The school board will vote Tuesday on a 16% raise for Palo Alto Adult School teachers who, despite the fact that they are formally represented by the teachers union, have not historically received the same negotiated salary increases.
Adult School staff, who are all part-time employees, have gone without a raise since 2016, when they received a 9% increase. This is partially due to confusion over how their salary increases should be handled, a murky process that Adult School Principal Dave Hoshiwara ran into this year.
Hoshiwara's understanding from his predecessors was that Adult School staff were not represented by the Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA) and it was up to principals to push for salary increases, he said in an interview. He approached Chief Business Officer Jim Novak to discuss a raise, which prompted a closer reading of the teachers' union contract. Novak clarified that the Adult School teachers are in fact included in the contract and informed Hoshiwara that any pay increase had to be formally negotiated.
Kara Rosenberg, who was the school's principal from 2000 to 2014, said her understanding was that only parts of the teachers' union contract applied to her staff. She would request raises equivalent to those negotiated by the union through human resources, which were then approved by the school board. Katya Villalobos, who led the Adult School from 2014 to 2016, said she went through one negotiation cycle and met with former chief business officer Cathy Mak and former assistant superintendent for human resources Scott Bowers to bargain. Her understanding was that the Adult School teachers were not represented by the union.
Teri Baldwin, president of the Palo Alto Educators Association, said the union found out only this year that it represented the Adult School teachers.
"We had been told in the past that the article in the contract was just as a place holder, but that they were not part of PAEA," she said.
The union formed a separate negotiations team and formally bargained with the district on compensation for next year. They agreed on a 16% increase for hourly rates — an ongoing cost of about $147,700 — and a 5% off-schedule bonus this year for certificated employees, a cost of about $38,500. If approved, their rates would go up from $39 to $46 per hour.
"It might sound like a lot but 16% of not very much is still not very much," teacher Eve Sutton told the board last week.
The board approved in May a 2% raise and 2% one-time bonus for teachers, which will cost the district $3.6 million this year.
Adult School staff teach about six to 12 hours per week, according to Hoshiwara. The school is part of the district but operates separately, with its own budget, including state funding and student fees for courses. The school offers a wide variety of classes, from arts, writing and English as a second language to cooking and parenting.
Hoshiwara said he and staff are happy with the negotiated increase for next year but he's still unsure how their raises should be handled in the future. (Baldwin said, however, that the union will negotiate them separately each year going forward.)
"It wasn't a smooth process," Hoshiwara said. "I don't really know how it will go in the future but I would hope it would go a little smoother with less unknowns."
The board heard a brief presentation on the Adult School compensation last week and is set to approve it this Tuesday evening.
In other business Tuesday, which is the last board meeting of this school year, trustees will take action on the districtwide "PAUSD Promise" plan, a cell tower resolution and a 2% bonus and contract extension for Superintendent Don Austin. They will also discuss restructuring the Title IX office, including reducing the Title IX coordinator position from full to part time — a change that is "not reflective of a decreased need for attention to leadership and supervision related to compliance of Title IX and civil rights, but rather a building of internal, sustainable capacity for managing these critical responsibilities," a staff report states.
The district's 2019-20 budget is on the board's consent calendar, where items are approved routinely without discussion.
The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave. View the agenda here.