News

Palo Alto school board approves 12 percent pay increases for teachers

Other employee groups, including senior administrators, will also see raises

The Palo Alto school board approved Tuesday night in a 4-to-1 vote a 12 percent base salary increase for teachers over three years, with all but one board member arguing that that level of pay hike is necessary to help the district retain and attract high-quality teachers.

Trustee Ken Dauber cast the sole dissenting vote, unsurprising given his previously voiced opposition to spending money that he has argued could be spent on both "healthy" teacher raises and significant class-size reduction at the district's middle and high schools. He has also pointed to data that suggests the district has remained competitive in teacher pay and is not facing any dire retention or recruitment issues.

A standing-room only crowd of teachers wearing Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA) T-shirts and sweatshirts in the district board room cheered and gave a long standing ovation after teacher Teri Baldwin, president of the teachers union, challenged Dauber's concerns directly. She said that in eight months of negotiations between the district and the union, class-size reduction was never discussed, though Dauber noted in his response that his goal was not to negotiate class sizes in the contract, but rather to have enough money to significantly reduce them.

To imply that teachers "intentionally" chose larger salaries over smaller classes is wrong and "misleading," Baldwin told Dauber.

"When a member of the school board publicizes misinformation, it looks like you intend to mislead the community and discredit teachers rather than work with them," Baldwin said. "Furthermore, it reflects poorly on the district as a whole.

"PAEA stands behind the reasonable and fair contract negotiated this year," she continued. "To suggest it is at the expense of what is best for students is misleading."

Dauber responded that his criticism has not been aimed at the teachers union, but rather at his own colleagues on the board.

"It's the board's responsibility to assess the cost of the contract in relation to the other needs of the district and strike a balance," he said. "That, I think, is what the board has not done."

Though no changes could be made to the new contract on Tuesday night, Dauber had suggested that the district offer teachers instead a 9 percent base salary increase over three years over three years with 1 percent one-time bonuses — a raise he said would maintain the district's position as one of the higher-paying districts locally and across the state.

Dauber estimated that the level of compensation increase would free up an additional $4.5 million annually — the equivalent of 35 teachers, which could reduce class sizes at the high schools by an average of six students, the same number at the middle schools or by three at the elementary schools, he has said.

Class sizes have become a focal point at board discussions in recent weeks after two parents published their own data analysis showing that the district is not meeting its official staffing ratios in a significant percentage of classes across the three middle schools and two high schools.

The staffing ratios are included in the teachers' contract, but was not an article the union and district opened this year for negotiation.

Baldwin told the board that the article has been "opened many times in the past in an effort to reduce middle school and high school class sizes, to no avail" and that the union would "welcome" negotiating language that guarantees lower class sizes. The last time class sizes were discussed as part of negotiations was in the 2011-12 school year, according to Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Scott Bowers.

Dauber said the goal was not to negotiate that particular article with the teachers union because "frankly ... opening up the clause with the teachers union to try to reduce class size is not going to work because we're not going to have the funds to do that."

The other four board members, however, expressed strong support for the contract, which is also thought to be Palo Alto Unified's first-ever multi-year agreement. This year's pay bump of 5 percent is also the largest increase the district has given teachers since the 2006-07 school year.

"The most important thing is excellent teachers," said trustee Melissa Baten Caswell. "The market reality is that there is a price for excellent teachers and the reality is we have less resumes coming in the pipeline right now at the price that we're paying."

"We must continue to attract and mentor and support and retain the best teachers we can," echoed board President Heidi Emberling. "Let us continue to be a destination district for educators."

While board Vice President Terry Godfrey supported the contract, she suggested that the district could "make some revisions" to the negotiations process itself — particularly to "sunshine" (to be open or available to the public) negotiations and have more public discussion informed by concrete data on key issues that affect the contract such as retention, attrition and competition.

Under the new contract, teachers will immediately see a 5 percent retroactive raise to this school year given negotiations for the current year just ended. Next year, salaries will increase by 4 percent and in 2017-18, by 3 percent.

Teachers could also receive up to 2 percent each year in "off-schedule" bonuses, which don't factor into the salary base. These bonuses are set at 1 percent but would be bumped up to 2 percent both years if property tax revenues exceed the district's projections by at least 1.5 percent, and they will be eliminated if revenues are below budget by 1.5 percent or more.

If the difference between the property tax revenues actually received in 2016-17 is either more or less than 1.5 percent of the adopted school district budget, then either party — the union or the district — can reopen negotiations on the 3 percent increase in the 2017-2018 school year, according to the new contract.

The contract will cost the district an estimated $21 million over three years. The first round of increases will cost about $7.3 million, the majority of an $8.8 million surplus that had been set aside in the 2015-16 budget for both salary increases and program additions.

The remaining surplus dollars will be used to fund the first 1 percent off-schedule bonus in the 2016-17 school year, according to Chief Budget Officer Cathy Mak. Program additions will instead be funded through the usual property-tax revenue, according to Mak.

The contract also provides that all non-union managers and supervisors, including senior administrators, receive the same increases as union members, a practice followed in previous years. The board approved in a 4-to-1 vote, with Dauber dissenting, two years of compensation increases rather than the proposed three for this group of employees at an amendment made by Baten Caswell. Her amendment included the caveat that the board will review this summer the compensation process for management employees.

Dauber made a failed motion to defer the vote on non-represented management employee raises to the board's next meeting and ask staff to return with a justification for the proposed increases beyond the "me, too" practice. Godfrey seconded his motion but the other three board members opposed it.

The board also approved in two separate 4-to-0 votes, with Dauber abstaining for each, its agreement with its classified employees union as well as compensation increases for non-represented confidential and supervisory employees.

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Comments

20 people like this
Posted by Wow, just, wow!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 25, 2016 at 8:57 am

"opened many times in the past in an effort to reduce middle and high school class sizes, at no avail" and that the union would "welcome" negotiating language that guarantees lower class sizes.

There has certainly been a lot of misinformation disseminated.

How can the paper not have found out that class size reductions had never even been mentioned as part of this negotiation? Dauber has certainly ended up with egg on his face as all this came out.


21 people like this
Posted by Reality check
a resident of Barron Park
on May 25, 2016 at 9:52 am

@wow

"[Baldwin] said that in eight months of negotiations between the district and the union, class-size reduction was never discussed, though Dauber noted in his response that his goal was not to negotiate class sizes in the contract, but rather to have enough money to significantly reduce them."

Dauber was looking to spend less money on raises in order to hire more teachers to reduce class sizes -- not to change the maximum class sizes in the teacher's contract. It's all moot though. The board spent all of the surplus, so negotiating with the teachers for lower class size maximums doesn't make sense. Unless the district wants to be out of compliance with its union contract by having classes that are too big. (Or maybe it already is?)


39 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 25, 2016 at 10:45 am

Anything in the new contract talk about how to get rid of poor performing tenured teachers?


47 people like this
Posted by Jordan parent
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 25, 2016 at 11:15 am

I am so frustrated with this decision. I have a 7th grade student at Jordan and she has huge classes because she is in the "bubble" group. Now the school board is saying to us "live with large classes for the next 5 years at Jordan and at Paly, but don't worry, after your daughter is through high school maybe we can have smaller classes." That is her whole middle school/high school career!!

I just feel like the board members are not listening to parents.


19 people like this
Posted by Midtown Guy
a resident of Midtown
on May 25, 2016 at 11:19 am

Just quibbling about language usage by a board member from a former district English teacher.

Melissa said:, "we have less resumes coming in the pipeline right now at the price that we're paying."

Look up when to use "fewer" and when to use "less."


62 people like this
Posted by PAEA endorsement
a resident of Community Center
on May 25, 2016 at 11:27 am

PAEA's make-or-break endorsement was at stake: BOE members up for re-election didn't want to take a chance. To Hell with the kids, class-size reduction when one's political future is at stake. After all, BOE is simply a stepping stone to the CC anyway for many/most members.


8 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 25, 2016 at 11:41 am

Jordan Parent said "I just feel like the board members are not listening to parents." For the record there, only one parent who got up at the meeting to speak and she supported the teachers.
One teacher (a Nixon teacher) got up and pointed out that her rent along with the rent of many other teachers went up 10% during the year (I would guess that would be $150-$250 per month) - this salary increase, after taxes, will just cover the rent increase and nothing more.


36 people like this
Posted by Jordan parent
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 25, 2016 at 11:57 am

Alphonso, it's true that I didn't go to the board meeting. It sounds like many teachers did. I did write a letter to the school board members and Dr. McGee, and I know that other parents did.

Anyways I don't think it is hard for board members to understand that classes have too many students in them and they should have spent some of the money on fixing that problem, not just on raises.

I sympathize about rent my expenses go up too but my husband's salary doesn't go up this much either. I want to give raises but I also want my daughter to be in a math class that has less than 29 students in it which is what she has now. Why didn't they do both?


25 people like this
Posted by Jordan parent2
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2016 at 12:26 pm

I was at the meeting and waited patiently in the standing room only space. However, when you have a Jordan 7th grader with two upcoming tests (and a Paly student with finals), I would rather spend QUALITY time with my child, reviewing what the teachers cannot. I could not wait, as it has been with many other meetings. My kids come first which is definitely not what the Board thinks. I'm trying to keep the "love of learning" alive and not hoping it will stay as this bubble class passes through.

I also sat in my child's classes during parent visitation day. It doesn't matter how engaging the teacher. The last row of kids are left out. The teacher doesn't have time to direct questions or check in with each child.

It was interesting seeing my child's teachers in the room last night. Each of them spent quality time with my child and she is better for it. Too bad there's none of that engagement now, in a math class of 30 kids.


10 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm

I heard the teachers say (I watched on line) they would also like to promote smaller class sizes. I just object to the way Dauber and this paper portrayed what was going on. The fact is the salary negotiation started more than six month ago and the trade off between salaries and class size was never a negotiation point - the goal was to get a long term agreement with salaries lower than what was demanded by the union. So after months of negotiation, salary compromises by both sides and after the contract was ratified by both sides Dauber decided to bring up the salary/class size trade off - if it was important it should have been brought up before the negotiation. If the Board had voted no last night both sides would have gone back to the negotiation table and very likely we would have ended up with three one year agreements - a huge waste of time and likely the teachers would have demanded more than what they got in this contract. [Portion removed due to inaccurate factual assertion.] Now the Board can focus on more important issues than salary negotiations and hopefully they will look at class size reductions. By the way, several articles I have seen in PA Online sounded like they were written by Ken Dauber instead of independent minded journalists - this paper is like reading a tabloid at the grocery store checkout stand.


42 people like this
Posted by Grrrr
a resident of Monroe Park
on May 25, 2016 at 1:01 pm

I have noticed from past board ( and city council) meetings, that they leave the really important stuff for last. So late that it finally comes up after 11:00, when most people give up because they have to get up early and go to work.

Makes me sick, because I feel certain they do this purposely to avoid objections to their actions.


7 people like this
Posted by skeptic
a resident of Ventura
on May 25, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Nice misleading headline, Palo Alto Online.
You just love stirring the pot.


45 people like this
Posted by Grrrr...
a resident of Monroe Park
on May 25, 2016 at 1:26 pm

I don't object to teachers getting bigger raises than I get, or having better benefits ( and more of them), BUT I object to all the administrators getting salary increases.

There are too many administrators in most districts, but especially in PAUSD, They make more money than most of the parents here! If anything, administrators should be getting pay cuts-- they don't have enough work to justify their salaries. Lay off half of them and maybe then they could earn their keep!


27 people like this
Posted by It grows on trees
a resident of Community Center
on May 25, 2016 at 1:48 pm

Now that there is a three year contract the board will have more time to talk about class size reductions. But just like the board discussed wonderful new programs this year that we cannot fund, our district will not be able to fund the teachers needed to even hold the line at our current overcrowded high school class sizes.
I didn't hear any solutions to this problem last night. Ms. Emberling said we can just wait until enrollment numbers decline perhaps in four years. Dr. McGee said they would try to hold the maximum class size to 35. Ms. Godfrey implied we could dip into our reserves but is that prudent or sustainable? We just passed a parcel tax to reduce class sizes so we can't look for more money from tax payers. I don't blame this on our teachers or their union. It's just unfortunate that our administrators and the majority of our board did not do the math.


16 people like this
Posted by Reality check
a resident of Barron Park
on May 25, 2016 at 1:49 pm

@Alphonso says, "So after months of negotiation, salary compromises by both sides and after the contract was ratified by both sides Dauber decided to bring up the salary/class size trade off - if it was important it should have been brought up before the negotiation."

Dauber suggested at the board meeting last night that he has consistently had the same position on a smaller raise to free up money for teacher hiring throughout the negotiations. No one contradicted him. He said the same thing in the video interview I watched with Heidi Emberling. She didn't contradict him either. Obviously the board disagreed with him and instructed the negotiator to agree to a higher number. Are you saying that he should keep quiet, and not let the public know about the cost of the decision the rest of the board made?

I didn't hear board members say, "We would have loved to give 9% rather than 12%, but we just couldn't get agreement from the union at that number. So Dauber is all wet." Instead, they defended 12% as necessary to have high quality teachers. That means to me that the board voluntarily paid more than the union would have settled at, because the board members thought it was the right raise number.

When I am looking at school board candidates in November, all of that is going to be useful information for me to know. I will expect Emberling and maybe Caswell to explain why they chose 12% over 9%, and decided it was less important to hire more teachers than to give an additional 3%. Maybe they have a better reason than I heard at the board meeting last night and in the interview I saw with Emberling.


7 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on May 25, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Congratulations.

Well deserved pay plan.

Enjoy and expectations are high that you will do a great job educating our children.

Respectfully


29 people like this
Posted by Unbalanced power
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2016 at 2:13 pm

@Jordan parent,
"I sympathize about rent my expenses go up too but my husband's salary doesn't go up this much either."

Yes, our own salary has not kept pace with the taxes levied by the district. Teachers are already making more than a lot of us here. We have given sacrificially to our schools. I was always a big supporter of public education, but I'm becoming a voucher supporter! I wonder how many schools we could pay for just on our bloated adminstrator costs?


1 person likes this
Posted by Question
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 25, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Some questions--if we hire approximately 33-35 more teachers to teach for the next 5 or so years during the bubble, what will we do with them when the bubble passes? Fire them? And where will those 33-35 teachers be teaching in the meantime? Do we have enough actual classrooms for all these new classes to run at the same time? Or is the cost actually 35 new teachers AND new facilities as well for the new, reduced class sizes?


21 people like this
Posted by Board Communication Failure
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 25, 2016 at 3:04 pm

These events show weaknesses in PAUSD executive management and Board oversight of the process.

1. The Board made a change in practice, negotiating contracts for up to 3 years instead of shorter period

2. The Board did not anticipate public concern resulting from the change, a large number for a 3 year salary increase and bonuses, with an especially large increase for senior managers

3. The Board told it's team to negotiate the amounts, without preparing the public for the implications of the change. It let the public be surprised.

4. A Board member stated his views he disagreed with the numbers negotiated.

5. That Board Member's views did not prevail in the vote.

6. However, some of the points that Board Member raised did prevail. The Board majority did think how senior managers receive raises and bonuses should be examined. These points were considered valid enough to bring a Resolution different from what PAUSD executives recommended to the Board. The alternative resolution passed.

This says elected officials failed to prepare the public for a change they were making, failed to correct inaccurate information such as executives who do not receive automatic increases (which could have been corrected in a press release or Superintendent's Weekly). This allowed public surprise and opposition to a large number to be framed as an opposition to teachers.

The Board and Superintendent should have anticipated public concern from change and been forthcoming with information. The Superintendent should have prepared the Board for the opposition, and advised educating the public of the reasoning behind it. That was the Superintendent's job.

Even if the Superintendent failed to do this, the Board should have been prepared for questions, confusion and opposition arising from a major policy change it made. The final responsibility rests with the Board.


9 people like this
Posted by Answers
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2016 at 3:20 pm

@Question -

1- yes, we hire for the bubble and then lay off. T'was always thus in education.

2 - yes, there is room. To the extent that more is needed, portables can be added, which are a nice or nicer than permanent classrooms


Like this comment
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 25, 2016 at 4:00 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on May 25, 2016 at 4:25 pm

@Question of Palo Alto High - per the PA Weekly analysis, there are 34 teachers with 30+ years experience. It would be reasonable to predict a large percentage of those teachers will be retiring in the next 5 - 10 years.


8 people like this
Posted by Dauber voter
a resident of Community Center
on May 25, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Wow Alphonso is pretty nasty! Ken wrote about exactly the compensation/class size trade-off on his blog in April: Web Link. I got it in an email from him as a newsletter. It's hard to be blindsided when a school board member publishes his opinion and sends it out to the community.


10 people like this
Posted by Rebecca
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 25, 2016 at 4:27 pm

I am the one parent who spoke up regarding the Teacher Union contract, and as Alphonso noted, I did and do support the teachers.

I also want to point out that I too have a child in the "Bubble Class" at Jordan. In fact, my daughter is in the very largest math class -- the Algebra 7A class with 33 students.

Notably, my daughter -- who, granted, is very strong at math -- said that the large class size for the most part is not posing any issue for her because the teacher is so strong. My daughter noted that the class size originally had been smaller, but that many parents lobbied for their children to be moved to the accelerated math lane, even if the student did not qualify originally. I wonder whether some of the challenge that some families are having in this math class may have to do with a math placement that may not be the most appropriate for those students? I don't know -- just tossing out ideas.

That said, it goes without saying that smaller class sizes benefit everyone -- teachers, students, families and staff. I don't think that anyone objects to smaller class sizes, and in fact, I heard uniform support for reducing class size.

The logical error, however, is in thinking that smaller classes can somehow be obtained by reducing teacher salary. If teachers are paid less, they will be less likely to be able to afford to live here, and they will leave. For people who own their home (like Mr. Dauber, I am guessing), living expenses are generally fixed on a year-over-year basis. But the vast majority of teachers *rent* their homes, and typical rent increases in this area range from 5-10% annually. Add that with the increased cost of health insurance, and the reality is that for most teachers, take-home pay has been decreasing rather than increasing. I think that most people understand that teachers do not enter that line of work for the money. But at very least we should recognize that the teachers -- the lifeblood and cornerstone of our educational system -- deserve to be compensated fairly and adequately.

This is why the continued assertion -- one continually stated by Mr. Dauber despite its logical and factual fallacy -- that reducing teacher compensation would lead to reduced class size is absurd. Reducing teacher compensation would cause us to lose teachers. Losing teachers would cause us to increase class size. In other words, reducing teacher salaries leads to larger class sizes (not to mention lower quality teachers as we lose the best teachers to other districts). Mr. Dauber's argument violates this fundamental rule of economics -- a rule for which there lacks exception. So, if Dauber got his way (and thank G-d he did not), his strategy not only would fail, but it would generate the exact opposite results he seeks: instead of hiring more teachers, the District would lose teachers, and instead of having more classes of smaller sizes, the District could be forced either to hire less qualified or skilled teachers, and/or increase class size when it cannot hire sufficient teachers to fill each class. Remember, no matter what may have been said by Mr. Dauber, it is universally agreed upon that our country and in particular our state, faces an accelerating teacher shortage.

Thus, although what is clear is that reducing teacher compensation will *not* decrease class size, what remains the real challenge here is what resources we can leverage to fund class size reduction. Given that Prop 13 continues to drain our school district (and every school district in CA) of essential revenue from the residents who are in the best position to provide it, we don't have a lot of sources for the funding to solve this problem. What other program should be de-funded to fund the hiring of more teachers for more classes? The many programs approved by the Board last night -- including Wellness Centers for teens, athletic funding, and school-based psychologists -- also are crucial to our District's success.

I dearly hope that other parents will consider these points, and join me in supporting the people who change our children's lives on a daily basis -- their fantastic, PAUSD teachers.


Like this comment
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 25, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Dauber Voter - did you read the email? - you would have noted that that he posted it after the negotiations had ended, which was my point. [Portion removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Dauber voter
a resident of Community Center
on May 25, 2016 at 4:37 pm

That's an amazing view of economics. Dauber proposed a slightly smaller raise in salary, using the saving to hire more teachers. Palo Alto would still have been in exactly the same competitive position as it is now. I'm sorry, but your reasoning doesn't make sense.


13 people like this
Posted by A Parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 25, 2016 at 5:23 pm

Wow, that is an interesting line of argument. But this isn't just theory, we need to look at the facts, right - if we aren't paying what the market requires, more teachers will be leaving and possibly new qualified ones won't apply. The data right now is unclear on both - since, somewhat scarily, the District never meaningfully studied either question in getting ready for its negotiation.

As Dauber said, the limited data we have suggests that teachers aren't leaving very much (4 a year resigning to take other positions), and that qualified ones continue to come (applicants up from last year, all positions filled, no increase in new hires not making the cut to be retained). Others argued that the data wasn't solid - probably true, but this is all stuff you should study rigorously BEFORE entering into a unprecedented 3 year contract. No one did.

Terry & Melissa hold themselves out as financially responsible business people - they let us down. This is the biggest contract ever for PAUSD, and the analysis done to support the decision consisted of "how much can we afford?" Sad really.


7 people like this
Posted by Dauber voter
a resident of Community Center
on May 25, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Alphonso, he posted it on April 10, over a month before negotiations ended. I kind of wonder at people who post things that are obviously false. Is the idea just to spin unwary readers?


5 people like this
Posted by good grief
a resident of College Terrace
on May 25, 2016 at 6:26 pm

"Dauber suggested at the board meeting last night that he has consistently had the same position on a smaller raise to free up money for teacher hiring throughout the negotiation. No one contradicted him. "

Yes they did. Read the article. Teri Baldwin stated that PAEA would have welcomed reduced class sizes being part of the negotiations but no one on the board wanted them to be part of the negotiations.

Dauber even stated: "the goal was not to negotiate that particular article with the teachers union because "frankly ... opening up the clause with the teachers union to try to reduce class size is not going to work because we're not going to have the funds to do that."

Exactly! Read it! Dauber's admitted that reduced class sizes were never part of his negotiation stance with PAEA. Then he stands up and claims we can reduce the negotiated settlement to reduce the class sizes. How on earth can anyone consider that negotiating in good faith?

[Portion removed.]


31 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Midtown
on May 25, 2016 at 6:43 pm

Very interesting to see the union go after Dauber for telling the public what is going on.

I can't tell if Baldwin was sincere or not in attacking Dauber for suggesting a 9% raise rather than 12%. Here's what actually happened: Baldwin "said that in eight months of negotiations between the district and the union, class-size reduction was never discussed, though Dauber noted in his response that his goal was not to negotiate class sizes in the contract, but rather to have enough money to significantly reduce them."

Dauber was trying to reserve some of our money to hire teachers to reduce class size. He probably wasn't interested in negotiating with the union for lower maximum class sizes in the teacher contracts. The district is probably already violating the contract anyway.

The real story is the union held out a bushel and the school board filled it with money. Good for the union, bad for kids who have to sit in overcrowded classrooms.


4 people like this
Posted by read it again
a resident of Greater Miranda
on May 25, 2016 at 7:09 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.]


5 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of Barron Park
on May 25, 2016 at 7:19 pm

Oh my God people it's all about class dynamic. There are really crappy classes with 20 kids and really great classes with 30 kids. Are you savvy enough to cater to the 30 or lazy enough to cater to the 14 ignoring the other 2 who you don't know what to do with? That is where the paycheck is earned and I've been teaching for 18 years ....put up or shut up. At least on the secondary level. And do us all a favor and make the responsible decision not to make families before you get out of renter's dilemma. Da%^.


24 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Midtown
on May 25, 2016 at 7:31 pm

I love it. The board decides to give away the store, and it's Daubers fault for not stopping them! I don't blame PAEA for taking a big raise. It's the board's job to set priorities. It's kind of sickening though for PAEA to run political interference for their board members.


6 people like this
Posted by enlightened reader
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on May 25, 2016 at 7:50 pm

PAEA didn't ride interference, they told it like it was. No board member, including Dauber, wanted to introduce class size reductions into the contract.

You need to take a serious look at this board and find out why they didn't want to restrict class sizes to the specified guidelines. Teri noted that PAEA would have welcomed that proposal.


30 people like this
Posted by Ben
a resident of Downtown North
on May 25, 2016 at 8:10 pm

Wait for it, at the next election, look for Max to demand that we pay for yet another parcel tax or else; libraries, art, music and classroom aids will be cut. Why? Because, well, PAUSD is soo poor and has not enough money for classroom instruction and they have no idea why.


30 people like this
Posted by Meausre A again
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2016 at 8:46 pm

You folks voted for the Parcel Tax, you gave to PiE, donated to PTA, you have yourselves to thank. Remember the lie that if we didn't pass Measure A dozens of teachers would be laid off? So-called intelligent Palo Altans seem to be the easiest to fool.


14 people like this
Posted by Owned
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 26, 2016 at 7:40 am

Four fools on the board. 20000 fooled in the parent community.


6 people like this
Posted by Question
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 26, 2016 at 8:06 am

@Answers...thank you for your candid reply. Hopefully potential new-hires will find it in the research of this district. Candidate beware, indeed.

Some other info: This year, other districts offered a 5k signing bonus and matching offers to new-hires--particularly in the STEM and SPED areas. Just to be aware of how competitive it is getting to hire for excellent teachers.


13 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on May 26, 2016 at 8:11 am

There should be a Prop 13 for parcel taxes. I couldn't care less what my parcel tax is because I can easily afford it. Many other people, especially those on fixed incomes, cannot afford an out of control tax and spend infrastructure.


13 people like this
Posted by We need vouchers
a resident of Midtown
on May 26, 2016 at 9:31 am

If we are going to pay continuously I would like the choice of where that money goes. A voucher program would balance things evenly between the teacher unions / incompetent board on one side and gouged parents on the other. If there was ever a poster child of a school district that needed a voucher program it is this. At least with a voucher my money would be mine to do how I best choose to spend it.


34 people like this
Posted by Unbalanced power
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2016 at 9:57 am

I am totally bowled over by the faultiness of @Rebecca's "logic". I hope that's not a sample of what we have in our classrooms.

No one was calling to "reduce" anyone's salaries, only to offer a magnificent raise instead of an excessive one that took all the money that could have been applied to things we were promised when we voted for a tax for that money.

Anyone - teacher, whatever - who wants to live for a long time in the Bay Area, not just Palo Alto, has to at some point bite the bullet and buy. Almost no one can buy anything decent or even where they want to live as a starter home. This has been true for many decades in this area. It is not the district's responsibility to subsidize the housing market in this area, rents as long as I can remember have never been comfortable for an ordinary person to pay. The difference between what was given away here and what Dauber was suggesting is not that great a difference to the teachers, but it is a big difference to our kids. There is absolutely no evidence that teachers are leaving for other districts, and plenty of evidence that Palo Alto already pays really well.

The argument that more money always equals better performance is also flawed. A plethora of business research shows that paying too much relative to the norm can hurt performance. A quote for the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink: "In 2009, scholars at the London School of Economics - alma mater of eleven Nobel laureates in economics - analyzed fifty-one studies of corporate pay-for-performance plans. ...conclusion: 'We find that financial incentives ... Can resulti n a negative impact on overall performance.'" (This book really has to be read in totality to get a full picture of when money helps and hurts performance.)

But, another poster hit the real reason: we have an election coming up. Emberling's ambition to higher office (beyond CC) has seemed to me to be a factor in her behavior on the board far more than any concern for doing the right thing by our kids. Yes, definitely this was all about getting the PAEA endorsement for the upcoming election. I respect Dauber all the more for standing up and being reasonable in the face of that. For the first time in my life, I finally understand what all the rancor is against teachers' unions, which I used to support. The evidence of unbalanced power is in the teachers' union being unable to even give anything except specious, self-serving arguments. Arrogance tends to go along with those who have too much power.

All I can say is: parents, if you don't do something to create some power balance between teachers, adminstrators AND parents, this district will never be run well. Right now, parents have no real power. Teachers will take the money and continue to dump all over the parents who give sacrificially, do their jobs for them to educate their kids whenever there are problems, provide them the easiest working conditions in the business, and are in total about the easiest population to work with in American schools. Many kids who need accommodations will continue to be ignored or dealt with harshly.



11 people like this
Posted by Unbalanced power
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2016 at 10:03 am

@Vouchers,
I never thought I'd hear myself saying it, but I agree. However, saying it will never make it so. People who care have to put some effort into figuring out why previous efforts have failed, and how to create a system that is fair and allows people the choice to do what their kids need when the schools run amok.


36 people like this
Posted by Reality check
a resident of Barron Park
on May 26, 2016 at 10:12 am

@Unbalanced power, I agree with you about the speciousness of Rebecca's argument and your take on how unbalanced the deal is. I don't think it's really a problem of teacher union power though.

I noticed that Dauber pointed squarely to the board as the problem, not the union, even after he was attacked vociferously by the union president. The other board members were enthusiastic about giving the whole surplus in raises, and not reserving any money for all of the other district needs. Townsend was alternately giddy and snarling about it.

Why did they do that? I suppose it could be craving union endorsement in the next election, or the one after that. A simpler explanation is that Emberling, Caswell, Townsend, and Godfrey don't really understand what they are doing, and shouldn't be trusted with spending the public's money wisely. I definitely got that impression listening to the board meeting, where none of them used any data or performed anything recognizable as analysis. I don't think they are nefarious, a simpler explanation is that they are just incompetent. The Peter Principle is now governing our school board.


6 people like this
Posted by DIY School
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2016 at 11:01 am

@Vouchers,

Not everyone can homeschool, I understand that, but some of the public charter homeschooling options for those in this area offer something like a voucher. You can have up to $1100/semester to spend on educational materials and classes for your student. You can blend "regular" and online learning. The schools, being public schools, will take care of the public school requirements for you, e.g. standardized tests and fitness requirements. Depending on the school, you might be assigned an accredited teacher who is familiar with grade standards to help your student stay on track with the expected work. If families have flexible schedules, there are alternatives to PAUSD. Some like the good reputation of PAUSD, but the district's reputation has been under scrutiny locally and nationally in recent times.


2 people like this
Posted by the truth
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 26, 2016 at 11:58 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Unbalanced power
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2016 at 12:12 pm

@DIY school,
Actually, I think some of the charters give over $2000, that can be used at most of the good ala carte resources and online classes. So they are kind if like vouchers, but nothing like the persrudent resources the district gets.


Like this comment
Posted by Unbalanced power
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2016 at 12:18 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


2 people like this
Posted by the truth!
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 26, 2016 at 12:39 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2016 at 1:30 pm

The biggest problem with this, as I see it, is that it gives the raise right across the board. Not only do the excellent teachers who we want to retain receive this incentive to stay, but the raise also goes to those terrible teachers who we want to leave. Giving terrible teachers an incentive to remain is not in the best interests of our students.

Not only is this about class sizes, but there is also the discussion of what is to be done with those teachers who have no business in our classrooms any longer.


23 people like this
Posted by Paly Student
a resident of Midtown
on May 26, 2016 at 7:12 pm

As a Paly student, I think keeping class sizes low is helpful. Individual attention is damn near impossible in classes too large. It's also true that some teachers deserve a serious kick in the ass to do their job right. Blazing through a powerpoint presentation while spewing out formulas that whiz over students' heads isn't getting it done. I once had a chemistry teacher who needed to LEARN CHEMISTRY from the other teacher.


16 people like this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 26, 2016 at 9:28 pm

Marc Vincenti is a registered user.

Shrinking our high-school class sizes--routinely above 30 students--is the #1 proposal from Save the 2,008, the Palo Alto grassroots coalition to bring hope to our high-schoolers.

We're now 468-strong and are students and teachers, professors and physicians, martial arts instructors and artists, engineers, drama and music instructors, rabbis and pastors, attorneys, LMFTs, and an Academy Award winner (Gunn, '84)!

You can join us with just the keystrokes of your name, at: savethe2008.com

Sincerely,

Marc Vincenti
Campaign Coordinator and former Gunn teacher


23 people like this
Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 27, 2016 at 8:11 am

I guess everybody cares how many kids are in a classroom except for the school board.


12 people like this
Posted by It grows on trees
a resident of Community Center
on May 27, 2016 at 12:28 pm

@ frustrated
I share your frustration with this board. Everyone supports smaller class sizes. Only Mr Dauber had the courage to let the public know that high school class sizes will be increasing far beyond the accepted upper limit of 28.5 and there won't be future funds to address this. Ms. Townsend and Ms. Caswell claimed this would be solved with the 2 million additional budget for new teachers, however only $750,000 is allocated for high school teachers, 3 at each campus. This will not keep up with the bubble classes coming through the high schools beginning next year. At best it will hold the line for next year.


13 people like this
Posted by Nauseous
a resident of Midtown
on May 27, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Nauseous is a registered user.

Sickens me that I have a master's degree, but now schoolteachers are making more money than I do. Bad enough when they simply had better benefits and pension package. Not once in my career have I had such large raises without changing jobs, and certainly I don't get raises so frequently.

Unless I am dangerously ill, I can't get a whole week off, much less a whole summer! Most of Silicon Valley is in the same boat.!


10 people like this
Posted by Board watcher
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 27, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Actually the school board allocated only $375k for high school teachers for next year, enough for 3 in all. I guess one school gets 1 and the other 2. The other $375k is for the following year and is contingent on property tax revenues.

When your high school student is sitting in a math class with 32 students next year, thank the board - except for Dauber. If the board had listened to him that class would have 26 students instead.


7 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 28, 2016 at 10:31 am

@Nauseous-

Go back and get your teaching credential and maybe you can co-teach with me. We can split all the papers I'm grading right now.


5 people like this
Posted by Teacher age
a resident of Stanford
on May 28, 2016 at 10:57 am

Is there a maximum age for a new teacher in pausd?

I've retired, but have always found myself comfortable in academic environments and can teach math. Have lots of experience working long hours at Silicon Valley high tech companies.


13 people like this
Posted by Attacks
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 1, 2016 at 4:37 pm

I was disturbed by the actions of the head of the teacher's union. I am a member of another union. I was in favor of the teacher's getting the raise as negotiated. The District made and accepted offers, and they needed to stand by them. My revulsion was the speech criticizing Mr. Dauber. It took his financial concern and tried to re-frame it as an issue of "no one put class size on the table during the negotiations." No one said they did.

The speech was uncomfortable because it created an "us vs. them" dynamic. Other Board members also expressed views and were not attacked by the union. Ms. Godfrey's statements made it clear teachers knew they were sacrificing class size reduction for a raise. No one criticized her personally. It was clear from the start Mr. Dauber did not have the votes to get his way. He even said so. So his exercise was a rhetorical one. He was performing his duty to express his concerns, even if the union and other Board members disagreed.

In fairness some board members did this as well. Using comments that "I vote yes because I support teachers" sent a message "if you vote no, you are against teachers teachers." ( Both 9% and 12 % are both highly supportive raises for teachers.) Ms. Townsend's behavior was sad, using the Board dais as a bully pulpit to criticize the press coverage and blog posters she felt gave out wrong information. The Board controls all District information. The Board has the knowledge and the power to distribute it. If there was a miscommunication or misinformation, the Board should have corrected it earlier. The Board had adequate time to do this. It had a Web site and access to the press.

We've gone through 4 years with a Special Education department and law firm that attacked its disabled students and families. Any person who dared stand up and defend them was attacked and criticized by the Board members. We watched the use of techniques such as limiting information and re-framing issues into "us vs. them". The union president and Board members are all high level elected officials. They need to make an attempt at kindness toward children and their families, all children and families, not just the ones they agree with and like. We know they think everyone else is unfair to them, but it doesn't matter. It comes with the choice to be high level elected policy officials holding the lives of children in their hands. Students and families did not choose to take these jobs, the officials did. They have all worked hard. No one is criticizing Board of Union commitment. But it is time to stop using these tactics. Stop re-framing issues to create disputes that don't exist. Stop demeaning individuals and their beliefs. We need to move on.


3 people like this
Posted by Thank you Ken!
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 8, 2016 at 1:27 am

Thank you Ken Dauber!
You are a man of integrity. You sure earned my respect.


6 people like this
Posted by Remember
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 19, 2017 at 7:33 am

Wow! It was almost a year ago when Board President [Emberling] and Vice-President Godfrey lead us into the financial crisis our schools are facing.

...and we trusted them by voting for Measure A!

Amazing that, even with extra funds they managed to plunge us into program-cutting crisis mode.

Ah, memories...I'm going to have to remember this when the next election comes up.


2 people like this
Posted by I Remember Too
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 26, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Yes, what a mess! I am glad Emberlyn is out for good. Hopefully Ms. Godfrey will stop and thik, next time it is time to make wise decisions.


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