Town Square

Post a New Topic

Palo Alto teachers to get 1-percent bonus

Original post made on Dec 19, 2012

With three dozen Palo Alto educators sitting in the room, all five members of the Board of Education Tuesday said they would support a one-time, 1-percent bonus for teachers and staff.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 19, 2012, 9:00 AM

Comments (38)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Dec 19, 2012 at 9:34 am

Would make sense to pay them a lot more now, and get rid of the lavish pensions. Then they can save for their own retirement like everyone else, while getting paid a great salary now.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marty
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2012 at 10:23 am

Nick,

You just sound bitter and selfish! Do you resent everyone you meet??

I'm sorry if your life sucks, but that's the choice you made.

The teachers deserve a little respect.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by teacher and mom
a resident of Addison School
on Dec 19, 2012 at 10:28 am

As a teacher and mom, I feel that they should give more money AND take away tenure like is done in corporate. It is not logical to me as a teacher....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Agree with Nick
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 19, 2012 at 10:38 am


Nick doesn't sound bitter or selfish at all - but poses a very reasonable position, which I agree with whole heartedly. Today's pensions will bankrupt our future! You only have to do some very simple math to show that. Too much money to teachers and administrators - not enough to kids, supplies and quality materials.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 19, 2012 at 11:20 am

I've been in a lot of school classrooms. I've sat on committees to appropriate money for materials.
"Agree w Nick" 's ending phrase "not enough to kids, supplies, and quality materials" is just another misinformed assumption about the mythical state of schools. PAUSD is not at all like school nationwide. Our per capita spending is huge. Our schools are chock full of computer carts, SMART boards, flipcams...(no comment on how necessary those big ticket items are to mastery of curriculum).
Thanks to PiE we have even more to contribute for classroom aides, art enrichments, etc.
We bus a large population of non-resident kids to/from school everyday. We run a distibuted kitchen service that brings hot meals to all campuses.
We have onsite counseling services.
If you have a lisp, we have speech therapists for you!
Arrive here not speaking English? We'll sit an adult next to you who speaks your native tongue.
Wanna learn saxophone? woodworking? robotics? PAUSD has you covered.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

So you're saying teachers/administrators are overpaid and that we should be giving more money to kids (?!) and buying more supplies and quality materials?
I don't agree at all. Teachers are by far the most important component in determining the quality of kids' education. I would suggest that in fact teachers are greatly underpaid considering their contributions to our society. Finland gets it - they pay their teachers as much as their lawyers and, as a result, have students that consistently score higher on standardized tests than their American couterparts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

One percent isn't enough to help, it almost isn't worth the trouble. This has got to be the only country in the world where teachers have such low pay and low socio economic status. It is shameful when they are treated this way.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by correlation
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I thought there was no or little correlation between spending and teacher/administrator salaries and student performance. The former seems to ever escalate, not so sure about the latter...
Forbes magazine or similar business pub had an article some years back contrasting a lavish American public high school with one in France. The French one was much more down-to-earth and concentrated on active learning, longer school day and respect for teachers, rather than frivolous stuff like giving everyone an iPAD at taxpayer expense (...though iPADs weren't invented yet, granted)and Winchester House type building projects like we see here. I just don't buy that ever more buckets of money down a black hole makes any difference. When our kids were in PAUSD we were always required to bring in stuff and supplies all the time.You certainly want qualified, professional, happy teachers and they should be correctly compensated BUT I think the union system has to be terminated. Realistic pension schemes are also necessary.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Shannon
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm

People claw their way into the Palo Alto real estate market because of the excellent schools. It's teachers and their hard work that makes those school desirable. Why then does the board give only a 1% bonus for young professionals who could be making much more in the corporate world, but who choose to work with children? Many of the teachers are deeply in debt for their education, drive long distances because they cannot afford to live nearby, and put off their own child-bearing because they cannot afford it. 1% seems pretty cheap, frankly.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Irony
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Quite ironic, I would say, that most of the people complaining that the 1% is too much are themselves making approximately double what these teachers make, doing a job that is far less important.

Let's face it: Most people aren't teachers because A) They don't have the skill B) They don't have the patience C) They want more money and D) They don't care that much about children (at least OTHER people's children). It seems like a lot of people in this area care a lot about their own children, or at least the SUCCESS of their own children. But would they take the time and effort to teach children of other people? Who would accept such low wages to do such a job, even if they could?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Try sending an email to a PAUSD teacher and see whether it ever gets returned. In the corporate world, bonuses and pay raises are earned with great job performance. That has not been my children's experience with most of their PAUSD teachers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm

> Teachers are by far the most important component in determining
> the quality of kids' education.

This is simply not true. The parents contribute far more to their children's educations than teachers do:

Another Look At API Student-School Performance Data:
Web Link

Obviously teachers play some part in the education process—but the parents contributions are typically ignored by the education establishment, and not always readily understood by the parents themselves. The API data, coupled with various Census data, tells the real story.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2012 at 6:56 pm

@Mom,
I think the adminstration pressures teachers not to leave an email trail, and I've seen evidence that school adminstrators are being told to handle things verbally whenever possible. That comes from a culture that sees parents as adversaries rather than partners at 25 Churchill. It could be your kid's teacher, but more likely there is an ethos in the school now that email conversations are bad, for certain issues at least.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Juan Valdez
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 19, 2012 at 7:23 pm

@Another parent

Your comment is 100% accurate. And when you've been present at parent/teacher meetings where the parents show up with their lawyer, it makes perfect sense.

The tiger parents of Palo Alto need to give it a rest. @Mom, don't like your children's teachers, feel free to move to another district, please!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by RussianMom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 19, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Wow! Lets all calm down. It's a great district because we have great
- teachers
- families
- kids.
The combination of all tree are making pausd so unique and special.
By removing one of the components, picture will change.
Respect to teachers is crucial and by teaching it your own child will go a long way.
Re a bonus. It's hard to live in PA with raising pricing for everything from taxes to utilities. Our salaries are not stretching fast enough. Then, whenever we have some surplus, we want to save if for the rainy day. BUT! Yes, our teachers deserve the bonus too. I vote for 1%, one time bonus. And I will also contribute by paying tutors, to make PAUSD a special district (no, I am not a tiger mom).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Yes
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I completely agree that all teachers should be paid more. If they were paid 6 figure salaries, they would deserve it and our country would have better teachers. Really, how many of us want to homeschool? As posted above, who really wants their jobs? Middle school and high school might be easier, but who really wants to be in a classroom with children every day? I love children but could not be with them all day, even if they are all well-behaved. Kudos to the elementary school teachers who spend all day with children with only a few breaks. Nannies charge at least $10/hour and elementary school teachers have 21 children. They aren't earning $210/hour.

I have three children and have been overall happy with the teachers in PAUSD. Sure, there are some lemons around, but win some, lose some. We've had some fantastic teachers. And I have seen some of the bad ones mysteriously leave the district.

I encourage everyone to be generous with gifts for teachers at the end of the school year.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm

> They aren't earning $210/hour.

Actually, they probably are, when all of the compensation dollars are accounted for.

A teacher starting at $50K, with an average 3% per/year increase, will after 30 years, be making at least $136K/year. If the average increase is only 2%, then the exit salary will be around $100K/year. The initial pension payout for these two scenarios will be 72%, which will will bring this teacher another $2 to $3M (depending on actual COLAs) for 30 years of retirement.

If all of the direct salary, benefits and pension payouts are added together, and a 30-year average salary computed--then this teacher will be making between $240 and $290 per hour (based on a 186 day year, and six hours on-site).

Of course, if the teacher were to be see other salary increases for merit, then these numbers could be higher.

Without taking all of the compensation into account--people can very easily claim that teachers are underpaid. But it's difficult for most people to agree that making an effective hourly wage of between 200 and 300 per hour amounts up to teacher abuse.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm

I noticed a typo in my posting. The numbers I should have keyed in are about $160/hour to about $200/hour, based on all compensation and 30 active service years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

To provide accurate info: The average salary for PA teachers is just under $87,000/year (9 mos). Although they have not received cost of living raises since 2009, they have received raises for each year of service and for additional education. There are a number of teachers with salaries over $100k/yr. This information is all available online.

Whether someone supports/doesn't support this raise, it is important to have factual info for reference.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by teacher's mother
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm

My son is a teacher and he spends 12 to 13 hours almost every day on-site. I don't know where you come up with 6 hours!!! Most teachers do more on-site than just their classroom hours!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Willy Loman
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm

>this teacher will be making between $240 and $290 per hour (based on >a 186 day year, and six hours on-site).

Hmmm - I know a few teachers - they're working some weekends, get in early for prep and stay often till 5 or 6pm to prep more and..work on email after dinner. I bet they wish they had a 6hr day! And btw - during the 6hr day - there's no sneaking away for a break - you have to be fully engaged with the kids!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Voter
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Teacher's mother:

Your son should get a much larger bonus than a teacher who works the very minimum, is unresponsive, unengaging, etc, who should get nothing.

It's a shame the teachers unions, in their constant battle against accountability, fight performance based compensation like it's the plague.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reality
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm

The conversation really shouldn't be about if teachers are good/bad, overpaid/underpaid, etc. It should be about people getting what they deserve. Some teachers are not great and shouldn't be paid as though they are. Others ARE great and are underpaid. Yes, the unions must take most of the blame for this.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by RT
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm

I understand about pension for jobs where your effectiveness is determined by your age, e.g. firefighter, whereby you cannot work at your profession for your whole life because of physical demands of the job. This is not the case for teachers. Teachers should be paid a fair wage and no pension.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm


> I don't know where you come up with 6 hours!!!

These are verifiable hours. Most schools don't require timecards for teachers, so there is no easy way to know how many hours any given teacher spends.

> My son is a teacher and he spends 12 to 13 hours
> almost every day on-site.

Then your son needs to seek help from his immediate supervisors. He clearly needs to have a senior teacher review his approach to his job. No one who has adequate time management skills should be spending that kind of time on the job. As his mother, you should counsel him to seek help from this department head.

> salary data on line

Several newspapers have taken on the challenge to put the pay of public employees on line. Sadly, the individual agencies have not. Moreover, there is much information not posted on these newspaper web-sites. As it were, it can be requested from each agency, under the California Public Records Act.

Pension data for public agencies (CalPERS and CalSTRS) can be obtained from www.pensiontsunami.com (at least for people drawing more than $100K/year from the pension funds). This can be eye-opening.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 20, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I have little doubt most of the posters here care a lot about the quality of our children's education, and we would like to reward the people who make it possible accordingly.
It boils down to dollars and cents, and living within our means. As part of this, I can think of two programs I would eliminate because times have changed and we need to adjust: (1) The Tinsley program busing in kids from outside Palo Alto, which creates a group of underperformers who use up lots of scarce resources, (2) The translator services the schools provide to non-English speakers. At some point, parents and families have to assume certain responsibilities and not just assume PAUSD will take care of everything.
We need to get away from this culture and sense of entitlement.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Dec 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm

What percent do teachers pay towards their pension each month/year? What's the contribution over 30 years with a starting salary at $52K (contract of 186 days)?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Information
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 20, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Teachers pay 8% of their salary into their retirement. The district contributes 8.5% and the state adds about one percent. This is higher, I believe, than most employees. The good thing, policy wise, is that this system forces people to plan for retirement. The bad part is that the expected returns that the state assumes from employees contributions is too high, like seven percent annually.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Accountable
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 20, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I don't agree with any raise without accountability. The tutoring service is booming for a reason. There is such a large disparity in our school classrooms. The odds of getting consistent, good teachers from k thru 5 is almost non-existent. I blame the system, administrators, and bad teachers. Greed is a terrible thing! thanks o our school board members, this will continue.. Sigh...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by myhometoo
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 21, 2012 at 8:02 am

Regarding Mr Wayne Martin:
Congratulations, your math skills are awesome, thank your teachers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2012 at 9:00 am

What is the average contribution (percent) that most people put towards their own retirement (before a company match)?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by correlation
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2012 at 9:36 am

Teachers get a perk in that their kids can attend PAUSD schools even if they don't live here. That is equal to quite a benefit for people who don't pay the horrendously high property taxes we pay!!!
Incidentally, I do know some PA teachers who do live in PA.
I think the desirabiliy of PAUSD schools comes from the often very poor education offered by OTHER areas of California. It's like damning with faint praise. That said, there are some very fine teachers in this district - I wish we could give those persons a nice bonus.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Yes
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 21, 2012 at 10:03 am

Yes, the Tinsley program is completely outdated and is only helping a few determined children with nurturing parents who would move to PA if Tinsley ended.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Does our BoE have the backbone to address removal of Tinsley? Hmmm. . .


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2012 at 10:13 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 21, 2012 at 10:29 am

> Congratulations, your math skills are awesome,
> thank your teachers.

As I have previously noted, teachers have played a role--but I have taught myself the mathematics which I have tried to apply to situations like this one.

With well-designed text books, and well-designed homework, people can teach themselves almost anything--at home, or these days, using the resources of the internet, and digital computing devices.

Some teachers may open doors, but it's the students who walk through those open doors.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Dec 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Much of the discussion on this thread was a shocking and disgusting display of Palo Alto selfishness. It's astonishing and sad that PA, one of the wealthiest communities in the U.S., would not want to reward their teachers for producing such brilliant students.

Sorry folks: it is not all genetic or self-taught success. Teachers present constant intellectual challenges to already high-functioning kids while also trying to support them as they deal with the pressures they face in this community.

Recognize the huge role that teachers play -- then look at the median income for other PA professionals and the median income for PA teachers. Geez.

Teachers are far from rich, the hostility over a bonus of a few hundred dollars (minus taxes) is appalling. It says a lot about "community" in PA.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by it's obvious
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 23, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Get rid of tenure after two years of no real performance.
Implement performance reviews.
Make teaching leads responsible for their teams performance and principals accountable overall rather than their current helpless stance. Pay the good more.
Let the poor go. As good as Gunn is its clear who the poor teachers are. They don't deserve ANY bonus money.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by debatable
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 24, 2012 at 9:15 am

Just the last two posts:

"Teachers present constant intellectual challenges to already high-functioning kids while also trying to support them as they deal with the pressures they face in this community."

vs...

"Let the poor go. As good as Gunn is its clear who the poor teachers are. They don't deserve ANY bonus money."

Yowsers.

Palo Alto is really a great place to live and send kids to school, or it just SUCKS.

hmmmmm....


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

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Mixx, Scott's Seafood replacement, opens in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 13 comments | 3,194 views

Ten Steps to Get Started with Financial Aid
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 1 comment | 2,158 views

To Cambodia With Love
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 1,979 views

All Parking Permits Should Have a Fee
By Steve Levy | 23 comments | 1,710 views

Early Campaign Notes: City Council
By Douglas Moran | 5 comments | 526 views