UPDATE: The school board unanimously voted on Tuesday, Oct. 24, to reopen negotiations with its unions on this provision.
Palo Alto Unified's unions have agreed, at the district's request, to reopen negotiations on a one-time bonus teachers and non-teaching staff are scheduled to receive at the end of the school year.
The district sent a letter to the Palo Alto Educators Association and Classified School Employees Association on Oct. 7 requesting they return to the table to bargain this provision in their contracts, interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks said Monday.
The contracts provide for the 1 percent bonus to double if actual property tax revenue received is greater than the amount used in the board-adopted budget by 1.5 percent or more — which early property tax estimates indicate will likely happen. Santa Clara County provided the district an estimate of 6.52 percent in September, compared to 3.73 percent in the district budget.
Hendricks said the district hopes to discuss with the unions the difference in property tax assumptions between the contracts and the adopted budget.
The district's letter came about a month after senior leadership realized that no one formally notified the unions by a contractual deadline this spring that the district planned to exercise its option to reopen negotiations, with the intent of canceling a 3 percent raise this year. The raise totals about $4.5 million.
The school board will hold a public hearing at its meeting Tuesday to allow community members to provide feedback on the proposed negotiations topic. Staff will also be asking the board to give the green light to reopen negotiations.
Hendricks said she is currently serving as the district's lead negotiator. She was hired this fall as assistant superintendent for human resources to replace Scott Bowers, who had negotiated on behalf of the district in that position, but was named interim superintendent after Superintendent Max McGee resigned in late September.
She said it's possible that Barron Park Elementary School Principal Anne Brown, who was recently appointed to serve in the human resources role on an interim basis, would take over negotiations, but it has yet to be discussed.
Teri Baldwin, president of the teachers union, declined to comment on the reopening, writing in an email: "We don't discuss negotiation items when we are in negotiations."
Meb Steiner, president of the classified employees union, did not respond to requests for comment.
In other business Tuesday, the school board will discuss a proposal from member Todd Collins to limit the number of terms trustees can serve.
There is currently no limit, but Palo Alto school board members typically serve one or two terms. Current member Melissa Baten Caswell is serving her third term; when it ends, she will have been on the board for more than a decade.
When former member Camille Townsend was re-elected in 2012, she became the first Palo Alto school trustee in more than 40 years to serve more than two terms. Baten Caswell became the second.
Collins is proposing the board approve a resolution requesting the county to place a measure on the November 2018 ballot that would limit board members to two consecutive terms of four years each, the same as Palo Alto city council members.
In a report he prepared for Tuesday's meeting, Collins argues that term limits for elected officials are "common and proven good governance practice" from the local to state level. The Palo Alto City Council, Santa Clara County Supervisor, state Assembly, Senate and governor have been subject to term limits since the 1990s, according to Collins.
They're less common in school districts, however, but "not unusual either," Collins wrote. Voters in several California districts recently approved ballot measures to impose term limits, and another district is set to vote in 2018.
Limits also create turnover on the board that allows for new people and "unrepresented groups" to participate as well as a "continuous refresh of energy, ideas, opinions, and skills," Collins wrote.
Under state Education Code, "the governing board of a school district may adopt or the residents of the school district may propose, by initiative, a proposal to limit or repeal a limit on the number of terms a member of the governing board of the school district may serve on the governing board of the school district," Collins cites in the report.
"Our role is not to enact term limits – it is to offer the voters the opportunity to decide," he wrote.
The board will also discuss on Tuesday a proposed class size policy, district results from the 2017 Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test and next steps in a superintendent search process. The board is set to vote on district-wide goals for the year as well as designs for a renovation of Hoover Elementary School and new multipurpose rooms at El Carmelo, Escondido and Walter Hays elementary schools.
The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave. View the full agenda here.