Teacher pay: the nuts and bolts

Palo Alto Unified officials express concern, but state data shows district pays well

Palo Alto teachers, school district officials and a majority of the Board of Education have said the large, multiyear raises are necessary to help the district retain and attract high-quality teachers, given the Bay Area's increasingly high cost of living and the allure of nearby districts with higher pay. (Read "Salary hikes could put pressure on Palo Alto school district budget")

The new contract "enables us to retain our ranking, which is a far cry from the top of the pack," Superintendent Max McGee said at the May 10 board meeting.

Board member Melissa Baten Caswell called it "a big problem" that, according to Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Scott Bowers, the district is seeing lesser-quality teachers apply for jobs in Palo Alto because of non-competitive pay.

School board member Ken Dauber, however, has said that data shows Palo Alto's pay compares favorably to local and comparable districts. He also pointed to a teacher-attrition rate of just 23 teachers over the last five years.

So how, exactly, does Palo Alto stack up when it comes to teacher pay? According to the California Department of Education, Palo Alto Unified pays the highest teacher salaries among the state's 330 K-12 unified school districts with more than 3,500 students. Read on for more details on average pay and salary increases in other local districts.


Average beginning teacher salary (2013-14)

California unified school districts with 10,000 to 20,000 students: $43,062*

Palo Alto Unified: $55,100 (2013-14 salary schedule); $57,600 (2014-15 salary schedule); with proposed 5% increase: $60,480

Average veteran teacher salary

California unified school districts with 10,000 to 20,000 students (2013-14): $87,811

Palo Alto Unified: $111,200 (2013-14 salary schedule; $116,000 (2014-15 salary schedule); with proposed 5% increase: $121,800


Average teacher pay in comparable districts, 2014-15*

The Palo Alto district's human resources department uses the following list of districts for compensation comparisons, even though several are elementary or high school districts with much smaller student populations than Palo Alto's.

1. Mountain View-Los Altos High School District (3,800 students): $113,792

2. Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District (3,200 students): $102,240

3. Menlo Park City Elementary School District (2,900 students): $100,890

4. Palo Alto Unified (12,400 students): $95,811

5. Hillsborough City School District (1,530 students): $94,811

6. San Mateo Union High School District (8,100 students): $93,795

7. Sequoia Union High School District (9,400 students): $89,181

8. Fremont Union High School District (10,700 students): $85,586

9. Milpitas Unified (10,200 students): $80,570

10. Campbell Union School District (K-8; 7,700): $74,377

11. Campbell Union High School District (7,400 students): $72,465

Average teacher pay in similar-sized K-12 unified districts

1. Palo Alto Unified (12,400 students): $95,811

2. Pleasanton (15,000 students): $89,522

3. Santa Clara Unified (15,000 students): $85,112

4. Carlsbad (11,000 students): $76,146

5. Napa Valley (18,000 students): $72,801

6. Berkeley (9,400 students): $71,133

7. Alameda (10,000 students):$67,845

8. South San Francisco (9,000 students): $65,722

Comparable districts' salary increases in 2015-16

Fremont Union: 7.68%

Campbell Union: 5.5%

Mountain-View Los Altos: 5% + 1.7% off-schedule increases

Palo Alto Unified proposed: 5%

Sequoia Union: 5%

Milpitas Unified: 4%

San Mateo Union: 3.5%

Hillsborough: 2.5%

Menlo Park City: not settled

Los Gatos-Saratoga: not settled

PAUSD teacher salary increases over the last 10 years

2014-15: 4.5 percent (retroactive) + 0.5 off-schedule payment

2013-14: 4 percent + 2 percent off-schedule payment

2012-13: 3 percent + 1.5 percent off-schedule payment

2011-12: 1 percent off-schedule payment

2010-11: 0 percent

2009-10: 0 percent

2008-09: 2.5 percent + 2.5 percent off-schedule payment

2007-08: 2.5 percent

2006-07: 5 percent

*Source: California Department of Education


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Editor's note: This story was updated to include the 2013-14 teacher salary information from Palo Alto Unified to compare to statewide teacher pay in 2013-14, the most recent year data is available.

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