News

'Historic' timing: School district reaches tentative agreements on raises months earlier than usual

Negotiations typically last through the spring

The Palo Alto school district has reached tentative agreements on raises for its teachers and classified employee unions, far earlier in the year than has historically happened in the city.

Under the tentative agreements, teachers and classified staff would receive a 1% retroactive salary increase for this year, a one-time 1.5% bonus and contingency language that provides for additional ongoing raises if the district's final annual property tax revenues exceed current growth projections of 5.93%. The district has also tentatively agreed to contribute slightly more to health care benefits for full-time employees, from $13,570 to $14,099 per year.

The district and its unions are typically negotiating compensation and benefits through the spring. Teri Baldwin, president of the Palo Alto Educators Association, said that in the decade she's been involved in negotiations, this is the earliest they've ever come to an agreement (except when there were no raises).

"Settling at this point in the year adds some predictability for the district administration and employees, and provides the negotiations teams with good momentum as we continue working on other contract articles," she said.

Meb Steiner, president of the local California School Employees Association (CSEA) chapter, echoed her sentiment and said she is "very happy that we reached a tentative agreement."

Superintendent Don Austin called the timing of the agreements "historic."

"The shift in negotiations timing puts PAUSD on a more traditional schedule, allowing for substantive contract language discussions to occur throughout the remainder of the year void of distractions," he said. "The Board of Education was able to determine parameters for negotiations that maintained space for future initiatives supporting students, while also delivering certainty for employees around health and welfare benefits and compensation."

The district also "has no exposure in the agreement resembling a previous misstep a couple years ago," Austin said, referring to the district's failure in 2017 to formally notify the unions that the district planned to exercise an option to reopen negotiations, with the intent of canceling raises after a misestimate in property taxes.

This year the district also publicly released proposals and counterproposals throughout the bargaining process — possibly for the first time. An Oct. 4 update posted on the district website shows the district and teachers union went back and forth on the property tax growth contingency language. The district initially offered an additional 1% raise if the actual property tax rates exceed its projections; the union countered with a 1.5% raise. The teachers union also asked for at one point a 2% raise for this year.

Last year, teachers and senior managers received a 2% pay bump and 2% one-time bonus.

The tentative agreements will be brought to the school board on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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Comments

21 people like this
Posted by Local parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 21, 2019 at 11:03 am

Hmmm. Where do the custodians, substitute teachers, aides, front office secretaries, and others responsible for making our schools run fit in all of this? I would prefer to see them get raises before the top administrators, who are already paid so exorbitantly without any accountability to performance.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2019 at 11:17 am

To Local Parent,

"Where do the custodians, substitute teachers, aides, front office secretaries, and others responsible for making our schools run fit in all of this?"

These positions are under the Classified School Employees Association (CSEA).


41 people like this
Posted by Cover up culture
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 21, 2019 at 11:28 am

@Local parent - No one has any accountability for performance at the school district --- not teachers, not the highly paid administrators, not the captured school board, and not the janitors, etc. either. Recently reported poor academic performance for the socio economically disadvantaged? No problem. Overrepresentation (dumping?) of minorities in special ed --- being cited by the state for the second time in 8 years for it? No problem. Poor academic performance and a-g graduation rate of disabled children? No problem. Holding children back in math to prevent having to shuffle teachers? NP. Not reporting bullying or sexual harassment/assault of children - breaking the law not once, but many times (see OCR resolution agreements). No problem. Blowing $6 million on an administrative error? NP. Miscalculating property taxes and under budgeting by $5 million? NP. Shortchanging our students on state mandated instructional minutes, not once, but multiple times? NP. Refusing to answer questions from the public? NP. 2nd highest per pupil/year spending in the state of California, unfunded pension liabilities of $252 million, but hey, let's give them all more $$$!!! Right??? And let's make sure to throw some more $$ millions their way for teacher housing --- regardless of $252 million in unfunded pension liabilities.....


30 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 21, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Cover up culture has it right. The Board should be discussing our many failures and deficiencies, not paying more for the team that is giving us debacle after debacle.

Let's pay folks who are ready and willing to do what our students need, yes. For the time being, this means only folks willing to OPPOSE the status quo at PAUSD.


14 people like this
Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 21, 2019 at 12:13 pm

And what about substitute teachers? PAUSD is the lowest paying district in this region at $165. Per day with no benefits at all. There are Sub shortages every day. At every site it is common practice to piece together sub jobs to cover absent teachers leaving subs with no breaks. This is a problem. More substitutes would take jobs in PAUSD if the pay was competitive with other districts. Mountain View/Los Altos $185 per day, Ravenswood $200 per day. Shame on PAUSD


16 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 21, 2019 at 9:09 pm

Why are school board raises TIED IN with raises with teaching staff? The board gets to determine teachers get raises, ALONG WITH THEIR OWN SALARY? Talk about conflict of interest.

Why is PAUSD giving out "one time raises" every year? The teaching staff is already on a pay scale grid that sees their salaries go up every year. Why is their contract being renegotiated EVERY SINGLE YEAR WITH pay increases.

Why are senior managers getting a 2% bump last year and now another raise?

The poor performance of the students - should be tied in with salary increases.

The tremendous conflict of interest going on with who decides who gets raises... there is absolutely no accountability in the finances here. While Palo Alto schools are in poor conditions (compared to local surrounding boards such as Los Altos or Mountain View)... Palo Alto has all sorts of structurally declining buildings.

The lack of proper hiring of teaching staff... where AP computer science teachers can't code JAVA
The lack of 2nd language instructions for children in our schools when other school boards (including public schools) offer a 2nd language as part of the curriculum starting grade 1. In PAUSD one has to get into a lottery school for Spanish or Mandarin (or teach them privately on one's dime).
The lack of proper computer programming instruction at the elementary level.

PAUSD is falling behind.. but we keep bumping up the salary of these incompetent teachers, the administration, the senior managers and the salaries of the BOARD members. They all parasitize on the finances of PAUSD... fattening and lining their own wallets while our children get worsening education.

Then we do "oh we must fix our middle school math" while we talk about the achievement gap that the BOARD hasn't been able to fix in the past 12 years (as per CURRENT STANDING BOARD MEMBER). Perhaps it's time to change the board members!!

It's all crock - the screening tool used in the middle schools in grade 6 failed to screen out the gifted kids who are extremely talented at math. It just screened for the kids who KNOW THE MATERIALS already by rote and moved them onto grade 7 math. Meanwhile the talented and gifted kids who thrive on higher academic and deeper math knowledge.. were left to just do rote math at grade 6 level..... repeating everything till they died of boredom.

All smoke and mirrors. What is going on is smoke and mirrors. MAYBE the superintendant should look at the screening criteria Greene is giving the grade 6 kids and wonder what exactly they are screening for?

Why is it Fletcher allows any middle school child wanting to sit on the secondary screening test to sit in on it.. but Greene students must prequalify and ONLY BE INVITED to sit in on the secondary screening test?

WHAT IS WITH THE VARIABLE criteria? IT's all smoke and mirrors and just slight of the hand movement while they all line their pockets.


4 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 21, 2019 at 10:08 pm

Web Link

If someone can find 2018 or 2019 salaries for the Palo Alto Unified group of folks that would be appreciated

Don't really think these folks have earned the 6 figure salaries. This is from 2017.
Three years from these wages, it's now even higher.

It would be nice to see all these salaries, including the board members, the senior managers, the district superintendents and all published. They are public servants giving themselves all raises.


7 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 21, 2019 at 10:29 pm

I suggest we radically cut the board salaries of the PAUSD board members. Lets see how many of these long term career board members would retire or move onto other jobs. There are many school public boards out there, with public school board trustees who have an annual salary in the 10, 000 dollar range. Maybe even 20-30,000 dollar range. There are years they voted to give themselves a salary freeze for several years.

THAT is true desire to serve and serve for the purpose of a greater purpose. When enrollment and achievement scores go up, perhaps the board members salaries can also go up. THAT would give true motivation to improve the curriculum, the hiring process, the firing process and improve the overall quality of student achievement.

How many board members are sitting pretty on the board while they send their children to private schools outside of PAUSD? How many would be the first one to give up their seat the moment this becomes a purely volunteer position with just a stipend of $10-20k per year?

While we ask parents to pay for this, and pay for that.. donate here and donate there... it's an endless stream of donations and payments, while board members sit there and give themselves pay raises as they claim they are giving teachers higher salaries (because they have tied their pay increase to the the same pay structure and contract as the teachers).

Where is the accountability?


9 people like this
Posted by Another Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 22, 2019 at 12:33 am

@Palo Alto Resident - just to clarify, Palo Alto school board members get a stipend of like $400 per month for the months they meet in, so like $4000 a year? And I'm pretty sure some of them don't even take that. It's not a job - it's an elected volunteer position.

As Emily Litella would say: "Never mind!" Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 22, 2019 at 7:05 am

@cover up culture - don't forget about the $2 million the district spent in legal expenses due to its own lawbreaking.


16 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 22, 2019 at 8:23 am

A lot of outrage over a 1% raise and some seriously misinformed blog posters.


10 people like this
Posted by Don't do anything extra
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 22, 2019 at 4:40 pm

@paly parent - It's not just a 1% raise. You missed the one time bonus, and you missed the linkage to property taxes, which would trigger additional more compensation. You also gloss over PAUSDs deficient record and lack of accountability. Seems like you're misinformed.


12 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 22, 2019 at 5:25 pm

@Paly Parent -- Yes, that comment your refer to was (is) way off target thinking the Board is paid, approving their own raises. That would be a next level scandal indeed, even for this district.

But this news still does amount to thousands of more dollars for senior administrators whose performance is, let's be kind and say, lacking. And they are already paid very handsomely. One might even say exorbitantly, when pensions are factored in. I am not sure how our teacher salaries compare to neighboring districts, so I won't comment on that front.

We could fund a lot of intervention programs for kids in need with this money going to a failing admin team. Instead, we are giving the same broken system more with no incentives for anything other than keeping the union happy.


10 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 22, 2019 at 5:37 pm

Honest question. How exactly does the parcel tax fit with that revenue target? That information really matters to voters, many of whom have had it up to here with this district no matter what their "pet interest" might be.

If the parcel tax is funding teacher housing and raises for the status quo, no way. We are smart enough to figure out if we are told that it is dedicated to "instruction" but funds are just shifted behind the scenes.

Anyone willing to share (Weekly!?) those facts would be greatly appreciated.


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