News

Palo Alto teachers get 4% raise in tentative pact

Raise and bonus come atop 3% raise last year

Palo Alto teachers this year will get a 4% raise along with a onetime bonus of 2% under a tentative collective-bargaining agreement between the Palo Alto Unified School District and the Palo Alto Educators Association.

The raise comes atop a 3% salary boost and 1.5% bonus given last year -- the first raise since 2007-08.

"The district appreciates the continued excellence and professionalism demonstrated by our staff despite recent difficult years," Superintendent Kevin Skelly said in a Wednesday statement announcing the proposed agreement, which is subject to union ratification and approval by the Board of Education.

"We are fortunate to continue working cooperatively and productively with our employee groups on our common goals."

Teachers agreed to absorb 75% of this year's increase in health care costs, which amounted to more than $1 million for calendar year 2014, the district said.

The raise announced Wednesday would boost the pay of a beginning teacher from the current $53,000 to about $55,000. Additional costs to the school district include some $13,000 in health benefits and 12.5% contributions to the California State Teachers Retirement System.

Palo Alto's average teacher salary of $85,721 (before last year's raise) ranked fifth among averages in nine nearby school districts, according to a comparison published in February by EdData, which publishes fiscal, demographic and performance data about California's K-12 public schools.

Salaries and benefits consume about 84% of the district's operating budget. Wednesday's announcement contained no information on raises for non-teaching staff or management, but raises for those groups typically has tracked those of teachers.

Property tax revenues, which account for 72% of the Palo Alto district's operating budget, are projected to grow more than 6% in the current year. But since the district is not compensated on a per pupil basis, officials continually worry that enrollment growth could exceed property tax growth, pushing down per-pupil revenue. This fall, however, K-12 enrollment grew by less than 1%, to 12,483.

Chris Kenrick

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