Ravenswood City School District teachers are receiving a 10% pay boost this school year, bringing their salaries on par with other nearby school districts.
The raise, approved by the East Palo Alto district's governing board with a 5-0 vote at a Thursday, Nov. 18, meeting, is their first since 2019. The pay bump also comes with a new evaluation process. The system will allow teachers to "move more quickly up the salary scale based on their performance evaluations," according to a district press release.
Ravenswood Teachers Association (RTA) President Ronda White called the raise "huge," in a statement. At the meeting, White said she is grateful the district administrators and the teachers union have moved past their previously contentious relationship.
"There was a time when we sat across from the table and yelled," she said. "Now don't get it twisted — the teachers are a little nervous. It's change. But we're all up for the challenge. We're here because we love these kids. And some of these kids are our own kids. They are personal to us."
The raise, retroactive July 1, 2021, will cost the district $1.3 million, according to the district. It will be offset by a grant from the Ravenswood Education Foundation, according to the press release. The contract runs through June 2022.
Longer term, the district plans to lease two properties to cover the majority of the cost of compensation increases, the release states.
Superintendent Gina Sudaria called the contract "a major step toward correcting a longstanding, inequitable gap between teacher pay in Ravenswood versus other local districts, which previously could be $10,000 to $30,000 per year."
A new teacher will now be paid a starting base salary of about $60,000 and experienced teachers can earn up to $133,950, according to the contract.
On average, a new teacher in the Menlo Park City School District earns $67,459. An experienced teacher's salary caps at $133,788.
In the Las Lomitas Elementary School District, which has one school in Atherton and one in Menlo Park, the base salary for a new teacher is $62,805 and experienced teachers can earn up to $98,730.
In addition to the raise, Ravenswood teachers who completed the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years are receiving a one-time payment of $2,000. Each teacher employed as of May 28, 2021 will receive a one-time payment of $1,827.
The final proposal was ratified with support from 83% of RTA members, according to the press release.
The new compensation system offers the opportunity for teachers who demonstrate mastery of their skills to advance up the salary ladder more rapidly.
"The system is designed to be flexible and fluid, reflecting the growth of unit members throughout the year," Sudaria said in a statement. "It will help us retain high performers — keeping our best teachers in our classrooms year after year. And it will help us recruit for all positions, especially those hardest to fill."
Staff will create portfolios of evidence throughout the year, including professional goals, informal and formal observations, self reflection and other artifacts of practice such as student and family feedback.
The process differentiates between staff who are still developing their skills, and those who have demonstrated strengths and are "integrating and innovating on their craft," according to the press release.
The district last granted teachers and classified staff raises in 2019. The raises included a 2% salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2018, and a 5.5% raise that went into effect July 1, 2019.
The salary increases in 2019 came after two years of budget cuts and discord amongst some teachers and staff who had voiced dissatisfaction with the district's former superintendent, Gloria Hernandez-Goff, who ultimately resigned.
Watch the full board meeting: