Editorial: The vanishing surplus | May 20, 2016 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - May 20, 2016

Editorial: The vanishing surplus

In opaque process, school trustees opt for large teacher, staff and administrator pay increases over other needs

The Palo Alto school board has spent months in what we now discover were two alternate realities, one taking place behind closed doors and another in public.

This story contains 750 words.

Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.

If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.

Log in     Subscribe


59 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on May 20, 2016 at 8:06 am

The appearance of this who process is that the administrators wanted a pay increase and they are justifying it by giving the teachers and staff a pay increase, and then saying they deserve a raise.

I for one am extremely sick and tire of the administrators, PIE, PTA, and Board of Education using our kids as hostages to extract money from the residents. The total lack of any merit based pay, the sacrificing of class size, and other programs to help better educate our kids is disgusting.

Palo Alto Weekly - you endorsed many of the current Board members; for this election you need to think about your endorsement criteria and figure out why you aren't endorsing more people like Dauber, rather than the others.

41 people like this
Posted by ahem
a resident of Professorville
on May 20, 2016 at 9:24 am

I am really surprised that this editorial does not mention that one board member did not agree with the others on these raises. As the news stories have said, Ken Dauber has been forthright and courageous in alerting this newspaper and the community to the issues with this raise. Yet this editorial merely speaks about the "board" as if there is no dissent within the board and as if all board members are equally ill-behaved. In fact, Dauber has been uniquely transparent, honest, and clear about his views. He has showed real independence, clarity and focus, I do not remember ever seeing a board member prepare his own slides to present a minority view against a contract. It has probably never happened in PAUSD history. Yet you just condemn "the board" for the lack of transparency. It's an oversight. You should correct the record.

The editorial is not accurate in the way it just lumps in the dissenting and transparent voice on the board with the majority.

42 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 20, 2016 at 10:13 am

And don't forget, Dr. McGee suggested waiving the two meeting rule on this! Release a three-year all-staff contract on a Friday afternoon, vote it in the next Tuesday. The Board members all seemed to disavow, but it is a little hard to believe that Dr. McGee would propose without checking in with at least a couple of board members and receiving some encouragement.

The process needs to change. The staff contracts are the biggest expense items by far, but there is no opportunity for public input until the contracts are already fully negotiated and ratified by the union.

But the odd show of talking about big investments (Caswell urging McGee to think of "investing millions" in innovation programs), while in fact there was never meaningful money to spend - sometimes it is hard to understand what the board is thinking.

53 people like this
Posted by Time to reconsider
a resident of College Terrace
on May 20, 2016 at 10:48 am

The board is voting on this deal on Tuesday. They could and should reopen negotiations and scale back the raises to 9% over 3 years rather than 12%. School board members: why is 12% necessary at the cost of high class sizes? If you can't answer that question, you should vote with Dauber.

23 people like this
Posted by juan olive
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 20, 2016 at 10:59 am

I don't have school aged children, so I can't really speak about this, but money helps to make life easier for everyone. When you have a surplus and it is being squandered, as in this case (My opinion) you can either do something about it. OR NOT. Talk is cheap, action is what gets results.

48 people like this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Barron Park
on May 20, 2016 at 11:05 am

Marc Vincenti is a registered user.

Friday morning, May 19th

As ever, all thanks to the Weekly for remaining vigilant.

And all thanks to board member Ken Dauber for remaining sensible, staunch, and independent.

He's right. We could have both: a healthy salary increase for our faculty, and at the same time a healthy reduction in class sizes.

Classes of a friendlier size are not only indispensable to the social and emotional well-being of our kids. They're not only one of the best things we can do for our high-schoolers' mental health.

In addition, they would greatly improve working conditions for our faculty.

According to District records, last semester at Gunn and Paly, 780 classes had 25 or more teenagers in the room together. And no fewer than 407 classes had 30 or more teenagers in one room together. Some teachers have loads of 125-150 teenagers all at one time.

If you're a teenager amid such overcrowding, just try to get your hand called on, your homework returned quickly (and with rich, tailored feedback), your grade reconsidered, your essay read closely, a one-on-one conference during class or at brunch or at lunch--not to mention an empathic look from your teacher that says, "Geez, I can see you're having a bad day."

(A look that may be the only really good thing that happens for you that day.)

The Board and Superintendent should be acting more responsibly with our money--as Ken Dauber is wisely pointing out, and as the Weekly has perceptively noted here.


Marc Vincenti
Gunn English Dept. (1995-2010)
Campaign Coordinator, Save the 2,008

P.S. To support class-size reduction, check out savethe2008.com. It's our number one proposal.

18 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 20, 2016 at 11:27 am

California education is ranked number 45 in the nation (depending on the source). While our schools here fare better than that ranking, throwing more money at administrative staff and faculty won't solve the problem. Liberal progressives and teachers unions have ruined what used to be the top rated state in the nation to get a public education. There is no denying this fact.

62 people like this
Posted by Furious
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 20, 2016 at 11:49 am

Furious is a registered user.

I agree with resident, above, that PAUSD holds are children hostage in order to get what they want. They are not above stooping to [portion removed] either ( give us sumptuous raises or we will increase class sizes...give us what we want or we'll cut this, that, and the other).

Other districts do this as well, and as always, the administrators and superintendent get most of the money. Max McGee already makes more money than most residents, many of the teachers make just as much as most of the residents.

I highly doubt that anyone gets raises as large or as frequently as PAUSD; most certainly less than a handful of residents get such raises! And they wonder why there is resentment?

All of this baloney is especially egregious here in Palo Alto. Parents are asked to donate thousands of dollars per student twice a year, Measure A should begin to provide loads of extra money, our property taxes are some of the highest in the state; is it any wonder that residents, especially parents, feel violated by PAUSD???

36 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Terman Middle School
on May 20, 2016 at 12:21 pm

I understand why the board did not support Ken Dauber's suggestions... but it makes no sense to me why the board did not support Ken Dauber's ideas given the issues in the school district over the past few years and the priorities that these would seem to clearly imply. Ken's suggestions provide a healthy salary increase for our teachers and at the same time a vital decrease in class sizes. Many of our teachers are doing a great job and should be rewarded for this with reasonable pay rises. Ken's suggestions seem to provide a balanced use of these funds. Smaller class sizes are have been shown in many studies to improve the effectiveness of teaching and provide an environment where students do not get lost. Smaller class sizes will give our high school leaders a better ability to balance teaching based on student ability. Smaller class sizes will also allow our teachers a better ability to work one on one with more students. The job of the school board is to provide a balance between the needs of our teachers and our students. Clearly given this decision the school board shows that it does not support smaller class sizes and the many benefits that this would bring to our students. As a parent, taxpayer and long time PIE donator I am very disappointed in this decision. The school board needs to re-consider this decision.

Additionally with unexpected surpluses like this the sensible thing to do it to put some of the money aside to deal with unexpected bumps in the road that will come. Planning for this by putting some of this money to the side will help to prevent layoffs and a downgrade in service when the economy does head downward for a few years at some time in the near future. There is no guarantee that revenue will continue to go up and we should take measures to ensure that the improvements we make are sustainable.

23 people like this
Posted by StrategicZeros
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 20, 2016 at 2:28 pm

What is fascinating is how completely at odds the raise is, compared to the districts published, publicly reviewed plan:

Web Link

A plan that board members like Ms Caswell and Ms Townsend had a strong hand in formulating. This knee-jerk raise shows they have no strategic skill at all, OR they were just jerking us around with the whole strategy waste of time all along.

They should immediately re-draft the plan to place students at the periphery of their "new" direction

25 people like this
Posted by Can anything be done to stop this?
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 20, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Is there ANYTHING - that taxpayers, parents, students, etc can do about this? Ranting on this website and voting in the fall are both fine and cathartic, but probably not effective.

25 people like this
Posted by Explanation please
a resident of Professorville
on May 20, 2016 at 4:27 pm

I hope that the other school board trustees who are supporting these large raises are planning to explain why they are necessary. When I look at how Palo Alto stacks up against other districts (at the top) I don't see how it is right to make students have larger classes so that teachers can have an even bigger raise. Really I don't even see how it is right for teachers. Who wants to teach classes with over 30 students?

25 people like this
Posted by We can have our pie and eat it too
a resident of Downtown North
on May 20, 2016 at 5:47 pm

We got this, no problem. All we need to do is increase our PIE ask from $1,000 per student to $2,000 per student. Problem solved. Now we can have the windfall raises and all the pretty things we were promised this year including reduced class sizes, increased Small Learning Community and TEAM slots at the high schools, more reading specialists, improved kindergarten, and funding for high school athletic programs.

23 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 20, 2016 at 8:57 pm

This is what the almost $800 parcel tax pays for? I realize that many in Palo Alto earn more than teachers, but the salary cited for veteran teachers certainly exceeds many residents, most of whom work more than 9 months out of the year We were mislead in the campaign to raise the tax.

6 people like this
Posted by Money talks
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 20, 2016 at 10:16 pm

Believe it or not, Palo Alto is not as high performing as all the parents like to think. Look at the data and you will find that the top performing schools in math and reading (New Jersey, Mass) are spending more than 20k per student, to PA's 12k. Fact is, the district is still playing on the cheap even if the raises are passed.

13 people like this
Posted by We are Bell, CA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 20, 2016 at 10:31 pm

Money as a measure of education is overrated. Besides, schools back East have a whole slew of expenses we don't: massive heating bills, school buses, cafeterias where kids actually sit down to eat protected from the elements, snow removal, school buses, higher maintenance, etc.

The administrators at 25 Churchill just take the cake (and everything else). I wish the reporter would please give us some hard facts about thise admin raises. How much is that costing, what does administration cost in Palo Alto, what are we getting for that, and what is it costing our kids? There is no earthly reason to tie admin raises to teacher pay, especially when they already make so much more than teachers. (Poor business practice.)

@Can anything be done
Look up recent comments about revising the city charter. There is also the possibility of reorganizing the district - I'm not sure contracts like that have to be honored. But you asked can something be done - sure. Will you do it? Don't count on anyone else.

3 people like this
Posted by sort your own house out
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2016 at 10:17 am

he problem is there is no will to reduce the class sizes. The average math class size in middle school meets the required standard but there is no will in the schools to spread the load to meet that requirement.

When the recent middle school issue was raised the responses were:

- They want to keep next year's eighth grade classes at 29 or fewer students, which is an improvement on the classes with 33 but nowhere near the require 24
- The reason they can't get to 24 is they want to preserve the "pure team" so all teaches have the same free period

What is most annoying about this is that they don't need more money to reach the size objective. In Math, they have some classes with 17 students and others over 30 students. The only reason they can't get to 24 is this abstract "pure team" concept and lack of will from the school and administration.

Sure you can get around this by hiring more teachers though Max has explicitly ruled that out. However, I'm on Max's side in this. Unless we can get the schools to sort out their complete mismatch between class sizes, we're just throwing more money at the problem.

The editorial misses the point by focusing on a solution without fully understanding the problem. The district needs to start focusing on the problem they can solve now if they have the will.

14 people like this
Posted by Parents Unionize!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2016 at 6:24 am

What can we do? I am happy to do something about this rather than post my frustration on this online forum. JLS is without a principal, there is bullying there, class sizes are huge. And teachers want a raise? Please if someone has any concrete suggestion, post here on the forum so we as parents can take collective action to make this more rational before Tuesday. I am not spending on PiE this year if teachers get a raise and parents have to pay for staff, aides etc because the district blew up the surlpus. Shame on the board for putting teachers above students.

23 people like this
Posted by angry parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2016 at 9:19 am

If you have not seen it, I commend the interview with Dauber and Heidi Emberling that was conducted on video with Bill Johnson and Elena Kadvany on "Behind the Headlines" that is an excellent exploration of this issue. Here's the full interview: Web Link

It's long, however, so I want to call out some highlights.

Emberling was asked why she supports such a large raise (12%) rather than Dauber's proposed 9% that would allow the district to hire 35 new teachers and reduce class sizes to district targets. Dauber pointed out that the district is already the highest paid k-12 unified district with more than 3500 students (out of hundreds) in the entire State. Emberling said that she believes that the district should be offering "fabulous compensation packages" to make Palo Alto a "destination district."

Watch: Web Link

Dauber pointed out that the district is not currently meeting its class size targets in the high schools and that problem will be worse when the so-called "bubble classes" currently in middle school make it to the high schools in a few years. When Johnson pressed Heidi on why she was not supporting Dauber's plan to hire 35 teachers in light of these facts, she said that her plan for addressing class size is to wait until the slightly smaller classes now in kindergarten and first grade make it to high school. According to Emberling, that will reduce class sizes. 10 years from now.

This is an extremely revelatory interchange between Johnson and Emberling in which he draws from her the stunning admission that her entire plan is to allow the so-called "bubble classes" (now in middle school) to simply have larger class sizes until the issue naturally resolves (possibly) a decade from now. Until then, she plans to continue to in her own words "put teachers first."

That is actually her plan. Watch it here: Watch: Web Link

Watch all the way through this exchange until it ends around 19:26. It is an incredibly enlightening 90 seconds of film. [Portion removed.]

For everyone who attends Gunn and Paly for the next 10 years, Emberling feels that we need to be a "destination district" for teachers (though apparently not for parents, judging by the record applications to area private schools).

And how are teachers reacting to Emberling's "strategy"? Unadulterated glee. Johnson (this is really a great interview, Johnson, hat's off!) asks her "so what kind of feedback are you personally getting from teachers, and with a far-away look of rapture and a thrilled little smile, Emberling recounts her many grateful emails from the teachers who complimented her and the board majority for "putting teachers first." Johnson probably should have asked Dauber what kind of emails he is getting from parents. I have a feeling his mailbag looks a bit different.

Watch it here: Watch: Web Link

24 people like this
Posted by Jordan dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 22, 2016 at 10:44 am

So the plan for my son who has had huge 7th grade classes this year at Jordan, is to have huge classes at Paly too! Thanks, school board!

Why am I writing those big checks to Pie and property taxes again?

11 people like this
Posted by Parents Unionize!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2016 at 11:00 am

Thank you for posting the link. The sheer smugness of Emberling! Bubble classes are not in middle school they are still in fourth grade now so the problem is not going away any time soon. Teachers get paid extra at elementary schools to take on another kid. Class sizes in elementary schools in upper grades are closer to 26 not 23. I heard from another parent that Paly is at capacity and cannot take any new enrollment from a family that moves in. They will be overflowed to Gunn. Not sure why everyone is deifying teachers. I am not against teachers, I am a teacher myself, but somehow the notion that teachers are suffering, are getting shortchanged, has been thrown down our conscience under the assumption that all Palo Alto parents have endless amounts of start up money and will cough up whatever PiE or the PTA or the district asks. There is a serious shortage of substitute teachers in the district. Some of the folks that sub in elementary schools are downright horrible; go talk to the kids about subs that swear to shame elementary kids that pick their noses by putting their pictures on the smart board. Quality folks do not sign up to sub because the pay rate there is horrible. And so the district hires whoever meets the requirements to sub. I am saying no to another measure or another donation that anyone from the district asks of me!

20 people like this
Posted by angry parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2016 at 11:06 am

@jordan dad, @parents unionize, and others:

I have heard that teachers plan to come to the board meeting and take up the entire meeting presenting why they think that this money should be given to them instead of to hire more teachers. If you are serious about wanting to do more than anonymously post here, if you want to support Dauber, then come to the meeting. This is the first item on the agenda. Here are some helpful suggestions for things to say:

1. Class sizes are demonstrated to be larger than parents were promised and it is going to get worse as larger classes hit the high schools starting in 2017-18. The board should care about that more than giving "fabulous compensation" to teachers. The board can give a nice raise at 9% and still not be derelict in its duty to parents and students.

2. Measure A promised the community reduced class sizes. That was just fraudulent in light of these raises. The board and superintendent are accountable for that fraud on the taxpayers.

3. Board President Emberling saying (on video, see above) that she plans to do nothing to address the larger class sizes of the bubble but just will expect it to solve itself later, literally abandoning 5 classes of students to very very large class sizes is an absolute outrage. Pledge to vote against her, to support her opponents, and to ensure that she is defeated for re-election in November. Same with Caswell, should she decided to run for a third term. She promised millions for innovative programs, then bait and switched and handed all the surplus to the teachers union. She should not run again and if she runs, should be defeated.

4. Demand that the board return to bargaining with the union and address class sizes as well as raises. We want our teachers to be fairly compensated but we are not interested in providing a "destination district" for teachers while students are given the short end of the stick.

This is a defining moment for our community and our schools. We have a brave board member who has stuck his neck out to put students first. If you go along silently with this decision you will be ensuring that PAUSD experiences financial cutbacks which will probably lead to even larger class sizes than we currently have.

The real mystery to me is Terry Godfrey. Godfrey owed the community better than a go-along-get-along decision here. She has experience in HR and in finance. She can read a balance sheet and if she put the time into looking at this carefully she should understand that once these dollars are gone they are gone. The district is giving up the chance to address class sizes for a decade and possibly forever. I really expected better from Terry. I hope she thinks carefully about this decision because it is very consequential, cannot be undone later, and will lead to years of worse social-emotional outcomes for students.

Maybe the board should take a step back from the abyss and defer this decision until they have a chance to think about it more. They are really hurting students and for what? For some thank you cards from Terri Baldwin? For the endorsement of the unions during the election? From where I sit that endorsement of the union is going to be the kiss of death on November once people really realize the fraud that was Measure A.

There is no excuse and anyone voting for this should go down to electoral defeat. Show up and say it.

22 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 22, 2016 at 11:10 am

That video interview with Emberling and Dauber is excellent - more informative than a year of school board meetings.

Yes, Heidi does say that her plan for class size reduction is "wait 10 years." Wow. And the bubble classes (which are now in 5-8 grades) will just have larger class sizes till then.

Yes, she does say the teachers appreciate the board "putting teachers first."
We can't put teachers last, that's correct, but we have to put students first each and every time.

12 people like this
Posted by Not pleased
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2016 at 12:41 pm

To The Community

Is their a legal process for the removal of school board members and the superintendent?

They should resign.

13 people like this
Posted by Not pleased
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Thank you Ken Dauber for being a voice of reason.

9 people like this
Posted by We are Bell, CA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2016 at 1:18 pm

@Not pleased,
There are provisions for the recall of board members. Use google or talk to th City clerk.

Far better would be to give citizens the power to stop individual actions, by adding that power in the city charter, per the following post on another thread:

"The most drastic way to get off this road is force a reorganization of the district, for example to a nonunified school district. Or unify with Los Altos Hills. Then it would be legally possible to do all kinds of things like reduce salaries, dump excess administrators, etc. Web Link

"The way to make that happen is to create powers for citizens through a city charter amendment. Our city charter is what establishes the board and superintendent positions, and establishes what rules and powers they have. That can all be changed. A power equivalent to citizen referendum for enacted board policies and initiative could be instituted. [Note this does not require reorganization but could enable it.] Then there is a clear path to reject bad policies, which has the effect of getting administrators to check themselves." [Usually requires actually taking them to task first at least once.]

Of course, charter amendment could be used for direct reform, but success is more likely if there are examples around the state of others doing so first. Does anyone have any idea how many of California charter cities establish school districts through their charters - or, is there an online repositry of California city charters? (If not, shouldn't there be!)

16 people like this
Posted by More than angry
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 22, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Measure A

Was it Bait and Switch?

The school district and the board beat the drum yet again for another Parcel Tax so they could do whatever they wanted to.

3 people like this
Posted by Salaries+Special Education+Law Firms
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 22, 2016 at 5:45 pm

What is uncomfortable is the salaries of two of the highest paid administrators in PAUSD. Autrey was hired last year. Holly Wade was promoted last year. Both were offered high salaries, which they accepted. We are now saying they retroactively get a 5% increase over the salaries they agreed to. Retroactively? Were they hired with an understanding they were being offered one salary, but their real salaries for the year would become far higher, in the area of $10,000 higher? There has to be a limit to the benefits and protections a Superintendent gives the people he hires. It would be more comfortable if the reorganization had been more open, if jobs had been posted for more than a week and not limited to only current employees and current contractors, if there had been a real competition for jobs. Instead it looks like the insiders who were promoted planned it all along. It would be more comfortable if the reorganizaiton were not done after the school year was out, so that parents saw what was happening.

Also uncomfortable is the way the Special Education Review is handled, especially the parent survey. The Evaluator was chosen by Holly Wade with no competition as part of her internal promotion. She choose who would evaluate her own work. The survey Web Link asks loaded questions, like if parents are satisfied with District Special Education communication. That would be fine, but it lumps together information parents seek out from other parents and volunteer groups. When families rate the quality of any information received, they have to rate all sources the same. It is not possible for families to respond separately about different unrelated sources of information. So if parents try to say the qualify of District information is poor, they are also saying information from volunteer groups and other parents is poor. It reads like a set up to attack parent groups like the CAC again, as Heidi Emberling did when she blocked them from giving any input to the Board while approving the near secret quickie promotion of Holly Wade. Wade could get huge retroactive raises rewarding choosing her own elevator and concluding parent and volunteers are not satisfying sources of information. This is happening after the parent data analysis that class sizes are really much larger than the District portrays because, in part, of including Special Education classes or services (which are not as small as the District tells parents either) to lower the class size is concerning. It is very difficult to know if the data given to the Evaluator for analysis is accurate. The entire time our child was in Special Education, no test result or data ever showed our child was given extra help on State tests, providing the illusion of academic success that really wasn't there.

At the same meeting, the District recommends the Board vote to pump legal fees up to $515,000, most of which has gone to Special Education in the past. They Board will also vote to give the money to a new law firm, which Holly Wade got to vote on, even though she ran up the legal bills in the past.

At the time of the reorganization, the public was promised if they just let the promotions go through, the District would hiring an Attorney as an employee of the District (who would not report to Wade) and hold a 90 day review after that Attorney was hired to evaluate the legal firm's work, giving the public a chance to report issues. That never happened. That is all gone now.

12 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2016 at 7:47 pm

The video interview of Heidi Emberling & Dauber was very illuminating:

Heidi says one of the reasons that she feels the salary increases are justified is that she knows of a teacher who lives in Capitola.

Bill Johnson asks her if about data on how far teachers live? Heidi answers that the data is not available.

Is Heidi clueless? How about Heidi asking those highly paid administrators who are wanting a raise to get the information? How about Heidi asking those administrators what is the age demographic of the employees?

How about Heidi asking how many administrators are nearing retirement age in the next 5 years, and what this does to their retirement benefits, and how much additional liabilities it is creating for the district?

Heidi, Melissa, Terry, and Camille are about to cripple the school district 5 - 10 years from now.

5 people like this
Posted by District insider
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 22, 2016 at 7:57 pm

It's anecdotes all the way down. It's always been that way. I'm sure the folks in the DO are stunned that Dauber is bringing data. I couldn't see Scott's face at the board meeting but I'm sure it didn't feel good to be taken to school by a board member. It won't matter though. There are four solid votes for the full raises.

14 people like this
Posted by #puttingstudentsfirst
a resident of College Terrace
on May 22, 2016 at 8:09 pm

Unless the taxpayers come to the board meeting and raise Cain I am afraid you are correct. But I think that if the public attends and demands that the board consider Daubers 3-3-3 plan it could happen. Email Heidi and Melissa and tell them that you will not vote for them and will actively work to defeat them. This is a democracy. Use your vote and your voice. Don't just post here. Don't let Ken Dauber stand alone. He's standing up for you and for your students. Do you want to leave him standing alone or will you stand with Ken to put students first?

8 people like this
Posted by Kate
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2016 at 10:03 pm

If this is going down because HE knows of a teacher who lives in Capitola, this is pathetic. Somehow, a district teacher was interviewed on NPR about the cost of living (Web Link) and the teacher told about having to live in Capitola. Maybe it's a generational thing, but when I was younger and couldn't afford to live where I worked, I had roommates until I could afford to live where I wanted. Not to malign the teacher's choices, but if this anecdote is informing HE's vote, oh boy, so lame.

2 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2016 at 10:27 pm

Can someone please ask the school board if they ever directed the district to bring up reducing class size in negotiations?

The school district was allowed reopeners. Was class size one of the reopeners the district asked to negotiate on? If not, then they can't try to negotiate it after the fact.

3 people like this
Posted by We are Bell, CA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2016 at 7:42 am

@#putting students first,
Go ahead and raise Cain at board meetings. The most it will do is get a story in the paper. Just remember, Measure A seems to have given Max the idea that the paper is irrelevant. Regardless, the district power structure is set up so that the district leadership may act with complete insularity. Volunteer energy is precious. Do you want to waste it by just complaining for no good end, demoralizing parents yet again, or do you want to also put together a plan of actions that will succeed in creating real checks and balances forever, and piggyback on any rallying? That will take commitment and work, but will prevent this from ever happening again.

3 people like this
Posted by We are Bell, CA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2016 at 7:53 am

@angry parent,
Right now, there are no seats in contention in the next election, because hardly anyone has signed up to run. Heidi Emberlong's tenure is a shoe in. The only way to stop it is to wage a recall. But then, you have to have a replacement ready.

The only way to prevent this sort of thing in the future is to change the city charter so the public can address specific abuses.

2 people like this
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Portola Valley
on May 23, 2016 at 10:19 am

Put your kids in Private school. Then you can chose how your kids are educated and live anywhere you want with out the noise pollution or the extreme mortgage payment, taxes, etc of Palo Alto.

8 people like this
Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 23, 2016 at 10:39 am

Neighbors - we're in reruns.

We heard all this stuff a decade or so ago when my child was a student in the PAUSD.

And I suspect we were in reruns then too.

We'll always vote in tax increases for the schools, contribute to PiE, and it will never be enough.

But so long as we have enough school administrators receiving excellent wages, benefits, and pensions...

7 people like this
Posted by We are Bell, CA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Moral of the story folks: Never approve an ask for money unless whomever is asking spells out exactly where the money will go, and exactly what will happen if they weasel out of honoring the promise. The district trotted out all kinds of scare tactics, including our children's mental health, all while they were hammering out this giveaway of the money.

We all support schools, emergency services, housing for veterans and seniors and low-income people. But it does no one any good if people get tapped out and those things aren't really supported in the way the ask promises. The district said nothing about the tax going to raising salaries - given the year-long negotiation, the only conclusion is that they either lied when they said they would have to lay off 80 teachers if they did not get the money, or they are utterly incompetent (in which case, why do they deserve the same raise as the teachers?)

Where is George Jacquette or whatever is name is, who was so vociferous and ad hominem toward anyone who thought Measure A campaign literature was suspect? Can we please have a statement for the so-called "oversight" committee? What power do they have to ensure the funds go to do what we were promised?

Look at what we got for our other Measure A that was supposed to give us new facilities - a face lift and a few buildings scattered around the district, that could probably have been had for a third of that.

Next time, for the sake of all of the things you care about, consider voting NO unless the legislators make solid promises of very specific needs for the funds. In the end, voting NO for a bad ask is better for what you care about - politicians will have no problem asking again, that's been true forever. I used to vote for any funding ask I cared about, even when the cost was a burden on our household. Not anymore. A good tax or funding request must be specific and enforceable, or I will vote NO. I hope other people consider the same.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2016 at 2:45 pm

[Post removed; off topic.]

2 people like this
Posted by Take action!
a resident of Midtown
on May 23, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Someone above asked if anything can be done to stop this. Please email the PAUSD board members and let them know where you stand with regards to the proposed raises. On this web page there are pictures of all the board with buttons to contact them via email: Web Link

I have emailed them all several days back to let them know I consider the proposed raises fiscally irresponsible.

After fiascos like measure A passing and this follow up of most of the budget surplus going to teachers pockets, I will never give another dime to PIE!

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


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.


Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

Contest Details