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Palo Alto Unified assistant superintendent for human resources to retire

Scott Bowers had overseen personnel matters, negotiations for 12 years

The Palo Alto school district's longtime assistant superintendent for human resources, Scott Bowers, plans to retire at the end of this school year, he confirmed to the Weekly Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Bowers first started in the district as Palo Alto High School's assistant principal in 1993. He next served as Fairmeadow Elementary School's principal before moving to his current position at the district office 12 years ago.

Bowers' role has a wide reach in the district. In addition to overseeing employment, payroll, benefits, staff evaluations and discipline, Bowers negotiates the teachers and classified unions' contracts on behalf of the district, including its most recent three-year contract approved last spring. Bowers' role as the district's bargaining representative has drawn criticism in recent years given he ultimately receives a pay increase equal to what he has negotiated with the unions.

Bowers also is tasked with conducting personnel investigations, such as the allegations of misconduct reported to the district in 2014 about former Paly English teacher Kevin Sharp.

Bowers' retirement could mean a restructuring of the district's union contracts negotiating team, Superintendent Max McGee said Wednesday. Before Bowers made his decision, the district started looking at creating a "larger" negotiating group that would involve the assistant superintendent for human resources, but not necessarily as the lead representative, McGee said.

Bowers started his career 26 years ago as a mathematics teacher. He also served as assistant director of the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) for two years.

"I've been in public education here in California for — let's see, where are we at? 26 years. It was just the right time," he said of his retirement.

Bowers is the district's second-highest paid administrator after McGee. He will earn $219,000 this school year, including a $450-per-month car allowance.

Bowers will stay with the district through the end of the school year in June. McGee said the district plans to advertise and hopefully fill the position as soon as possible.


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21 people like this
Posted by Community Member
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 9:51 pm

Such a loss for the district. Such a caring person of high integrity. So diplomatic, measured, thoughtful, & honest. Scott Bowers was the "human face" in the district office. He saw each student, parent, teacher, as a valuable individual and deeply cared about students, and teachers. He traveled a bumpy road during difficult times in the district, always having to think far ahead about every decision & action. I hope Scott Bowers knows how much he was appreciated and admired. He had a very, very, difficult and often thankless job, at best. Impossible to fill his shoes. Best to you, Scott Bowers. Thanks for all of your years of intelligent, wise, fair, honest, and caring service. You will be so missed.

7 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 25, 2017 at 11:02 pm

The district office was so insular, it's hard for the public to really judge.

Correction to the article. When Bowers negotiated with the teachers union, he nit only gave himself a bonus, he gave himself a 2x bonus - wasn't his wife a teacher benefiting from the raise?

2 people like this
Posted by Ashley
a resident of Addison School
on Jan 26, 2017 at 1:34 am

Not a saint but not a complete sellout either.
Must have been an incredibly diffcult job finding and hiring new quality teachers in the area with the inbalance between salary and cost of living in the area.
[Portion removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 26, 2017 at 2:32 am

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]

13 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2017 at 8:07 am

Bowers seems like a nice guy but I was not impressed with his performance. He negotiated a crippling raise with the union, didn't investigate Kevin Sharp for grooming after parents complained, and failed to use the most used system for job applications while complaining about recruitment. My question is what took McGee so long to ease him out?

Like this comment
Posted by Stew
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 26, 2017 at 11:00 am

[Post removed.]

8 people like this
Posted by Sean Giffen
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 26, 2017 at 11:01 am

Thanks for your service Scott!

11 people like this
Posted by parent teacher
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 26, 2017 at 11:12 am

I echo the sentiment, "what a loss for PAUSD." I am a teacher, and I am a taxpayer. I live the two sides of many of the issues upon which Dr. Bowers has been the lead negotiator. Whenever I've observed him in action, Dr. Bowers has behaved in a thoughtful and understanding way. Contrary to the uninformed ad hominem views of some participants in this thread, I think of Dr. Bowers as a tough negotiator, looking out for the bottom line, as he should. But he is also a compassionate and fair man. Both educators and taxpayers have been lucky to have his long institutional memory guiding the HR department at PAUSD.

5 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 26, 2017 at 11:19 am

We have a union member who loves Bowers and a budget deficit because of a huge raise he negotiated. Send clear enough to me.

7 people like this
Posted by Darice
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 26, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Congrats on your retirement Scott! Enjoy your "free" time, you deserve it! I enjoyed working with you at Fairmeadow and at Churchill. (Do you still have that picture of you in a boat on Lake Fairmeadow?) Kudos to you for all you have done for our children.

1 person likes this
Posted by Amazedbutnotamused
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2017 at 8:30 am

There are more than a few "alternate facts" floating around in these comments. I'll address just one. Dr. Bowers did not negotiate his own pay raise and bonus as part of the collective bargaining process. His position reports to the Board of Education. His contract is determined by the Board, and the Board only.

To state, or even imply, that he negotiated contracts with the unions with his own and his wife's salaries in mind is, well, Trumpian, if that's an acceptable term. His wife, had she been a male, would probably have been a major league baseball player, such was her talent at Stanford. I bring that up to note that she was (and is) eminently qualified to be an Athletic Director at Paly, and also a math teacher.

3 people like this
Posted by W
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2017 at 11:59 am

What's up with the Weekly's obsession over how much people are paid?

3 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Dr. Bowers appeared to do his job professionally and to care about the district. I recall he used to present photos from district events (at BoE meetings), adding to knowledge, understanding and enjoyment in this district. Thank you.

1 person likes this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 27, 2017 at 4:25 pm

When the teachers got a raise, administrators got a "me too" raise. That's what the article was mentioning. Also, when the teachers got a raise, his wife got a raise. That's two conflicts of interest.

I am not aware of Bowers publicly eschewing these raises and windfalls for himself, before negotiating on behalf of the district with the teachers union. I am not aware of his working to eliminate the "me too" raises, or even to reject his own because his compensation package was good enough.

For the record, I thought Bowers mostly did a decent job hiring talented teachers. But the conflicts in regard to pay unfortunately marred things.

Do you have other information?

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