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Palo Alto teachers seek pay raise

Original post made on Feb 28, 2013

As Palo Alto schools cheer the best financial picture they've seen in years, teachers are asking for a pay raise.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 28, 2013, 4:18 PM

Comments (89)

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm

The PAUSD teachers have a very nice work lifestyle and environment. I think periodic pay raises are appropriate, though, but I am NOT in favor of across-the-board union-demanded raises.
Teachers are professionals and should be evaluated individually.
It is time to de-unionize. Some teachers here are outstanding, and some should not have been tenured after the short couple of years. Like any work environment, there are a spectrum of individuals with different performance, aptitudes, accomplishments.
BTW, noting that Superintendent Skelley had a nice 5% raise recently (last year? - it was noted in a Daily Post issue this week), I can see how teachers are also interested in raises.
Another point is the often eye-opening pay many local area government employees receive; I think the PAUSD teachers have a point when compared against many of those folks.
So - I guess I can see two sides to this issue.
BTW to my knowledge, in the local private employment sphere, bonuses and raises are hard to come by in the past couple of years.
Also, many people can't live in the city where they work - no one is necessarily entitled to that. I had to commute to San Francisco and couldn't afford to live there...I lived in another peninsula city with rotten weather and lower rents.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 28, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Will the Special Ed teachers who didn't take care of the bullying case properly and the personnel who transferred the second student with the same sickness to Terman also get raises with the bonus last year? I am so amazed that still some teachers are working very hard.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2013 at 6:01 pm

It is a little gross that Paley is calling an average salary of $85,721 indecent, when the average US salary is $46k and the median is only $26k (and those people work all 12 months a year). Not to mention the California unemployment rate sitting around 10%. How about being grateful for that money and the great job in a great city?

It is unfortunate that living in PA is so expensive that it excludes people who work here, but that doesn't mean the money is available to fix that.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Since when teachers have to live in the city they teach???? That is silly. There are so many people that works in Palo Alto and does not live here. Our city is expensive and not everyone can live here, that is a fact. It is silly to think that we need to raise teacher's salaries for them to be able to afford one million dollar+ homes. Really silly. We are already paying well, and there are a lot of teachers in our district that do a terrible job and most definetly do not deserve a raise.


Posted by Brian Guth-Pasta, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Brian Guth-Pasta is a registered user.

For those who don't know, Cystic Fibrosis patients who come into contact with one another can lead to further complications which the school would be liable for. In 2009, the median predicted age of survival was in the mid-30s, and that's without the cross-complication risk. Web Link)?


Posted by Johnny, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2013 at 11:16 pm

$85,000 to work 9 months a year is excellent. Too bad many Palo Alto teachers are paid it but don't earn it. Don't like the pay, choose a different line of work. Unions supporting non-qual members is what is wrong with America. You are entitled to nothing, earn your wages.


Posted by teachers do important work, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Brian, that subject has been discussed in depth on other threads. The child who was transferred did not have CF, he carried a gene, and it sounded like the district blew it all out of proportion. At the district level, they have a way of not working with parents, and just sort of going off on their own, believing and doing whatever they want because mostly they get away with it - that case was no different.

I have family who are high-level college administrators, in the most highly-paid departments, and they typically don't make a lot more than just the plain professors. When did we get to where the superintendent and this massive bureaucracy at the top commanded perks plus salary that were so much higher than teacher pay? Cut those excessive admin salaries back to be reasonable in relationship to teacher pay and you'd probably be able to increase the teacher pay bump by half or more.

Our teachers do important work. I do not begrudge them a good salary. I do begrudge that we pay the superintendent and assistant superintendent both more than the salary of the governor of California, WHICH by the way, was cut back not that long ago. Maybe we should make a rule that we can't pay them more than the governor, including the perks package. That would save, what, $400,000? more? right there, just between those two administrators, and there are lots more administrators making way more than they provide value to the district. We could save millions. I'm sure there are lots of qualified people out there who are a little more hungry and inclined to want to work with families instead of lord over them.


Posted by JQPublic, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 1, 2013 at 7:10 am

Not worth it.


Posted by Katie, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 1, 2013 at 7:37 am

Raises should be on performance.


Posted by Tracy, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 1, 2013 at 8:11 am

Teachers are actually compensated quite well in comparison to other professionals. If the worked 12 months instead of 9, thier salary would be around $114k. This doesn't include the extraordinary retirement benefits they accrue nor the fact they have amazing job security. All of which adds up to an a high level of compensation for a lot of teachers who phone it in. Teachers need to realize the union mentality of everyone is treated the same regardless of merit hurts their case. Some are amazing but there are also a lot of lazy and just plain bad teachers also and we have to treat them as equals. It's simply not the Real World, so teachers shouldn't compare themselves to that world unless they want to have the same risks and retirement benefits as the rest of us.


Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 1, 2013 at 9:03 am

"It's time to de-unionize".

Yeah right, that has about a snow balls chance in hell.

And that is their decision anyway, not yours.

In this despicable climate, where the "citizens" view the teachers with about as much respect they would show their gardeners or housekeepers (actually less) this probably won't fly.

But keep it up!


Posted by More information, please, a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2013 at 10:52 am

Generally speaking, one evaluates an entire compensation package--not just salary. What is the value of retirement, health and other benefits that are provided?

More information,please.


Posted by Educated, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 1, 2013 at 11:13 am

While health, etc. should be counted let's not forget that those aren't take-home pay items and can't buy food or gas. The majority of teachers work very hard not only during 10 months school is in session but over the summer on their own time prepping for the next year.

Over 50% of Palo Alto teachers have Master's degrees. The PAUSD students benefit from having such an educated teaching staff, and that comes at a price. You get what you pay for.


Posted by ditto Tracy, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 1, 2013 at 11:27 am

Absolutely grossly overpaid in wages and benefits and incredible job security. Private sector has wages and benefits coming down for years. In public sector you have job security AND escalating wages and benefits (they never go down)..paid for by that down escalator of the private sector. Completely unsustainable.


Posted by Teacher, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 1, 2013 at 11:36 am

The $85K average figure is misleading. That average includes all of the teachers in the district who have multiple degrees and have been teaching 20 + years. I have been teaching for several years and make nowhere near $85K. Also the salary schedule "caps out" at around $105K, so no teacher will ever make more than that. I'm not complaining, I'm just clarifying. The salary schedule can be found online as a PDF document -- google "pausd certificated salary schedule."

The underlying issues here are respect, equity, fairness, and teacher morale. Teachers in this district work hard, are expected to do a lot of extra work outside the classroom, beyond contract hours, on weekends and many work on curriculum over the summer too. We have watched administrators (Skelley in particular, but not just him) who lie and are borderline incompetent get raises yet when we ask for a meager one, the community calls us greedy and lazy. We have watched the district spend incredible amounts of money on facilities and ipads and smartboards,not to mention lawyers to clean up the messes made by the immoral and incompetent above us, but when we ask for the sake of our and our students' safety our classroom door locks be replaced with ones that can be locked from the inside, we are told it's "too expensive." And all the while they cut our medical benefits and keep our salaries flat, all the while asking us to "do more" and "do better."

I don't know how many people saw the recent article in the news that relayed the state wide survey of California public teachers, but the feedback was dismal. Teachers state wide are feeling the negative sentiments reflected often on this forum.

Palo Alto teachers are dedicated and hard working for the most part. We are constantly evaluated by parents, department heads, peers, students, and administrators. We put in lots of extra hours beyond what is "required" because we are passionate about the quality of our work and our commitment to students.

For a community and a district that demands "the best" for its students, one would think that they would honor teachers a lot more, and not be outraged that we are asking for a humble salary increase for the first time in years, as district spending on other things continues to increase and the district reserves get bigger and bigger. We would never have dreamed of asking for a raise when the budget crisis was real -- but now the district can certainly afford it, and it's the right thing to do.


Posted by sue, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 1, 2013 at 11:37 am

Teachers here work 10 months, not 9. They must be back on campus August 10, 2013. They also work far more than 40 hrs a week. Lesson planning & preps, homework & test corrections/grading, plus the numerous emails & phone calls from & to parents questioning grades, asking for test re-takes, assisting students outside the classroom, etc, takes many hours per week.

Not all teachers are "great" but their working conditions aren't that great either, depending on the school in which they teach & the quality of the administrators there. Some principals are notoriously unsupportive of teachers and seriously out of synch with classroom & student issues. Most teachers spend their own money for classroom supplies, photocopying, and, if the classroom has a printer, it's because the teacher purchased it himself. Middle & HS teachers buy dictionaries & thesauri for their own rooms because the doesn't provide them. Might sound like no big deal to you, but teachers plopping out $200-400 of his own money each August to equip his room is something people forget about. Classrooms at most PA schools don't have telephones, so teachers use their personal cell phones, or home phones, to answer all the parent requests for return calls. At PAHS, there are only 2 phones in the English dept. office, shared by about 25 teachers.

Teachers aren't perfect but they are human. If you're going to complain about how much they get paid, please consider the actual time & personal costs that are involved as you compare their salaries with those in other local professions.


Posted by Duh, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2013 at 11:44 am

If teachers don't get a raise, I suspect some will re-evaluate how hard they want to continue to work in a town that demands a lot from them while disrespecting them all the time. It's not immoral, it's basic self preservation logic and it applies to all careers, not just teaching. If you are repeatedly told you are not worth it, you will adjust your energies accordingly. Just read this forum once a week and you get a pretty good idea of how they are treated, and a small salary increase is hardly something to condemn them for. My kids have had a great education in Palo Alto and I think the teachers deserve much better than they're getting on this forum. Be careful -- You get what you pay for!


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Sue and Teacher-

I agree that most PAUSD work hard, but I disagree with a few of your comments. A beginning teacher's pay is over $51K, which is a great starting salary. Teachers may start on August 10th, but school now ends in May, so they get 2 1/2 months off. Teachers should NOT be paying for supplies at all in this District, our PTAs raise enough money, teachers just need to ask. Many PTAs routinely give teachers an amount at the beginning automatically to spend on supplies. Facilities money comes from a different source than salaries. A lot of the white boards, etc. have been purchased with PTA funds too.

I think elementary teachers put in a ton of hours. Middle and High school not so much (depends on the teacher). Once you have your curriculum in place, secondary teachers have less to do. Many of my kids teachers do not answer emails for weeks (middle school, some never answered) and would only meet with parents during their prep period, during school hours. One of my kid's middle school math teacher refused to meet with parents ever (even kids with 504s or IEPs when requested to join a School Study Team by the Guidance office). A couple teachers have their email set up to tell parents that they are off work and will respond during school hours only. As far as there not being phone lines for teachers to use, every one of my kids teachers from 4th grade on has asked parents not to contact them by phone, only email.

While work conditions may not be perfect in PAUSD, the kids generally come to school clean, well fed, healthy, with school supplies, homework done, etc. Parents are often demanding, but are also usually supportive. Most of the principals are good.

All that said, I think the teachers deserve a raise. I also would love for the unions to be gone so we could reward our outstanding teachers with even larger raises. Salary based on years of experience instead of effort and performance is just wrong.


Posted by Teacher, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I'm a teacher at Paly and I spend my own money on things for the classroom and for my own professional development all the time. And until this year I was using my personal cell phone for all parent (and across campus) calls because we did not have phones in our rooms.


Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 1, 2013 at 12:37 pm

"Absolutely grossly overpaid in wages and benefits and incredible job security. Private sector has wages and benefits coming down for years. In public sector you have job security AND escalating wages and benefits (they never go down)..paid for by that down escalator of the private sector. Completely unsustainable."

So the private sector gets rampaged by consultants and out-sourcing. Then this is used to foster envy and resentment towards public sector workers. And then buzz word "unsustainable".

Yes unsustainable. We need to regain unionization of the private sector, tax the bejesus out of the wealthy, and keep the progress that we have.

In Finland the teachers are unionized. Best schools in the world.

The problem is the disrespect and totally unsustainable superiority attitude expressed by the quote above. May the chickens come home to roost!


Posted by J, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm

What is interesting is the fact there are many tutoring places opening up in Palo Alto. Why is that if the education is so superior?

I think they should get rid of homework, or at least have kids complete the work in class. There is a lot of lecturing that goes on in class. Better to have them doing something. If they don't finish then it is homework due the next day. Have quizzes to see if they are understanding the material.

Private tutoring was, the last time I used them, was $75/hour. That is not bad.

I think a good idea would be to tie a raise to responding by phone.or email parents concerns and at the end of the day. Make that part of their contract.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Teacher,

If you need a telephone and materials for your class, the district should buy them with the surplus money. Probably not you, but other lazy teachers will just pocket their raises and even not bother to buy stuff for their classes. Oh, they do online shopping during their classes. Students are watching.

Gunn science department collects donations from students every year, warning that they can't buy enough stuff for science unless they have enough money. There is no surplus. The district just doesn't spend money for students.


Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I'm for giving them all the raises they want, if they just quit the horrible union.


Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Paley spoke at length about the message the board's actions on compensation send to teachers. He could afford to listen more himself. He refused to use InClass (now Schoology) citing illogical concerns like security, which make no sense coming from a computer scientist in a world where trillions of dollars are managed securely.

Spare a thought Josh, for what message YOUR actions send to parents and students.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Teacher - I am truly curious, have you asked the PTA for the $$ for supplies? Or your students' parents? Or asked for the specific supplies from parents? Over the years, we've been asked for everything from Kleenex to a photo printer, someone has always come through. I know a lot of teachers pay for their own professional development, I pay for some courses related to my career too. Thank you for doing that! I'm not sure what the big deal is with using your own phone for phone calls, your students and their parents are a local call, although not having a phone in the classroom could be a safety issue.


Posted by teacher, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Wow, I use to want to teach in Palo Alto because of the EXCELLENT reputation the schools have and the quality of teachers. After reading all of these awful comments about greedy teachers and horrible unions, I am glad I teach in a district that has supportive parents. They may not have the resources that Palo Alto parents have to their schools, but they RESPECT us. I wouldn't want to work in a district where parents will be so disrespectful of the teachers.

The teachers are the union, it isn't a separate entity. The executive board of a teacher's association are all teachers, who step up to be the voice of the teachers. The union doesn't protect bad teachers. Teachers are given permanent status by administrators, not the union (other teachers), they are evaluated by administrators, not their fellow teachers. If there is a teacher who isn't doing their job, a district can take steps to help improve that teacher and if the teacher chooses not to improve a district has a right to get rid of them. Administrators need to do their jobs. The union only protects due process and helps protect good teachers that might be higher on the salary schedule, so that they don't get fired for being expensive. Maybe the private sector needs that. Instead of being down on teachers for having job security, maybe you should want that for ALL professions. Because you might not have job security, no one should?
Also, teachers pay into their pensions and they DO NOT get 100% of their pay when they retire. People need to stop spouting things they hear on Fox news and learn the facts.

No wonder morale is down for Palo Alto teachers. To be treated so poorly and called names by such obviously, entitled and demanding community members would make anyone feel unvalued and beat down. Not only do you get what you pay for, but you will get back what you put out there. If I taught in Palo Alto I would seriously consider leaving!


Posted by Do your job, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Teacher from Mountain View, what you have written sounds like CTA drivel, something that Wendy Plew or Lisa Vieler would spew. Union leadership spend their time with lawyers either asking for more money or protecting those bad lemons that you wrote about. Our top administrator's latest issue demonstrates that there are good and bad ones just like their are many truly great Palo Alto teachers, some horrible ones, and a bunch in the middle. Should we pay each one the same amount?


Posted by teacher, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Do your job, I don't work in a district right around here and I don't know either of those people you mentioned, who I am assuming work for CTA. What I said isn't "CTA drivel" it is what I feel. I don't need to listen to others and spout their words. I am an intelligent, educated individual. I can think and speak for myself. I have been in a leadership position in my district in the past and I NEVER met with a lawyer and we never protected "bad lemons". It sounds like you are a teacher if you know CTA staff. Do you protect a bad teacher? Do you go and tell them they aren't doing their job well? Do you let Admin, know YOU are the union, if you don't speak up and do something, then YOU are protecting those bad lemons, not the leaders. Maybe you should Do your job


Posted by palo alto native, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 1, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Dear Teachers,

I am so ashamed by some of these comments. My only hope is that the vast majority of
people do respect the people that teach our children, and want a decent living standard
to extend to them. I am almost crying as I read these disrespectful comments. I am also nearly speechless.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 1, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I'm just curious, how do teachers at private schools fare comparatively?


Posted by Private School Teacher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I work in a private, independent school. Looking at the PAUSD salary schedule, it looks like our school pays similarly to PAUSD +/- a few hundred dollars. The medical benefits at public schools are typically better. We have defined contribution plans, not benefit plans. Our class sizes are smaller, we have few classroom management issues, and we typically don't have to ask very loudly to get resources.

But most of all, it sounds like my school's parent community values us more than this group values their public teachers. Perhaps the posters are the most vocal detractors of PAUSD; hopefully, they are not the majority.


Posted by Private eye, a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 1, 2013 at 3:56 pm

My son, my nephew and my three nieces all went to private schools. My son went to a school in Los Altos at the time, my nephew in Aptos, one niece in Woodside, and two nieces in Japan.

ALL of those teachers made more than public school teachers, the ones in Japan WAY! WAY more. Most, except the ones on Japan, did not have benefits quite as good.

However, a close friend teaches at a private school in Los Gatos. She teaches preschool there. She makes more money doing that, and even has a shorter day, than she did teaching fifth grade in Los Gatos public schools previously. She also has MUCH better medical benefits, but no other benefits than that.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 1, 2013 at 4:15 pm

The issue isn't that some teachers don't deserve more money, or even a lot more money. It is that it should be merit based, not an across the board increase.


Posted by any given Sunday, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Obviously what should happen is to dismiss Charles Young, who as the district's compliance officer failed to implement our written policies for complaints. Young earns nearly 200K. That money could be redistributed to teachers, along with the salaries of other surplus district officials who are unnecessary given that we have a system of site based control. Frankly you could leave Young's job vacant because having no one might be an improvement over having someone who is often inaccurate in the representations he makes. Or you could get a recent Stanford graduate intern in that job, since at least they would be diligent and care about whether they get a good recommendation or not.


Posted by Jim H, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 1, 2013 at 4:26 pm

If the district wouldn't waste money on things like landscaping Churchill and the excessive building of the athletic facilities (do we really need that huge entrance tower at Paly? Is that the Hansen Tower? ) then there'd be more money for teachers.

Hard to defend the teachers given their protection by the union. But also amazing that with all the money flowing in to the district that they're having financial problems.

Josh Paley says that his teachers back in Urbana, IL could afford to live in Urbana. First off, Palo Alto has obscenely expensive real estate, so that's just not realistic. A quick check shows that a 1st year teacher in Urbana makes $36,100, in Palo Alto, $51,422, or 42 % more. A teacher w 10 yrs experience a Masters and 30 credits of post grad work makes $49,027 in Urbana and $75,516 in Palo Alto, 54% more. The highest salary shown in Urbana is $81,174, which isn't even the "average" here in Palo Alto.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Look at the RANGE of teacher salaries published today in the Daily News.....look at the range. Most teachers don't earn anything like 80k.

Why is wealthy Palo Alto so cheap? You really want your teachers to live 50-60 miles away and commute on those salaries.

I believe teachers should ABSOLUTELY have their raise.


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Mar 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I am not a big fan of unions. That said, I respect and value teachers more than I can say. Do some posting here have any idea of the hours they put in outside of school, how mentally and emotionally involved they are in their work and their students, and the depth of their commitment? Not all, of course, as in every profession. And in Palo Alto they also expected to note psychological changes in their students, to almost act as therapists AND teachers.

I say they deserve every penny of their salaries.


Posted by Do your job, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm

I have every idea of what it means to be a teacher. I am one. The pay is fine, increased contributions to health plans eats up more of my paycheck, and teachers in all districts deserve a raise. But to suggest that we are all equally effective is where you lose rationale people. Parents can honor and value teachers without turning a blind eye towards ineffective teachers. but will everyone admit that we have ineffective teachers? Notice that PAEA and CTA have not come out and supported Skelly and Young nor have they proposed suggestions to combat bullying in the PAUSD. All you heard from Teri Baldwin was we need more money because some of us can't afford to live in Palo Alto.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2013 at 6:09 pm

No one ever suggested that talent/effectiveness doesn't vary among teachers. Some teachers are terrific, some are not -- just like in any profession. Doctors, lawyers, IT professionals included.

But this community has chosen to attack its teachers, despite the evidence that the district's students consistently perform at the highest level, despite tremendous pressures at home to perform.

Reading some of the anti-teacher posts on this site suggests that it would not be unreasonable to see this salary increase as "hazard-pay" for enduring the vicious community attacks. But there are objective economic reasons for the pay increase.


Posted by classified, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 1, 2013 at 9:54 pm

@Teacher, a member of the Palo Alto High School community - any thoughts about your fellow (transparent) classified? Moral? respect? fairness?

I have posted the following just prior to the recent OCR news -link: Web Link

Several threads in the past months addressed financial issues - those threads were not about kids safety, bullying etc. A parent commented there:

"It is a plantation mentality and it is clearly split down racial lines, you simply need to know your place. " - great description of PAUSD for many of us who need to know our place. Plantations had methods of teaching one's place.

Unfortunately, bullying is not "reserved" only to kids. That mentality hearts all. The kids breath the plantation air many hours a day. Classified are many times the closest to the kids, know what is going on.


Posted by PA teacher, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 1, 2013 at 11:12 pm

After 10 years teaching (working my butt off, by the way) in Palo Alto, I have finally had enough. Enough parents bullying me, kids begging for points, parents' relentless crusades to persecute teachers in order to save their kids from consequences for cheating or a teacher "giving" their kid anything less than a B. I am overworked, disrespected, unprotected by administrators, and have basically been working at a pay CUT (no cost of living increase combined with a decrease in district coverage of medical benefits = pay cut) for 4 years. Every other public high school and private high school I have researched pays MORE than PAUSD and I am 100% sure has a much more respectful and reasonable parent population. We should actually be asking for a 7% raise by my comparative research. Good luck, palo alto. I'm moving on.


Posted by Teacher , a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 1, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Thank you to those in the community who support us and our request for a very small raise. The union issue is an entirely different subject and one that teachers do not have control over. I must say that in this particular community no teacher in his/her right mind would teach here without union protection from parents and lawsuits.

And to those who continue to disparage us for asking that our hard work and value to hour children be acknowledged financially just to keep our salaries at #5 (I think it's not even that high if you compare pausd to san mateo county and marin county districts) compared to other local districts, I certainly hope you aren't asking your kids' teachers to do a minute of work (especially responding to your emails and meeting requests!) outside the contracted school hours.


Posted by classified, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 1, 2013 at 11:36 pm

@PA teacher, a member of the Palo Alto High School community,
@Teacher , a member of the Palo Alto High School community -
Any thoughts about your fellow (transparent) classified? Moral? respect? fairness?


Posted by percentage of, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 1, 2013 at 11:47 pm


How is the raise calculated, a percentage of base salary?

The raise for the 100,000+club, would be gynormous. Can the biggest earners ask for less?

I really wish that the union would allow performance pay in PAUSD. I bet parents around here would put in buckets into a bonus pool for good teachers.




Posted by Silly, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 2, 2013 at 6:40 am

PAUSD teachers are scheduled to work 185ish days, 180 of which are with students. Please note that there are 240 working days each year so they work approximately 75% of the normal year-round job. Please note that they also get 10 sick days on top of that that they can bank and use to be out of the classroom for weeks or even months at a time.

And while we do have some amazing teachers, it would be VERY easy to replace each and every single one of them. For every job posting, they get hundreds of applications. Teachers would gladly commute over an hour each way to have the average salary in PAUSD - and these are GREAT teachers.

Please don't live in a bubble and think that PAUSD teachers are amazing. Yes, like any district, there are some PAUSD teachers who are great and very talented. BUT every district has teachers like this, some of them many many more.

And as a rough guess, if there wasn't tenure in PAUSD and the principals were given permission to let go of the teachers who put in a minimal effort, teachers who create problems because of their behaviors towards students and parents, and/or teachers who just generally collect a paycheck each year, you'd see at least 25% of PAUSD replaced that summer.

And that 25% is a low estimate.


I'd fully support a substantial wage increase for the good teachers. That's for every district though. In fact, instead of donating to PIE, we take those funds and provide them directly to our student's teacher for use in the classroom.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2013 at 9:06 am

To those in PA who constantly disparage teachers (and firefighters, etc.) -- how about doing the job for a month, then seeing how you feel about the salaries?


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 2, 2013 at 9:13 am

Private school teacher - You said "Our class sizes are smaller, we have few classroom management issues, and we typically don't have to ask very loudly to get resources" I would LOVE to give our teachers that! I assume you are not in a union and that if you do your job poorly, you can be let go. Unfortunately, the few bad teachers that we are stuck with are the ones parents talk about, not the great ones. And we have a lot of great, hard-working teachers that make a difference in our kids lives every day.

I would love to be able to reward the great teachers. And eliminate the terrible ones that make kids dread going to school.


Posted by classified, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 2, 2013 at 11:20 am

@PA teacher, a member of the Palo Alto High School community;
@Teacher , a member of the Palo Alto High School community -
Any thoughts about your fellow (transparent) classified? Moral? respect? fairness?

Extra credit:
How would you define by-standing?


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm

> I'm a teacher at Paly and I spend my own money on
> things for the classroom

We hear this sort of complaint all the time, yet we almost never are offered any details to explain the situation. Can the person who posted this provide a little clarification?

Please tell us:

1) Do you have any budget (as a teacher, or as a department) for classroom supplies?
2) If so, how much?
3) Do you ever spend your own money for supplies, and then seek repayment from a school source?
4) Has any group of teachers ever pooled their receipts and presented them to the School Board (and the public) as to how much you believe (at a minimum) your need for "classroom supplies" might be?
5) Could you provide us here, in this thread, how much you believe you should be provided by the public for "supplies"?
6) Have you sought any funds from PIE, or PTA, sources for these "supplies"?
7) Could you itemize some of the items, and costs, you've paid for over the last year?


> and for my own professional
> development all the time.

In the real world, most people pay for their own "professional development". So, why should people (taxpayers) be expected to pay for their own "development"—and then be expected to pay for yours too?

So—could you tell us how much you are paying yearly? And could you relate that number to future pay increases that come with "professional development"?

> And until this year I was using my personal cell
> phone for all parent (and across campus) calls
> because we did not have phones in our rooms.

This is an interesting. Way back in the mid-90s, teachers were complaining about no telephones in the classrooms. So, the taxpayers passed Measure B, and then Measure A. Telephone access should have been available via those funds. Are you saying that there are still classrooms in district schools without some sort of telephone service?

By the way, these days there is email, Instant Messenger, and VoIP—all of which are Internet-based. Are you aware of these new communications tools, or just unwilling to use them?


Posted by just a resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm

I totally support to give a raise to good teachers. There should be a performance review of each teacher, not just by their boss in school, but also includes parents and students survey. And, this performance review should be available for public for auditing. Then, base on this review, good teachers should have pay raise, and bad teachers will get warning notice without raise. Since you teachers are all public workers, this info should be open to any resident in Palo Alto. Last Thursday's Daily Post published each teacher's salary, which is a little shocking to see many make $95-100k a year. And, I do recognize some names that my kids and I used to complain about them, but fell into a "black hole" anyway....that is the frustration of a student and parent.

California is ranking #41 at the bottom of the US schools and gets "F". This is a shame for such a rich state. Do teachers feel the responsibility that they should work on this lower rating to improve it, instead of only asking money?


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm

> California is ranking #41 at the bottom of
> the US schools and gets "F".

Comments like this frequently appear in discussions like these, but really don't mean anything—because there are many, many, variables that need to be added to the equation before anyone can make any sense out of the results.

For instance, California is the home of millions of recent, and illegal, immigrants from south of the border (primarily Mexico). High school graduation rates in Mexico are barely 30%, and college graduation rates far, far, lower. Most of these immigrants do not speak English well, and most certainly don't spend a lot of time in intellectual pursuits. This clearly disadvantages their kids—with high school graduation rates in the Los Angeles area at about 50% for these sub-groups.

It doesn't matter how much you pay teachers, because the parents are the driving factor in their education, their socialization, and the transmission of "culture". These kids are clearly disadvantaged, by birth, and the California Public School System is not going to mitigate that situation very much.

We also have to look at the hidden costs of education—such as capital expenditures. Most school districts do not clearly track capital costs—which can often be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. One high school in Los Angeles recently ended up costing over $500M! Here in Palo Alto, with Measure B and Measure A expenditure authorizations ($85M + $375M + financing costs)somewhere over $600M to $700M in building rehabs/new construction, from 1995 until maybe 2020 (or so). It will be very hard to find the PAUSD openly tracking these costs, although there might be tidbits in the yearly budgets. It's very likely that less than 5% of the current parents are remotely aware of the capital that has been funneled into this school district over the years.

The Legislative Analyst's Office for the State of California tracks educational costs, as the US DoE. California is about average in its per-student spending (about $10,500 per student per year).

Another point to remember is that there are no tests that are fully nationalized. The NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) is not administered to every school. The aggregate scores are extrapolated statistically. So, whatever rankings that people come up with are based on a less-than-rigorous set of test data.

Even national rankings of teachers' salaries are just raw data. To make any sense of of them, they would need to be weighted by various factors, such as years-in-service, and local cost-of-living. These sorts of analyses are never done—particularly by the teachers unions, which are most always the source of these data.

What's also missing from these sorts of comparisons are the long-term pension payouts for teachers who retire at 30 years. In California, teachers who retire at 30 years will receive 72% of the final salary. For teachers retiring with salaries at/above $100K, that means that they will receive a pension payout of at least $72,000 each year for the rest of their lives. COLAs are applied, so that over time, this $72K creeps up, and could easily be at/over $100K per year. This means that these "underpaid" teachers will also be receiving between $3M and $4M in retirement—all of which is not on the table, when we are talking about salary increases.

It's very hard to find jobs in the private sector these days where people get $3M-$4M pensions. However, these pension payouts seem to be guaranteed by the taxpayers for people like teachers, however.


Posted by Do your job, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I do criticize some teachers in the PAUSD. There are some awful ones in certain schools and like anything awful in any body or organization, they tend to take attention from the majority of good to great teachers. However, after reading this thread, there are a couple of you out there who seem to think that it is not allowed to criticize teachers, PAEA, CTA, or their leadership, such as Teri Baldwin, who told us publicly last Tuesday that a teacher was actually commuting from Santa Cruz. Does she know how elitist she comes off? Why are teachers not storming the board meetings and 25 Churchill demanding the resignation of Kevin Skelly and Charles Young? Why are they not protesting the incompetence of the board, which said they would have liked to know about tr OCR violation "in April"? Why haven't the principals spoken up?

Obviously, the culture of the PAUSD is one of silence. Be quiet and collect your check and health benefits, which is evidence of a corrupt, broken system. It's just something that we have to accept. But if teachers and principals had spoken during Open Forum last Tuesday, think how heroic those of us would have viewed them. Taking a social and professional risk to benefit a child or children is what we are all about. Teri Baldwin, never approach that dais again unless you make that abundantly clear. We don't care that you have to buy gasoline. We have to buy it to. Doesn't matter that you are not living in Professorville. There are affordable apartments in the Ventura corridor. Stick up for kids, stand up against tenured teachers who are not performing, and I'll march down to the board and lead the charge to double whatever you are asking for.


Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm

To the teacher who posted she has to buy some of her own supplies...

The poster "Wondering" has provided you with an itemized list for which he/she expects a reply to. Your failure to do so in an expedient manner shows your lack of respect for her ordinate position. This means you are probably one of the "bad" teachers. And only your union is preventing you from being summarily dismissed for this rank insubordination.

Snap to it!


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Thank you, Wondering?
You have added vital details to put the situation in a context where it can be better understood. I hope we can all get better educated on the subject of public education and the incredible vast resources devoted to it.
On a related matter, I have contacted my legislators to recommend streamlining of CA's public ed system, including consolidation of districts, consolidation of the two top execs, and other creative ideas to reduce bureaucracy and bring more dollars to the classroom, but these emails and letters have received no meaningful response - EVER - from our politicians.


Posted by Just a teacher, a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Wondering?
I think people should also know that teachers contribute over 8% of their salary towards their pension. Teachers do not get a "match" of what they put in. What current teachers contribute now, helps support the retired teachers.

I'm curious to what the private sector put towards their retirement and what percent receive a match from their company?


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Just a teacher -

Depending on the type of retirement plan somewhere between 20-50% of full time employees have a retirement plan (the average being 34%). The best retirement plans typically match the employees' contribution of up to 6% of their income.

In other words, most private employees don't have a company retirement plan at all.


Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm

All your inane questions are answered here.

Web Link

BTW it was created by the CA Teachers Union. This is really what's it all about.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2013 at 10:03 pm

@A Noun Ea Mus - California has a very progressive income tax. The top 1% account for 40% of income tax revenue. The top 10% account for 75% of revenue. Don't blame the rich not paying enough for the terrible management of California.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 3, 2013 at 1:06 am

>> what the private sector put towards their retirement

In the private sector I contribute 6.2% of my gross income toward my pension and my employer matches with another 6.2%. (I note that my employer doesn't print this matching money, I must earn it for the enterprise, or looked at another way our customers pay it through increased prices.)

I may retire at age 67, after 40+ years of contributing, and collect around 22% of my final covered salary for the rest of my life, indexed for inflation. Non-teachers will recognize this as Social Security.

Even though it's regressive, I may live long enough to collect what was put in, as long as the government doesn't begin to means-test it.

My tax-deferred 401k will add to this, but will probably turn out to be a wash compared to just banking it as post-tax dollars. Moving to Nevada might help.


Posted by facts, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 3, 2013 at 8:02 am

In four months when PAUSD gives the teachers a 3-5% raise on the salary schedule, don't be surprised.

Horrible decision but it's going to happen.


Posted by Paley Pales, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Paley's argument suggests that because he works in Palo Alto and serves the community here, that he is somehow entitled to live here. It would be nice but that doesn't mean it's justified. I doubt he wants to pay his garbage worker or street cleaner (who also serve the local community) the wage they would need to live here. If this is his only justification for asking for a raise, it's nonsense. He needs to understand that wages (and property values) are based on supply and demand, not on some other principle -- the USSR tried some of the other approaches and we all know what happened there.


Posted by Cell Phones, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm

@Teacher:

> And until this year I was using my personal cell
> phone for all parent (and across campus) calls
> because we did not have phones in our rooms.

I use my cell phone for my work every day. My employer does not compensate me for my cell phone (other than my salary). Welcome, teacher, to the real world your non-pensioned taxpayers live in.

And as for this:
> I think a good idea would be to tie a raise to responding by
> phone.or email parents concerns and at the end of the day.
> Make that part of their contract.

I could not agree MORE. The number of times I have emailed a teacher and gotten no response or just a completely useless response is disgusting. Some of them take advantage of the fact that they're really not held accountable for communication. No wonder they want to stick it out here rather than in the real world and risk unemployment.


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm

There are actually a couple things I would like tied to teacher's raises (or their contract)

Posting grades on Infinite Campus on a regular basis (more than 3 times a semester). Some teachers are wonderful, some never or almost never post anything.

Grading work in a timely manner

Posting assignments to Schoology

Responding to parent's emails in a timely manner (our kids have had teachers that never respond and/or refuse to meet with parents even at the request of administrators)

And in my ideal world, we would have only one online source for school, not a combo of Infinite Campus, Schoology, Facebook and teacher websites.


Posted by out of state teacher, a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm

As an out of state teacher (reading paloaltoonline because my children attend Stanford), I am amazed at all the negativity toward your teachers. Your schools are nationally recognized as top notch. Your teachers (at least most) are likely outstanding. My "real world" husband who works "12 months"... well, his companies provided him stock options and 401K matching funds, and 2 weeks' vacation for every 3 years he worked. He had more "time off" than I. Now that he is self-employed, he has that perspective. I pay 9.78% into my pension every month, and a formula determines my pay out. When I started teaching, it was because of a passion I had (I didn't even know about my defined benefit plans). Now that I am at the end of my career, I can't get out fast enough. I'd never let my talented children become teachers and put up with all this disrespect.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm

If you look at my posts, you will see they are not disrespectful but they raise both sides of some issues.
Many in the private sector have not had regular raises or bonuses in recent years and we are very highly taxed here.
Since I am familiar with high-performing schools in several states, I will disagree with you the Palo Alto is unique; I have received yawns in Boston, trust me.


Posted by Do your job, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Our schools are not top notch. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff,] being found to have disproportionately put Latino and African American child in special ed (10-11), and having the OCR declaring that district administrators and teachers violated the civil rights of a child are evidence that this system is not top notch.

This system includes at the very least all of its employees so all should be scrutinized. Unfortunately, this district does has a history of parents driving out superintendents, principals driving out superintendents and associate superintendents, and teachers driving out principals. All are part of a system that few can deny is broken and dysfunctional.

This thread may be about teachers, but every other member of the system has had to face this criticism, it would be unfair to hold them to a lower standard than the superintendent or a custodian.


Posted by just a resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm

It is true that every time there is a "news" about PAUSD, there are lots of comments about teachers in this forum. This is because the parents in Palo Alto really care about education. It is a positive sign that parents want to be involved. I think PAUSD/teachers should take this as a positive one instead of negative reaction to these comments.

I am sure most teachers in PAUSD are good/excellent teachers. However, there are few bad teachers that damage the reputation of the whole teacher body of PAUSD. For those good teachers, you should united together to get your reputation back by changing the union rules and firing those bad ones. How to find out who is bad? Listen to the students and parents...they are your customers. Otherwise, you will see many negative comments here because your customers are frustrated!


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm

A reader of these pages is starting to see Palo Alto as a hostile community that:

-- Hates its teachers and underpays them, even though the students consistently display great academic achievements, the highest test scores, and the most successful college admissions.

-- Hates its local politicians about a week after they elect them. Also hates all City workers especially fire and police personnel.

-- Hates Stanford University and Medical Center, even though they love taking advantage of its cultural offerings, the campus open space, and its world-class medical facilities. Oh Yes...a local sport is blackmailing the University to get some of their land.

-- Hates "outsiders" who shop in Palo Alto, even though they get a tidy sum from the activity and their business district is healthy.

-- Hates out-of-town drivers for deigning to use their public streets or park on them. So the city is now a maze of dead-ends, one-way streets, absurd parking restrictions, etc.

-- Hates all newcomers, especially their Asian neighbors.

If so many PA residents are so unhappy, why don't they move? Their inflated housing values will buy a lot of house and private school in a lot of communities.


Posted by Not a customer, a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I would have to disagree that students and parents are customers. Though teachers work with students and parents, that doesn't mean they are customers. It's almost sounding like teachers are servants to students and parents. Teachers are employed by the school district and follow district and state guidelines. The Board of Educations is elected from the parent community.


Posted by ABC, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 3, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Anyone who lives in Palo Alto shouldn't have ANYTHING to complain about. You have everything people in the world could ask for. Yeah some teachers arent perfect, and firefighters and police make a ton of money....but do YOU serve the public in any sort of way? Probably not. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by reality, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm

neighbor,

'If so many PA residents are so unhappy, why don't they move?'

because we hate to move

Reality is

- PAUSD has high test scores not just because of the teachers, but because the community is highly educated

- Local politicians who are incompetent deserve the heat, not sure if you are referring to anyone specifically.

- PA is too busy to take advantage of the cultural offerings over at Stanford, have you seen how much it costs to buy a house here? We have to work.

- we love outsiders who shop here!

- we hate cars true, which is why we bike. We would not be the first to ask for permitted parking in neighborhoods, like SF.

- We are all newcomers!!! From Asia and every part of the world. We don't hate ourselves.



Posted by just a resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm

"Customer" may not be a perfect word here, but I could not find another word to describe the relationship of teachers and students. For sure, teachers are not servants...servant is not a right word here neither. I work for a private company, when our buyers/customers complaining our product, we have to work harder to find a way to improve our product, to solve the issue of our customers. Otherwise, the company will go down, losing value, and you know what is the next of that company. But for PAUSD, when students complain, no one listens, no one reacts in PAUSD, then no improvement at all. That is the problem. No matter how bad it is, it will still get money, no consequence of bad doing of any teacher or PAUSD administrator. Tax payer will fund them anyway. Do you think this will work in any private company???


Posted by Teacher, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 3, 2013 at 10:02 pm

I'd like to point out that Superintendent Skelley, who either does not know or chooses not to follow Ed Code, civil rights laws, and several district procedures (not just regarding the bullying debacle) and who has been caught at least twice lying to the Board about his mistakes in addition to a host of other what should be fire-able offenses, was given a 5% pay raise last year, according to a recent news article. His raise was larger than the one teachers are currently asking for, and certainly not based on merit or integrity. And I'm willing to bet that last year's raise was not his first in 4 years, as this one will be for us, IF we get it.

Ridiculous.


Posted by Teacher, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 3, 2013 at 10:23 pm

WHY are parents not demanding Dr. Skelley's resignation? Why instead are they picking on the teachers who have to beg for a 3% raise after 4 years of polite silence -- a raise which will barely restore our salaries to 2008 levels, if you calculate the cuts that have been made to our medical benefits. Why bash us instead of asking the Board why they continue to reward a dishonest and incompetent leader? It all starts at the top, you know...


Posted by Parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2013 at 10:31 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Do your job, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Teacher, please stop feeling sorry for yourself. Each article that the Weekly writes about Skelly results in dozens of new parents posting demanding his immediate resignation and also Young's. It is your own union leadership that has failed you. Remember, you are the union, as the CTA and PAEA party line goes. You and your union said nothing last June when the Board extended his contract. Go complain to Triona Gogarty. Deals were made. Go complain to Teri Baldwin. She blew it again at the last board meeting. Your CTA overseer, Wendy Plew, has control of your union, so please don't blame parents, especially those, who like you, cannot let the blatant underperforce of Skelly and Young go unmentioned, but parents differ in that they also cannot turn a blind eye to the small group of lemons in your ranks who make a large negative impact. It does all start at the top, so go to your leaders, or better yet bypass them and band together like a true association of professionals and led the way with a comprehensive plan to protect all children, present an alternative to measuring the effectiveness of teachers, and declare a vote of no confidence in Skelly, Young, Wade, and the Board. Do any of that and I'll be first to sign the online petition to get you your raise? What are you going for right now? Four percent plus an extra two percent in the health care costs that were raised arbitrarily by the providers?


Posted by classified, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2013 at 10:59 pm

@Teacher, a member of the Palo Alto High School community-
Any thoughts about your fellow classified? Moral? respect? fairness?

Do you think that knowing ed-code/civil rights law/district procedures/training is essential for identifying bullying? How would you define by-standing? What do you think about by-standing?


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2013 at 8:41 am

> Your schools are nationally recognized as top notch

Really? By what agency, or rating source?

> his companies provided him stock options and
> 401K matching funds, and 2 weeks' vacation
> for every 3 years he worked.

That's nice—but finding companies that offer pension programs is increasingly difficult. But more to the point—what exactly are they offering in this pension package? Here in California, school teachers get 72% at 30 years. Police/Fire get 90% at 30 years. Both have COLAs applied, even if the CPI were to drop to 0%.

While it is difficult to generalize about pensions—it's not hard to come up with a example that is eye-opening. That example was provided above, but will be repeated here for your benefit.

Teachers at 30 years (not 40+ years like most people) can retire at 72% of their high years salaries (more if they work longer). That means that a teacher retiring at 30 years with a $100K salary (not that hard to find these days), will see a $72K a year pension—to start. Assuming that the teacher lives to about 85 years (typical female mortality at the moment), this means that that teacher will receive somewhere between $3M and $4M additional dollars from the State Educational Pension Program (CalSTRS).

Some teachers are quick to point out that they are "contributing" to their pensions, as if they are "victims". It's not that hard to estimate that a typical teacher will have contributed somewhere between $150K and $180K into the pension asset pool, from which they will likely draw $3M-$4M, over the next 30-40 years.

So, to our remote reader/teacher with children at Stanford, please ask your husband to try to estimate his pension payout, and while you are at it—please estimate your own. It would be most interesting to learn which of you will be better taken care of in your retirement years by your previous employers.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Skelly recently received a 5%+ raise. Did he deserve it? Is his performance as of late worthy of a raise? NOT!!


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm

It seems that one bit of information is always missing when the salary increases are raised -- there are already salary increases (automatic step increases with each year of service that slow down after so many years). The increase requested is on top of current, ongoing raises. I have enormous respect for teachers, but this request fails to recognize the sacrifices some residents make through the school parcel tax, fails to acknowledge that very few people in the bay area work and live in the same community, or that the current salary structure is quite fair.


Posted by jerry99, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm

The high salaries for teachers is bad enought, but add to that the fringe benefits of not working for 3 months in the summer plus the outrageous pensions + paid sick leave+ lifetime medical benefits are its sickening. Why don't they worry about teaching the children instead of continually shaking down the city residents for more money?


Posted by jerry99, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm

The high salaries for teachers is bad enought, but add to that the fringe benefits of not working for 3 months in the summer plus the outrageous pensions + paid sick leave+ lifetime medical benefits are its sickening. Why don't they worry about teaching the children instead of continually shaking down the city residents for more money?


Posted by Teacher, a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 4, 2013 at 7:46 pm

@ Mary -- Excellent point.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2013 at 5:56 am

First, I love teachers. They should get a raise. But whatever pension promised, must be funded by the teacher's contribution and a contribution from the school. Unfortunately, the actuaries are not requiring sufficient funding for the pensions promised. I have maxed my 401K for 20 years (with some matching), and would get an annuity of about 10 percent of my salary. I think we would see that the pensions would go way down or the funding would have to be 50 percent of salary at least (making teachers' compensation not so bad). The pension situation is what makes teachers and others feel underpaid, but in reality, most of us are getting the salary now, taxed at a high rate, and the teachers and public workers eventually get it(at a much lower tax rate).


Posted by Just Asking, a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 5, 2013 at 11:04 am

Has the district provided an accounting of pension liability for teachers? CALSTIRS, the teacher retirement program is way underfunded by participants. What is PAUSD's funding %--that determines liability going forward. Remember, the base salary is just the tip of the iceberg--there is that balooning pension that the district has to fund year to year and it grows as salaries rise, as people live longer, and retire earlier.


Posted by Ed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2013 at 11:12 pm

I'm about to go off, but first I want to say I like teaching in this district and I've been around. Great kids and parents for the most part, take the bad with the good and I want to keep working here. But some of you are getting on my last nerve using this negotiation as your excuse to come at us, so here goes. Regarding the "9 months" of work teachers do, I've been in education over 20 years and I don't know a teacher who doesn't put in daily or weekly hours above contract. You look at us leaving at 3:30 maybe but you don't know that same person arrived at 7:30 and after she takes care of her kids she's going to be working another few hours that night. You don't see who's there over the weekend setting up something cool in the classroom. You don't see the lab notebooks or essays piled high for weekend work while our families go out to have fun without us. It's okay - we make the trade off, but don't belittle our work with that "9 months" cannard. Set aside the fact that many also work portions of the summer. If we went down to even a 40hr week or maybe even 50hr/wk, we'd be putting in the same or more hours per year as non-teachers. I mean, the real work load is so far beyond contract that "work to rule" is a high-stakes negotiating tactic because it means teachers doing so much less than they usually do. You can be forgiven if you didn't know that because teachers in this district have been pretty cooperative and appreciative. We don't want to be in conflict. If this community wants to see how it looks when we stop working nights and weekends, and stop advising clubs, stop writing rec letters, stop supporting school events, then hey, go for it. Come out from behind Town Square Forums and start up a petition (got guts?) to tell teachers we're fine leaving your pay where it's at and having you just do the work in your contract. Bring it on, brave commenters. You think unions are the problem? Picture the problems you'd have if teachers had to worry about holding the line in the face of every vocal parent, or if we had no standing in our dealings with new principal coming along every few years. You should see some of the vicious email we get for having these things called "due dates" or for giving consequences for cutting on test days, or cheating on papers, to children whose parents think anything goes or it was just some misunderstanding. Take a look around - the top public ed. states and countries in the world have the stronger unions. When unions get wages up in an industry, it has a proven ripple effect that raises other wages too. People unhappy with what unionized people have should go get their own, stand together.


Posted by Teacher, a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Preach it Ed. There's a reason that for teachers, working only the hours stipulated in the contract is actually a bargaining tactic. Today, for example, I taught my classes, came home, spent some time with the family, and then went right back to working once everybody else was in bed. I'll likely be up another hour or so.

I don't want to sound like I'm simply complaining. TEaching in Palo Alto is nice because you generally don't have to worry about gangs and other discipline problems too much. I truly do appreciate the vast majority of the students and parents in this district, and I'm very thankful for my job and where I work. What drives me nuts is the overwhelming sense of entitlement/superiority that some have. Some students seem to think that they are smarter than students elsewhere simply because they live in PA. I've worked here and I've worked elsewhere, and the smartest student that I've had in PA would probably be number 4-5 on my list of smartest students. That's not to say that I won't have someone next year who leaves everybody else in the dust, though; it's just to say that entitlement and superiority based on address is asinine.


Posted by Sigh, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Mar 6, 2013 at 7:37 am

Oh my gosh. I have worked in health care with an equivalent degree to a teaching BA ( I have a BS) for 30 years...I make $82,000/year, get 3 weeks off per year INCLUDING sick time and another 6 days of paid holiday. Granted, I would have more paid time off if I hadn't changed jobs, up to 4-5 weeks per year, but nothing like the 3 months ( yes..3 months, don't forget 2 weeks winter and 1 week spring and all the school breaks between that teachers get) that our equivalent teachers get.
Benefits? I pay 20% of my medical insurance, no match into retirement. So, quit whining.
Working at night? When do you think I get my documentation done? It isn't during my "work time",..never enough time to get paid to get all the ever increasing documentation requirements done in a world of severe liability: if it isn't written down, we didn't do it and if we get sued, there is no proof. All has to be written down, from phone conversations to messages left to what we did and how the patient responded to ... on and on.

I get very tired listening to teachers complain about their work load and their pay etc. Just stop. PA teachers are well paid, well-benefited, great time off. Just stop. I appreciate you, deeply, yes..but please stop complaining to me, the taxpayer, who makes less than you and works more, about how hard it is on you. I am not complaining, just laying out the facts.


Posted by Teacher, a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I love teaching in Palo Alto - it's the best job I've ever had. I feel honored to teach some very bright and talented students, and I am grateful to be paid well and to enjoy good benefits. But I have to say that I am appalled at the hostility of some of the comments on this thread. We wonder why there is such a huge bullying problem in our schools - we need look no further than the voice of this community itself, a portion of which is perfectly content to come onto this forum and berate the hard-working teachers of this district as if we are a bunch of lazy bums who do nothing but suck the taxpayers of this district dry and hang out on the patio during the summer drinking margaritas.

Every profession has lemons. There are bad doctors, bad lawyers, bad cops, bad software engineers, and bad plumbers. It's qualitatively different with teachers because we spend some time every day with your kids, and you entrust us with their care. Personally, I take this obligation very seriously, and I believe that the overwhelming majority of my colleagues do as well. I try my best in the short time I have with them every day to teach them kindness and thoughtfulness and compassion, as well as the nuts and bolts of our subject, but from the looks of this forum some of the less fortunate ones are getting an entirely different overt/covert message from the attitude and behavior of the adults in this community. It's a bit disheartening, to say the least. :-(


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