An analysis of data provided by the Palo Alto school district shows that more than 70 percent of district teachers will be earning salaries in excess of $100,000 for the upcoming 2016-17 school year if a proposed union contract is approved Tuesday, as expected, by the school board.
The figure does not include additional pay earned as a result of teachers possessing advanced degrees ($2,219 per degree).
It also does not reflect the 1 or 2 percent bonus teachers may receive at the end of next school year as stipulated in the contract.
The contract provides an immediate retroactive raise of 5 percent back to July 1, 2015, a 4 percent raise for the upcoming year beginning July 1 and a 3 percent increase in July, 2017. Up to 2 percent bonuses will also be paid for each of the next two years depending on whether property tax revenues exceed or fall short of budget projections.
To analyze the impact of the contract on teacher pay, the Weekly created spreadsheets of the current 2014-15 salary schedule and then adjusted them to reflect the proposed increases over the three years covered by the new contract, and then cross-referenced them with data provided by the district showing how many teachers are at each "step" on the schedule. All the data and spreadsheets used in the analysis are available here.
The analysis shows that 575 teachers, or 69 percent of the district's 833 teachers, will make more than $100,000 in base salary starting July 1, 2016. Almost 90 percent (741) will make more than $80,000. Additional compensation for advanced degrees will bump additional teachers above $100,000.
Under the contract, teachers work 187 days a year, or 8.6 months. If adjusted for 12 months work, the rate that would pay $100,000 for 8.6 month would equate to $140,000 annually.
The teachers' salary schedules are complicated tables containing 210 different pay levels that increase on two dimensions: number of years of experience and number of semester units earned by a teacher after attaining a bachelor's degree.
The lowest point on the scale is for a teacher with no experience and no semester units, while the highest point is for 30 or more years of experience and 90 or more units of post-bachelor's education.
As illustrated in these charts, teachers receive increases in base salary as they move across and down the salary schedule. These increases are separate from increases contained in the union contract, so many teachers experience bumps in pay far greater than the amount called for in the contract.
Data provided to the Weekly by the district shows that the vast majority of teachers (520) have maxed out on the education scale at 90 units or more. Only 13 teachers have fewer than 30 educational units.
On the years of experience measure, 31 percent of teachers have fewer than 10 years' experience, 44 percent between 10 and 20 years and 25 percent have 20 or more years of experience. Thirty-four teachers are in the highest point on the scale, with 30 or more years of experience and 90 units or more of education credits.
According to Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Scott Bowers, most teachers earn semester units through master's programs or university extension programs. But they may also be earned, up to various limits, through coursework at community colleges, independent study, private lessons and tutoring, work experience during the summer and by serving on a school site council or a district committee.
Here are two examples of how the system works:
Miss Jones will be starting her fifth year as a teacher this fall and has 30 units of credit from a master's program. Her pay this year was $66,997, but she will receive a 5 percent retroactive pay increase bringing it up to $70,347.
Next school year her pay will increase 9 percent to $76,566 because even though the contract calls for a 4 percent increase she gets an automatic 5 percent bump for having completed another year of teaching, which is based on the "step" schedule.
If Miss Jones also had finished another 15 units of coursework, her pay would increase to $80,539, or a 14 percent increase over her current year's pay and 26 percent more than her salary last school year.
Since the vast majority of Palo Alto teachers have maxed out with 90 units of educational credits, a more typical example is Mr. Smith. He is in his 19th year of teaching and has 90 units of semester credits. He earned $106,679 this school year, but like all teachers will receive the 5 percent retroactive increase once the contract is ratified. That will bring his pay to $112,013.
For the upcoming school year, he will not only receive the 4 percent increase negotiated in the contract, but because it's his 20th year he gets an additional 2.5 percent because of the step schedule. So his pay will be $119,386, an increase of 6.5 percent.
District classified employees, which include aides, maintenance, business and administrative staff, have a similar salary structure but with fewer step increases, meaning they reach the top of the salary range sooner.
Superintendent Max McGee is recommending that all principals, deans, managers, supervisors, directors and other non-union staff receive the exact same raises as the two unions, also retroactive to last July.
At its meeting two weeks ago, when the details of the proposed new contract were discussed publicly for the first time, all board members except Ken Dauber indicated their support for it, not surprising since the board discusses and directs the negotiations in closed session meetings.