District, teachers union reach tentative agreement on 2% raise | News | Palo Alto Online |


District, teachers union reach tentative agreement on 2% raise

District also proposes revised agreement with senior managers

The Palo Alto Unified School District and its teachers union have reached a tentative three-year labor agreement that would provide an ongoing 2% raise and 2% one-time bonus this year.

In a statement, Superintendent Don Austin called the tentative agreement, which has not yet been ratified by the Palo Alto Educators Association, a "positive outcome resulting from professional interest-based bargaining.

"On behalf of our Board of Education, I would like to thank the PAEA leadership for their willingness to embrace the process and advocate on behalf of our certificated employees and students," he said.

The current collective bargaining agreement, thought to be the district's first-ever multiyear union contract, was negotiated by former superintendent Max McGee and heralded at the time as a successful change for Palo Alto Unified and its bargaining units. Then, in 2017, in the midst of a budget shortfall, the district discovered that no one had formally notified the teachers and employee unions that the district planned to exercise its option to reopen negotiations, as required by the contracts, with the intent of canceling a 3% raise. The error cost the district $4.4 million in unbudgeted raises. The contracts also provided for a 1% off-schedule bonus that would double if actual property tax revenue received is greater than the amount used in the board-adopted budget by 1.5% or more, which it was.

The teachers union ultimately agreed to return the 2% bonus, which was reallocated to schools' per-pupil funding.

Under the new three-year contract, raises would be negotiated each year, unlike the now-expired contract, which contained three year's worth of salary increases and bonuses.

This year's raise, effective retroactive to Jan. 7, 2019, would cost the district $1.2 million and $2.4 million in each of the following years. The off-schedule 2% bonus is based on employees' salaries after the raise is applied and would cost the district $2.4 million.

Chief Business Officer Jim Novak, who given budget restraints recommended in March that the board take a "judicious" approach to spending, said that higher-than-projected property tax revenues have boosted the district budget to help pay for the raises. Property tax revenue is currently estimated at 7.4%, up from 2.8% in this year's adopted budget, he said.

There was little discussion of the contract at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting; the board members were limited in what they could say given the union has not yet ratified the tentative agreement, Vice President Todd Collins said.

"I'm really appreciative of the interest-based approach and it's allowed us to really come together around what we both view as important," said board member Shounak Dharap.

"Even though it's not the norm" to bring a union contract to the board without ratification, Dharap said, it brought transparency to the process.

A contested provision added to the previous union contract, which requires secondary school teachers to use online school management system Schoology, was not renegotiated this year but will remain in the new agreement, said Palo Alto Educators Association President Teri Baldwin. The Schoology requirement was formally added to the contract after the airing of a grievance the teachers union filed against former Gunn High School Principal Denise Herrmann, accusing her of violating the union contract by asking all teachers to use the online tool to post homework.

However, a pilot of end-of-year course surveys for high schoolers to give targeted input on specific teachers and classes will not continue in the tentative agreement. The student surveys were approved as part of a separate two-year memorandum of understanding and extended for one additional year, then expired and were not discussed during negotiations this year, Baldwin said.

Chris Kolar, the district's director of Research, Assessment and Evaluation, told the school board at a January retreat that feedback about this new survey itself was generally positive.

Baldwin, however, wrote in an email Tuesday that "teachers expressed that they didn't receive the course-specific and instructional feedback they had in the past when creating their own surveys. ... The teachers wanted more direct feedback, not the general feedback that came from the pilot survey."

An existing section in the contract on student input, which requires teachers to collect feedback before the end of the first semester and again prior to the end of the school year, still applies, Baldwin said.

Deputy Superintendent Karen Hendricks said that neither the district or the teachers union brought the survey memorandum of understanding forward to negotiate in the new contract. She declined to state why, citing the confidentiality of interest-based bargaining.

"Both parties sunshine articles and brought forward articles and topics that were pertinent and those were addressed at the table," Hendricks said.

The district and teachers union already settled medical, dental and vision insurance benefits in October because they run through the calendar rather than the fiscal year, according to the district. The benefits represent a budget increase of $440,000 for the district. The total annual cost for employee insurance benefits is approximately $20.6 million, according to Novak.

If adopted, the contract would last through June 30, 2021. It also includes a memorandum of understanding to reopen four provisions on compensation and benefits; hours, leave positions; and working conditions during the next school year's negotiations.

The PAEA contract will come back to the school board for discussion and action at a later date.

Negotiations are still ongoing for a new contract with the Classified School Employees Association, Hendricks said.

The school board also briefly discussed on Tuesday a new memorandum of understanding with the district's management association, which represents certificated and classified managers and school psychologists. The proposed five-year agreement would tie managers' salary increases to those negotiated with the teachers union. The agreement does not apply to members of the executive cabinet: the superintendent, assistant superintendent, deputy superintendent and chief business officer.

Under the proposed memorandum of understanding, members of the Palo Alto Management Association would also receive a $1,000 annual professional development allocation, which can also be used to reimburse staff for the cost of a master's or doctoral program, credential programs or Association of California School Administrators membership dues.

Austin told the board that there are provisions in the existing memorandum that are "not standard in other districts" and created a "barrier to some degree with us having a partnership relationship."

"On the back end they (the PAMA leadership) talked to me about compensation and how some changes over time had been a barrier over time for them feeling like partners," he said.

Trustees largely commended the effort to reduce the scope of the memorandum of understanding and did not comment on the proposed five years of umbrella compensation.

"I think this is really a step forward and I hope that we can continue (to) work with our wonderful administrative and leadership employees to work together as a team to accomplish great things for students," Collins said.

The board will vote on the proposed memorandum of understanding at its next meeting on May 14.


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


5 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 23, 2019 at 11:48 am

I hope they add later school start times to the negotiation.

3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 23, 2019 at 12:36 pm

I don't think start times are in the contract. Beside the high schools start at 8:30 as it is - how much later should they be?

9 people like this
Posted by School Daze
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 23, 2019 at 12:49 pm

> - how much later should they be?

between 9-10 AM & ending around 1-2 PM with 1 hour off for lunch.

that allows for 4 classes.

2% is kind of chintzy although most teachers don't work that hard & get a number of holidays + summers off.

41 people like this
Posted by District Teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2019 at 4:24 pm

I am very lucky and fortunate to work in Palo Alto and love what I do every day. I am also a Palo Alto taxpayer (because I am lucky and fortunate enough to have a spouse with an income that allowed us to buy a small 1,000 sf ft home almost 20 years ago...) That being said, please understand that I am not complaining about my work conditions.

So, before teacher bashing starts, I suggest reading this article, if only the email the teacher wrote to the author of the article after the author read her resignation letter. I understand fully that PAUSD is far from South Carolina, but she captures so well what it is like to be a teacher. Peace.

Web Link

23 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 23, 2019 at 5:06 pm

Sure. After stealing $4 million last year the teacher's union gets a raise.

41 people like this
Posted by Meanwhile
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2019 at 6:17 pm

Congratulations to the district and the teachers...given how acrimonious teacher contract negotiations are across the country right now, grateful to have this!

29 people like this
Posted by thank you teachers
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 23, 2019 at 7:33 pm

"stealing"?! You mean *accepting* the money that was *negotiated* in a *binding contract* and that the district was *legally required to pay*? If they switched positions, you strike me as someone who'd tell the teachers "too bad - you wanted to renegotiate but your didn't file your request in time. That's on you." Well, there you go.

Why not just come out and say what you mean? "Teachers are lazy overpaid union hacks!" – right? While P.A. Online attracts more than its share of cranks, thankfully, the majority of Palo Alto understands that you can't pretend to respect education and schools without respecting the people who do the work. Are they all wonderful? No. Is there any walk of life, any profession where they're all wonderful?

30 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 23, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Jim H is a registered user.

@thank you teachers - You point out a huge issue that causes much of the animosity towards teacher compensation and raises. Some teachers are great,some are good and some are bad. Yet they all get the same pay and even the same bonus.
Great teachers mist get frustrated when poor teachers get equal compensation. I'm sure many end up quitting. If you want to retain teachers and be able to pay them so they don't have to drive an hour each way, then reward the best teachers.
Teacher's union will never agree.to that because there are too many teachers happy with doing the minimum and getting their step increases and small raises. Excellent benefits and Summers off, can't blame them, but how many professions would you trust and respect with a similar system? Would you go have much faith in your doctor under the same system? Where's the motivation to outperform?

2 people like this
Posted by thank you teachers
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 23, 2019 at 9:54 pm

Jim raised good questions. As someone who has worked in teaching and non-teaching jobs, the main thing that frustrated me in any position was unfairness. Yeah, sometimes in any job you think you deserve more than the person working in the next cubicle, classroom, or cash register, but that's the least of the problems in education. It sounds like you want to shake it up with less stability and more performance pay and redistribute the money to the best instead of the oldest. But teaching doesn't attract competitive people in the first place and you won't retain them if it's always about being better than others. Or if you fund higher salaries for all and let younger teachers move up faster it'll be costly. Performance pay has been tried in education many times, it never sticks because that's not how schools and teachers operate. maybe we could raise expectations so high that no one can ever coast or underperform, and also give schools more resources to support every teacher. No one wants to do a bad job so if that's what's happening we should look at why. And don't expect perfection. If you've worked in a medium/big private sector co. you know there's always inefficiency and always some people past their prime but for whatever reason they're still there.

22 people like this
Posted by Cover up culture
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 23, 2019 at 11:18 pm

Defending the union rhetoric...

Sure...the calculus teacher should make the same as the PE teacher. Oh sure.

36 people like this
Posted by Former HR pro
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2019 at 11:23 pm

Former HR pro is a registered user.

Not to knock good teachers, but regardless of the range. Salaries are a school district’s largest expense, yet there is tenure and no performance evaluation system. Does anyone else see a problem here?

40 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2019 at 7:17 am

Huge problem. No accountability. But pay, pay, pay. And no real way to remove anyone, regardless of poor performance. The teacher's union resists any members removal, even due to lawlessness.

And the teacher's union controls the whole political apparatus that awards it salary increases, it elects the school board and other elected officials throughout the whole state. It has completely co opted the PTA, and peer pressures parents through fear of retaliation. The CTA is the largest political donor in the state. The only way for administrators or elected officials to succeed is to kiss the teacher's unions ring.

26 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2019 at 9:34 am

@Citizen, while I agree (broadly) about the CTA's influence at the state level, at the local level, they have much less impact. Only one of five PAUSD board members (Dharap) were endorsed by the local teachers union, and their only support was about $1K. I don't think the union has much influence on the board. As for the PTA, I don't think there's any relationships between them and the union.

Teachers can be disciplined and removed, though it takes time, trouble, and sometimes money.

84 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2019 at 6:16 pm

PAUSD teachers make...easily...more than the average Silicon Valley tech worker.


PAUSD teachers:
* Average PAUSD income: $109,894 (source: Web Link)
* PAUSD teacher service days: 187 (source: Web Link)

* Income per work-day: $109,894/187= $587.67

Tech workers:
* Average tech income: $122,242 (source: Web Link)

(note: that was the HIGHEST average income for tech workers in the area. All other areas of the bay area are LOWER).

* Tech worker work days. Eliminate these days to make a comparable comparison with teacher 'service days':
- Saturdays: 52
- Sundays: 52
- Holidays: 10
- vacation: 10

* Income per work-day: $122,242/(365-52-52-10-10) = $507.23

So the average PAUSD school teacher makes over $80/day more per-workday than the average tech worker (using the highest average for a tech worker in the bay area, no less!!!)

To put that $80/day difference in perspective, if a PAUSD teacher had to work as many days as a tech worker, the average PAUSD teacher would make (587.67*241)...drum roll please...

$141628.47/year for PAUSD teachers

Just to be clear, I'm happy that PAUSD teachers make more than the average tech worker. But please spare us the "poor, underappreciated teachers" pity party. They are very, very well paid, and that doesn't even count some of their other perks (retirement pension, for example).

8 people like this
Posted by Cover up culture
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 24, 2019 at 7:39 pm

@Resident - sorry, but all of the school board members are in the pocket of the teachers union. They were incredibly obsequious to the teachers union when the union deigned to return the 2% bonus of the unmerited raise they had snookered the district out of last year. All of them were groveling and "kissing the ring" as @Citizen said, to the real power center.

12 people like this
Posted by Meanwhile
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2019 at 10:02 pm

Disclaimer: Pleased with this cost of living increase for teachers! Will not complain that PAUSD teachers are in the top 5 (not the best/not the worst) Bay Area pay rates for teachers, including benefits.

And...don't forget to read in the calculation of teacher vs. tech the disclaimer at the end of the post of the link posted:

"• The median pay figure for each company does not necessarily reflect that of an employee who is in the Bay Area.Some companies, notably chipmakers like Intel and Cypress Semiconductor, have large manufacturing workforces outside the region.

• In calculating median pay, the companies notably don’t account for the lavish workplace perks that many Bay Area tech employers are known for, including free daily catered meals, generous paid vacation time, and on-campus gyms and laundry facilities."

Or has the IRS's actually started to tax those perks?

"To put this in real numbers, the Wall Street Journal External link estimates that a Googler eating two meals per day in the company cafeteria would owe an extra $4,000 to $5,000 per year in taxes (assuming a fair-market value between $8 and $10 on each meal)."--Web Link

6 people like this
Posted by Meanwhile
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2019 at 10:20 pm

Oops--forgot a disclaimer: Definitely don't begrudge techies their compensation and perks!

20 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 25, 2019 at 3:59 am

^ @Meanwhile -- something apparently was lost in Wall Street Journal translation.
500 meals per year at $8 to $10 each would total $4000-$5000 gross income.
Implies that Googlers are in the 100% tax bracket. (Politicians can dream.)

17 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2019 at 10:01 am

'Meanwhile', a resident of Palo Alto High School, wrote:
"median pay figure for each company"

While the article does mention per-company pay, it's clear from the article that the $122k for tech workers is based on *silicon valley* pay, not global as you imply.

That said, it's pretty clear from your response that you're not actually disputing that the average PAUSD teacher make more than the average tech worker...which is smart of you because the math and data make that clear.

Moving on, I got a kick out of reading this:

"[tech worker incomes] don’t account for the lavish workplace perks...[tech workers] would owe an extra $4,000 to $5,000 per year in taxes [for cafeteria food"

1: As 'musical' points out, you're asserting a 100% tax rate on meals, which is obviously wrong.

2: You imply that most tech workers get free meals multiple times daily. Do you care to back up that up? From my experience, most tech companies do NOT offer regularly-scheduled free meals to employees; Google and Facebook are the exceptions, not the rule.

3: Just for the sake of argument, let's add $5,000 to the income of an average tech worker:

* PAUSD teacher income per work-day: $109,894/187= $587.67
* Tech worker income per work-day, plus alleged 'meals': ($122,242+5000)/(365-52-52-10-10)= 527.98

PAUSD teachers STILL make more than tech workers.

"lavish workplace perks"

Really...you want to argue perks between tech workers and PAUSD teachers???? Wow, OK, let's do that. We'll put aside the income and look at perks.

PAUSD teachers have perks that no tech worker comes close to matching. A few examples:

* Pensions:
- tech workers: 401k + Social Security. Funded by workers, taxpayers (and in some cases, employers offering some matching).

- PAUSD teachers: CALSTRS, with a government-backed guaranteed rate of return (regardless how the fund performs). Funded by taxpayers and teachers.

WINNER: teachers, by a landslide.

* Job protection:
- tech workers: at-will employment (for employees; not even that for contractors).
- teachers: union-protected, and for those with tenure, even more protection.

WINNER: teachers, by a landslide.

* Work|life:
- tech workers: periodically oncall nights and/or weekends (people expect websites to work on the weekends, tech workers make that possible).
- teachers: no weekend or nighttime oncall (how often does a teacher get paged at 3am because little Jimmy didn't do his homework? Answer: never).

And the above doesn't even include the 13+ weeks/year of downtime teachers get (which I factored in as part of those income comparisons earlier, so I won't factor it in here).

2 people like this
Posted by thank you teachers
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 26, 2019 at 12:04 am

saying that a local union for any district has so much power is kind of a joke. Anyone who works in PAUSD or knows anyone working in this distric can confirm that. They represent their members fine but they don't pull the strings. And as for the comparisons about work, here's a good article with some helpful data about not only the hours teachers actually work but also how in the US it's much more than most countries and they don't get enough planning time(set aside the pay numbers because we're in a very different situation, but the data on hours is useful) Web Link

7 people like this
Posted by Coverup Culture
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 26, 2019 at 7:51 am

"The school board also briefly discussed on Tuesday a new memorandum of understanding with the district's management association, which represents certificated and classified managers and school psychologists. The proposed five-year agreement would tie managers' salary increases to those negotiated with the teachers union. The agreement does not apply to members of the executive cabinet: the superintendent, assistant superintendent, deputy superintendent and chief business officer."

Doesn't this just place managers, (principals?) administrators, now in the position of being cheerleaders for the teachers union getting raises? I thought they were supposed to be managing the teachers, and overseeing budgets, hiring and so forth, the things that managers do.

Doesn't this just create a conflict of interest, co opting them as big cheerleaders for teachers union raises? Is that an appropriate role for this group?

Like this comment
Posted by Ben
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 30, 2019 at 11:14 am

I’m in CSEA a Plumber here at PAUSD with a question about the $$ raise. Are classified employed also to receive this raise? Understandably we are in negotiations, but for the previous 19 years “Me Too” was implemented, meaning we also received the equal percentage of raise. If not why not? Sorry 2 questions. Thank you.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Los Altos's State of Mind opening NYC-inspired pizza shop in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 16 comments | 7,896 views

Flying: How much is enough? It's personal.
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 2,571 views

Wait, wait – we’re working on it
By Diana Diamond | 18 comments | 2,139 views

My Pet Peeves
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 7 comments | 1,666 views

Goodbye toy stores
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 905 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

Contest Details