A total annual compensation in the $70K-$100K range with pension is truly a luxury that you should be thankful for.
Everyone appreciates the work that teachers do. But please dont tell us that you are doing it out of goodness of heart - you do it because you have chosen this as a profession and because it pays a decent wage with benefits beyond what anyone in the private sector will ever get.


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Posted by You go Mom!
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I agree totally with the above post. Well done.

Teri? Triona? Don't be silent. If this is about kids, jump on in.

As for the classified issue, teachers do not care about you in the fiscal sense. It is a plantation mentality and it is clearly split down racial lines, you simply need to know your place. They will never join you on a picket line for your wages. The CTA will happily tell you that. As for "voluntary" union dues, the process to pay that money to a charity is horrid, just as no Palo Alto supervisor would ever attempt to start a multi-year process against a tenured (that's right, the district holds an annual party for teachers who get "tenure") teacher. That would be career suicide. Read the postings in the boards and there are plenty of examples of principals who were forced out by teachers.

CTA, Teri, Triona, and the rest have to address ineffective teachers. How many teachers would you say are ineffective in PA? One third? One percent? None? In every profession there will be a variety of effectiveness. Should we pay them all the same? What if a third-year teacher is outperforming a 30-year veteran? Is it fair to pay the third-year teacher a paltry $60K while the other pulls in $100,000? Teachers in Palo Alto make good money, if there is plenty of it, by all means give them a raise, but first, pay the classified staff more and cover more of their health benefits. Many of their salaries begin in the teens or twenties. Try surviving on that for a year in any town.


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Posted by classified
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm

@You go mom! - Again, Thank you! Your acknowledgment and support are very unusual.
I was not referring to salaries when talking about the hope for teachers support. There were situations were classified were treated by administration in a way that contradicts all the nice words of teachers, above, about themselves. I can not imagine what teachers's union would have done if a teacher was treated that way.
Kids spend many hours in the plantation, breath the compassion-less air.



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Posted by Tired
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Dec 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

I don't feel sorry for teachers. Really. 30 years in as a teacher and 30 years in as a health care provider: we make the same, with equivalent education, but I dont' have nearly the hours nor the benefits. I work 11 months per year, including Christmas, New Year's, and other holidays, and don't have the time off when my kids are off, so have to pay for help.
No raises for 6 years.
Increasing costs, about 30%, for all foods/stuff, and double the gas cost. REAL income for me has dropped 30% in the last 4 years as a result.
In addition, with the health insurance law changes, including Medicare, my job "security" is zilch. Will I have a job in 3 years? Or will I have one that has cut pay in response to the ever escalating medical care cuts?

Not whining or complaining (ok..maybe a little), but it grates on my nerves fiercely to see highly job secure folks who make more than I do per hour and get regular raises, and great benefits, want yet more out of my ever thinning pocketbook in taxes to pay them more.

So, please stop. The private world is hurting, and we are tired.


Not complaining


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Posted by classified
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 8, 2012 at 6:15 pm

@you go mom! - this thread is about fiscal news. Did you look into PAUSD administration? all levels?
"It is a plantation mentality and it is clearly split down racial lines, you simply need to know your place. " - you wrote. Best description of PAUSD.
Do you have a way to measure administration personnel/structure effectiveness? Do you know if, maybe, jobs are created to reward teachers, or administration personnel who know their place? etc.
Plantation mentality - Are you you sure that the great third year, well performing teacher you mention in your comment enjoys academic freedom? That freedom may not be one of the characteristics of such place. Do you see any other reason, except for the mentality you mentioned, that enabled the Penn State ordeal to go on so long?


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Posted by Anono
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Plantation mentality! So true. Don't make waves and keep your head down! Yup, that is Skelly's message. He's going to get the teacher's union a raise, that's his power base, and he has an understanding with them.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm

While the Palo Alto school district finds themselves with a surplus, they are enjoying robbing MY pockets of $1200 per year (and growing) for supplemental property taxes for the fabulous remodels of schools all over town - that's $1200 over and above the regular property taxes they are already enjoying. So congrats to the school district for their newfound windfall, and I'm sure showering everyone with raises and professional development using money that I earned, and might have used to pay MY bills is all wonderful and fantastic - but guess what? I work hard too, many many hours all year round, and I don't get any of this windfall benefit (or any gratitude either). My savings is down to almost nothing and my kids (and I, or both) are going to have to take out massive loans to get my kids a college eduction. So while they sit there fat and happy wondering how to dole out MY MONEY, maybe they could consider reimbursing the palo alto tax payers for ripping us all off in the first place.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm

@parent from Charleston Gardens - that "fabulous remodels of schools all over town" was approved by 78% of the voters in 2008. We collectively told the district to issue the bonds and spend the money on a long list of facility upgrades and expansions. Hopefully you and your kids (and possibly grandkids) will get to benefit from the investment.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 10, 2012 at 7:49 am

Fred, 78% of the voters in an off cycle election, allowing the school district/school tax supporters to load the palo alto ballots with supporters. Where its also FREE for senior citizens to approve the tax, because they have the opt out option. I believe the very next thing we need to get on the ballot is making it a requirement that school bonds must occur during a major election to ensure a fair representation of voters. We might also have a different outcome if all palo alto residents started paying the taxes. Their property values benefit as much as anyone elses when the schools are improved..

But regardless of that scheme, you are correct that the school district now enjoys that windfall of funding, removing money from my account to theirs. Since they are now swimming in money, I wonder if they will consider scaling back their TAKE from the residents?


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm

@parent - the election was what it was - 78% for a bond approval in any year is convincing outcome. There was nothing illegitimate about the vote, though you may not agree with the result.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm

The bond construction project is sorely needed and obvious if you have ever spent 5 minutes in any of our schools. Like it or not, we have a lot of kids around here to educate. While I would love smaller class sizes, it would be nice if we could have enough classrooms and enough desks... where they are not so crammed together it's impossible to move. I can't say the construction will be especially fancy either. In fact, it would be nice if there was some attention to the regular flooding that seems to plague Paly's campus on your average rainy day. Would that be considered a luxury?


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Posted by parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm

resident - but that's not what they're fixing, is it?

Fred, I didn't say it was illegitimate, I said that the school district and its supporters are sneaky slimy experts at how to get bond measures passed- ensuring the minimal of voter turnout, and thereby maximizing the lopsided representation of school district boosters by putting school bonds in elections where no other major issues or candidates are on the ballet.

And by giving seniors the opt out option, they are also quite wise in ensuring that the senior citizen numbers also do not show up in the voter booth to oppose the bond measures. I support the senior citizen opt out option. I also support the school district being required to put their taxation measures on major election cycles where more residents will be exposed to the issue and the vote. When that day comes you can brag all day long about 78% passage.

And now having won their election, and yet ALSO finding themselves with healthy operating surplus - question is - are they going to cease and desist in the robbing of residents to pay for their lavish spends? Are they going to refund tax payers those surpluses? Or at least put a halt to the highly damaging yearly increases in our property taxes? Its a matter of reasonable people with half a conscience doing the right thing.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Also - resident, I spend well over 5 minutes at several schools every day. And what I can tell you is that there is a TON of lavish remodeing going on. and on. and on. and on. Maybe someone here knows why JLS's entire black top - Quad, ALL outdoor sporting surfaces, bike racks, has been torn up and fenced off all summer AND ALL YEAR since - with not a single sign that they're anywhere even close to wrapping that mess up. While the students have no where to gather for any break periods, other than scattering around the border of the parking lot, sitting on the ground. WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG? And what exactly are they doing to the QUAD that is so critical and "sorely needed" that they just HAD to put it on their must have list. And how about that two story building that has robbed Fairmeadow of over 50% of their playing field, apparently forever, while they bulge the attendance of that school to bursting at the seams (apparently with more kids to come as soon as that building opens up? The kids have a little sliver of grass to play on - all 400 or so kids. Its a disgusting mess at both those schools, and doing no favors to anyone, most especially not the kids who are getting shafted.

Maybe Kevin Skelly or one of our board members would like to get a little bit real and explain what the heck is exactly going on.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Or you could stop whining, use a little initiative and read up on the projects & their status via the PAUSD website.

Web Link


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm

The following info can be found on the PAUSD website:

JLS Milestone Schedule Dates
Architect Contract Approval

October 30, 2008
Conceptual Design Approval September 8 , 2009
Schematic Design Approval June 22, 2010 & September 28, 2010
Submit to DSA May 6, 2011
Approval by DSA January 6, 2012*
Bid Opening February 21, 2012*
Award of Contract February 28, 2012*
Notice to Proceed March 12, 2012*
Substantial Completion June 24, 2013*
Planned Occupancy August 6, 2013*

Fairmeadow project site plan:

Web Link

I think there'll be more than a sliver of grass available...

Farimeadow Project Schedule

Milestone Schedule Dates
Architect Contract Approval

October 27 , 2009
Conceptual Design Approval April 6 , 2010
Schematic Design Approval September 28 , 2010
Submit to DSA April 18, 2011
Approval by DSA November 14, 2011*
Bid Opening December 6, 2012*
Award of Contract December 13, 2012*
Notice to Proceed January 3, 2013*
Substantial Completion May 8, 2013*
Planned Occupancy August 1, 2013*


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Posted by PA Voter
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 11, 2012 at 9:14 am

Whatever one's feeling about teacher's salaries, asking for a pay raise essentially because of the passage of Prop. 30 seems wrong and a slap in the face to the voters who passed it only a month ago. Before the election, we were bombarded with ads about how if Prop. 30 were not passed there would be $6B in cuts to our school budgets that would force teacher layoffs and an even shorter school year and cripple our schools.

Voters listened to the message and barely passed the broad tax (income tax on the rich, sales tax for everyone) to 'Save our Schools'.

Now in PAUSD and I assume other 'rich' school districts the message is, "Thanks for the windfall. Our budget was almost balanced and now we have a surplus. We don't have more critical needs, so we'll give our teachers a raise instead". As a yes on Prop. 30 voter I feel misled and will think long and hard before voting for any new education tax to in the future.


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