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Teachers get 4 percent raise in tentative pact

Original post made on Oct 31, 2013

Palo Alto teachers this year will get a 4 percent raise along with a onetime bonus of 2 percent under a tentative collective-bargaining agreement between the Palo Alto Unified School District and the Palo Alto Educators Association.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 10:59 PM

Comments (33)

Posted by You scratch my back
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2013 at 6:35 am

And this is why there has been no criticism by teachers of Kevin Skelly, Charles Young, the board, and their series of blunders and mistakes. This is why you didn't see the union president Teri Baldwin complain at a board meeting about the high cost of gasoline like she did over a year ago. The principals will also get this raise. Everybody wins.

You think I'm donating to PIE in November? PAUSD has money to burn. The next parcel tax vote will not reach a two-thirds majority. There is plenty of money to burn through for bonuses, to hide incompetence, to make lawsuits go away. Nothing about this is about kids.

Posted by didn't take long
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 31, 2013 at 7:28 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Duvy dad
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 31, 2013 at 7:52 am

@DTL, I am not too happy about the contrast I'm seeing between the competence of managers in the district and their pay. Skelly in particular does not seem worth a $300k salary. Burying federal investigations from the school board, subjecting taxpayers to unnecessary liability, etc. Is this really the best we can do for the money? But maybe you know something I don't.

Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 31, 2013 at 9:49 am

I don't give to PIE these days. Instead, I spend thousands on the language tutoring for my high school student since certain foreign language teachers who are about to get a raise, have retired on the job a long time ago. Teaching, homework correcting, providing timely feedback, keeping up with the grades, etc. simply interferes with their long distance commute and after school pursuits. A great majority of the teachers in this district are very dedicated to their students and are amazing educators who are in this profession to make a difference for the future generation, they deserve to be valued and well compensated. Unfortunately, we also have teachers who show up at school but forget to teach, unfortunately, they too will be granted a raise. I am still a Democrat, tilting towards the liberal side and use to be a union supporter, but not any longer. Raises should be merit based, not simply a percentage across the board.

Posted by It's the Board
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2013 at 10:23 am

Don't blame Skelly so much. He's just maximizing his gain under the system.
It's our beloved PAUSD Board that sets the ground rules that allows this crap to go on. They're spineless. Vote them out.

Posted by Robert Burnes
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 31, 2013 at 11:19 am

I was a 30 year employee in PAUSD, as a Teacher and Principal, and can only say I am reading comments that, almost verbatim, were voiced,and printed decades ago. It seems to be same old, same old. The more "things" change the more they stay the same. It's been said,"If you live in Palo Alto you have an ATTITUDE" In my tenure I found the positive attitude was far more pervasive than the negative. Trust and support of PAUSD is essential if students are to be given adequate opportunity to grow.

Posted by Eva
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 31, 2013 at 11:22 am

Love our teachers and happy to see they are being paid like the professionals they are.

Posted by Thanks
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 31, 2013 at 12:47 pm

"It's our beloved PAUSD Board that sets the ground rules that allows this crap to go on. They're spineless. Vote them out."

Last time I checked, you can only vote people in. And since in the last two elections overall there has only been one more candidate than available seats, there isn't much choice. And who can blame folks for not running? A near full-time job with no compensation, and the thanks you receive are comments like the above.

Thank you to the Board, staff, and teachers for your outstanding work and dedication to our students. It is much appreciated.

Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 31, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Yet I worked about 30 years and received less than $2k a month. Who says teachers are poorly paid when they receive 90% of their salary after 30 years and 100% or more after 35 years. I went to class at night while they can go during the summer.

Posted by Long time resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm

The teachers at my children's schools are amazing. They are professionals and care about our children. We expect them to deal with all the social issues as well as teach to all the students and differentiate for all their differences and needs. We don't pay them nearly enough when they can just bounce over to Facebook or Google and get 2-3 times the salary and massages! The education of our children is the most important thing for our futures.

Posted by Longer time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2013 at 5:35 pm

If teachers could make two to three times at Facebook or Google, they would. There is no basis in any reality for such a statement. So many teachers deserve this raise, so many principals deserve this raise, but there are a few at each school that absolutely do not and they are usually known to both parents and staff. Known to readers of this publication are concrete examples of failure by teachers and administrators. Do they deserve a raise. This district apparently has a lot of money. How can PIE ask for more money?

Posted by Teach
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2013 at 7:39 pm

@Green Gables: I don't believe teachers get that much in retirement. I also don't believe many of them put in 30 or 35 years. Many teachers leave the field before they've put in five years, often because of poor administrators and lack of proper mentoring and support.

Posted by Tech Family
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 31, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Long Term Resident,

Your statement is so naive! My husband works for one of the companies you mentioned and let me tell you it is very, VERY difficult to get hired at either Google or FB! The majority of staff who get jobs at those companies have at least a Masters in computer science or engineering and most have PhDs. My husband works late into the night, many nights, travels frequently and has never had time to get a massage! Many teachers are hardworking too, but the majority do not have graduate degrees in either CS or engineering and therefore would have a hard time getting hired at those companies. That's not to say that they shouldn't apply to work as those companies if they wanted. A few might be able to get hired for various types of positions, but to say that the majority of teachers could easily waltz into Google or FB and get hired on the spot is ridiculous! My husband has numerous friends and colleagues who are all very highly qualified technically, put in time in Silicon Valley high tech companies, have graduate degrees in engineering/CS, and they were not even able even get hired by either of those companies.

Teaching is a totally different field and you have to love it and have a gift for it to do it. And if you are good at it you definitely deserve a raise and high salary in my opinion.

Posted by You scratch my back
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Are we giving raises to teachers who need mentoring and support?

Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 31, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Dear Tech Family,

"It is very, VERY difficult to get hired at Facebook or Google?" What???

Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 31, 2013 at 11:16 pm

I don't begrudge hard working dedicated PAUSD teachers (which a great majority), who themselves worked hard to attain their high levels of education, to earn a good income and retire with dignity.

There are always a few lazy bad apples who abuse their tenure and union protection.

I have many concrete example that I will withhold for now since my children are still attending PAUSD schools.

Some of the district teachers should be fired rather than given a raise for a job NOT well done.

Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 31, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Teachers deserve every penny of their salaries--especially in Palo Alto. My mother was a teacher in another California city for many years and earned less than half of the beginning salaries stated in the article. She worked so hard on school nights, and on weekends. She cared deeply for her students. I'm sure there are the odd few who are not as dedicated, but the majority are profoundly committed to their profession, and I salute them.

Posted by Jordan Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 1, 2013 at 7:43 am

I agree with "Thanks".

Democracy isn't just about grousing from the sidelines. The Board puts in crazy long hours trying to navigate the hyper-litigious waters of Palo Alto taxpayers.

Take a look at how well they kept things in balance during the recent recession: while many of us in the private sector were getting laid off or seeing our overzealous investments go sour, and while other school districts across the State were reducing program offerings and consolidating schools, what did we see in PAUSD?
Budget control.
Conservative planning.
No school closures, no layoffs, very few program cuts.
Teachers were denied raises while being assigned more job expectations (how many of you are loving schoology and infinite campus as much as we do? don't assume that kind of granularity comes easy.) (And you oughta see all the special ed paperwork they now have to fill out for my daughter.)

Cheers to the Board for stepping up for a thankless job.

We will be donating to PiE. And we will continue volunteering at school events. And we stay actively involved with this community and its top-ranked school district. Why has our house doubled in value since we bought it? Ask any realtor. It's the schools.

Finally, three cheers to the majority of hardworking teachers in the District. Wish we could pay you more, but we hope the love of working with our kids is also part of the compensation.

Posted by You scratch my back
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2013 at 8:25 am

We're Number One! We're Number One! We're Number One!

Posted by another satisfied customer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 1, 2013 at 11:24 am

@You scratch my back,
At last you understand. Thank you for finally supporting the board, the district, our teachers, schools and kids.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Only in public-employee circles can "90% of your salary after 30 years" seem like a constitutional entitlement. The rest of us work 45 years (all year round) and then get Social Security. Which, last I checked, is often less than 90% of most peoples' salary.

Oh and by the way, that 90%-after-30-years comes from CalSTRS, whose current unfunded pension liability is $166 Billion, and grows $17 million per DAY. That's the "official" estimate. Don't ask what the unofficial ones are.

Oh and also by the way, they don't have to pay a big annual increase in their healthcare costs like the rest of us do -- we pay that for them. Funny how nobody mentions that in the "poor us, we haven't had a raise since whenever" litany.

All said, teacher pay raises would be much easier to swallow if, as others here have pointed out, they'd give 10% to the best teachers and nothing to the worst ones, instead of 4% to everybody. But the latter is what they'll do.

Posted by Kara
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm

4% raise….district insurance rates per employee up 2.5%….sighhhh.

Posted by Former Gunn parent
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 1, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I vote for giving good teachers raise, but not those bad lazy ones. I also know a few bad teachers in JLS and Gunn. They are not interested in helping kids but lazy and not willing to provide any extra help. Although both my kids had graduated from PAUSD, I guess I am still keeping "quiet" to save their face. I was planning to complain about them to PAUSD after both my kid graduate, but I changed my mind because no one will listen to me in PAUSD management anyway.

Posted by sigh...
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2013 at 4:29 pm

"Oh and also by the way, they don't have to pay a big annual increase in their healthcare costs like the rest of us do -- we pay that for them. "

I guess you missed this part of the article: "Teachers agreed to absorb 75 percent of this year's increase in health care costs"

Posted by neighvor
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 1, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Most PAUSD teachers are highly educated with credentials and experience. They deserve to be well compensated and they are. To keep in mind, their income is based on working from the middle of August to the end of May, with two weeks off for Christmas and a week off for Spring break, that's over three months off every year, yet they get paid for the whole year. Additionally, some teachers teach summer school, do workshops or run camps, so that too brings in a great deal of income. I would reward great hard working teachers with bonuses and raises and replace slackers who contribute nothing to their student's education and are a drain on the system. We are loosing our best teachers to private schools because dedicated teachers are tired of carrying the load for the lazy ones and get paid less since they don't have the seniority. Unions need to reevaluate their values and stop rewarding everyone equally.

Posted by Way to do Skelly!
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2013 at 6:18 pm

At least Skelly is smart and protects himself. He knows he better and keeps the teachers happy, or he will be out of PAUSD in no time, as the former superintendent did. This is a good way of keeping their mouth shout so no one criticizes the bad job he has been doing. It is the same thing he did with the lousy former principal at Terman. He gave her a promotion that clearly she did not deserve. We should all be proud of him this way all the cases brought up against the district will not win, because no employee will tell the truth when they got a good raise and specially no one will get fired, but promoted. Let's keep this guy here! The right time for a raise because it benefits Skelly and the board, but not the kids.

Posted by Longer time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2013 at 8:27 am

Skelly will be laughing all the way to the bank! This is his last year anyway. He's got his money, the teachers got their money, the principals and administrators will get a matching raise, then everyone will continue to keep quiet about suicides and suicide attempts, civil rights violations, secret payouts and agreements, and a board that is just along for the ride, not having a clue how to run a board meeting or lead a school district.

Posted by Teacher
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 2, 2013 at 8:36 am

"Walk a mile in my shoes comes to mind." If you only knew.
Quick suggestion to all of the commentators that have never taught a classroom full of students, try it. Pre K through 12. Volunteer to teach a lesson, just once. Solo flight. Plan a lesson, just one, not for the day, or week, or month, or year, just one, 55 minute lesson- your choice, as long as it aligns with the Common Core standards, GO FOR IT! Enjoy! Make sure your 1 lesson includes a way for non English speaking students to access the content. Have a plan for students who struggle with behavior norms. This could be tricky, remember it's not your kid(s). Don't forget, to differentiate for learning styles. Always assure that all types of learners can participate. (Or you'll get a phone call, followed up by a long meeting). If the students aren't able to engage with your lesson, well let's just say you might have some management issues. :( Make sure you have left yourself enough time to prep your lesson. I know it's just one lesson, but winging it won't work. Believe me. Again, it's just one lesson, so you don't need to worry about pre-teaching, assessment, or planning with your grade level, so it shouldn't take more than an hour or two to get prepped for a 55 minute block of time. Don't worry about the little stuff like eating lunch, checking your smart phone, or using the bathroom, you'll get to do that during the summer with all that free time. Or "Christmas Break" as long as you're not too sick by then. (germs) Even though you are just going to teach one lesson, you should probably write up a newsletter to inform the parents of your instruction and outcomes. They WILL want to know, and it is up to you to communicate with them, all of them. Hopefully, you are multi-lingual as your communications will need to be in several languages.
I know what you are thinking, "I can snack, and chat on my phone at recess or lunch"-WRONG, you have to supervise the kids; yard duty! Everybody's got to do it. I hope you are OK with blood, snot, and tears, there will be a lot. Either yours or theirs, it's hard to tell on any given day.
Then after your lesson, your 1 lesson, hurry home and jump online and share your experience. Maybe you will be simultaneously enrolling to get your credential, or maybe, just maybe you'll be thinking, "hell no, there's not enough money in the world to make me willingly sign on for THAT job!"
Just a quick suggestion. One lesson.

Posted by larry
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm

teacher - no job is easy, that is why its called work
you plan and your lesson just as workers plan and deliver projects, make presentations, deal with process etc
my kids' teachers seem to have no problem checking their email, txt etc during the school day
maybe its when their class is in pe, music or other class that involves another teacher
maybe your pay is not what you /need desire - many professions fall in that boat....your raise is great - just wish it was based on performance and not an across the board raise

Posted by Parents for Teachers
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2013 at 3:17 pm

@ Teacher - Some of us do really do try to get our teachers help BEFORE a child enters your class with behavioral problems and special learning needs, but are met with complete refusal to help the teacher, usually from Special Education and from principals. The response is that child is just a normal kid, these problems happen to all kids,that our teachers are so good they can handle anything. We try to point out that a teacher can't teach 24 kids in a room with one child screaming. We try to explain teachers can't teach the 3 weeks you wait to provide services or even advice on helping the child, and when you don't assign specialists to the school or only assign them a couple half days a week. What is a teacher supposed to do during the waiting time? Do children only develop disabilities after 3 weeks of school? We explain that though the District's model of helping kids in mainstream classrooms is beautiful and may be working at 2 schools which were given extra resources, at other schools you give the teacher close to nothing. We try to explain that though the District started full inclusion classrooms at 2 whole schools in Grades K and 1,you did not start inclusion classrooms at the other schools and grades. Special Education will tell parents the District has decided that because a couple of well resourced classrooms are successful at a couple of schools, all kids with special needs will now be successful at all schools in classrooms without those resources given to only two schools. We try to suggest that you only have two hands and one voice, there is a limit to how many different forms of differential teaching you can provide at the exact same minute in your class, especially if you haven't bothered to give the teacher training on how to teach the disabled child. The answer is that para-professionals (aides) with no teacher training will be assigned an hour a day to your class, or the new policy is that the aide or a series of substitutes will be the teacher, as we don't like to hire actual teachers. When the few school special education staff is sick, we will not provide a substitute as you will handle all problems alone. We try explaining that the teacher will end up in an emergency situation requiring massive disruption to the class, delaying the education of the other children in the classroom. The response is a consultant has signed an expensive contract to tell the teacher the opposite, and that consultant says differential learning means other children will teach the disabled children. If the teacher or parents think it is not succeeding, they are told you are just against inclusion for disabled children, that the teacher must want kids to be put in a dark closet like we did in the old days. If it mainstreaming in your class does fail, then they will send you a TOSA for an hour or so, or a contract behaviorist without a license who other parents have said to keep away from, who will interrupt your class, take data, and never put in a plan of action. You could have saved time and done it better yourself. We express concern that other kids have a right to their own education, and that children who watch disabled kids being bullied at your school are also hurt by it. We explain we want to protect not only the physical but the mental health and sense of well being of the typical kids in your class and school. We ask that since the District does know what problems the children will have in your class, why not get the teacher some help from Day 1? The response of Special Education is always a condescending smile, a comment saying let's wait for the child to fail in your classroom (knowing you will try your hardest for as long as you can to help the child before you ask for help, saving them having to be involved.) We are told that, who knows, the child might not fail next year, let us just all start fresh, defined as providing no help to the teacher. There may even be threats, you parents better get on board or the kid gets nothing. You parents have to want it because it worked in one Kindergarten classroom at Duvenick. What you parent's don't understand is that our teacher's are so great, maybe they can sprout six hands and perform miracles to make the child's disability suddenly disappear.
Yes, you are great teachers. And also human beings. Some parents do try to get you help. They don't want to hire more of you, so you have to do multiple teacher's jobs at one time. You deserve every penny of the low salary they give you.

Posted by Way to go Skelly!
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2013 at 9:53 pm

To Parents for teachers,
You really hit the right spot. This is one of the reasons that full inclusion does not work. Yes the district loves to put special ed in regular classrooms as long as they do not have to provide extra support for the teacher or the students. And if takes so long for the teachers to get extra support for the them and the student. I have seen it, I have been there. Yes I believe that the root of the problem is the job of Holly Wade as the money keeper. She makes sure she gets few parents services so she can call them to come a kiss her a.. at the board meetings, so it is on TV what a good job she is doing. When there are more than one parent complaining about the special education services their student is getting. Shame on them. They receive $$ from us tax payers, and the government and they do not stop to think before they ignore the rights of our students, like in the case of the Violation of rights of the student at Terman (first to become public). The parents ask so many times to get the student an aide so the bullying would stop, but they decided to ignore the big need to protect this student. This is why they fail the child. Keeping the money was more important for them than protect the student, but now they do have $$ to pay the new position to babysit our district administrators. Money should be spend on our students education and teachers not on lawyers.

Posted by Tax Payer
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:28 am


No one has mentioned the value of a BIG BENNY that SOME teachers have - the ability to send their child to a PA school (if space permits) as a non resident, (along the way getting preference which teacher their child gets etc.)
I am not saying they should not get this perk - but I believe its value /worth should be recognized

Posted by You scratch my back
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Having your child attend a Palo Alto school is not what it used to be. The last six years have not been kind.

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