BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
The Palo Alto school board voted Tuesday (May 14) to give principals and managers the same raises that teachers negotiate — which was evidently a compromise to keep the Palo Alto Management Association from unionizing.
The board approved the agreement unanimously after Vice President Todd Collins denied misrepresenting his position on “me too” policies during his 2016 school board campaign.
“I changed my view. I didn’t do it because I lied or pandered when I ran for office,” Collins said. “I do not go along with something because I’m lazy or like going with the flow.”
Collins said the management association unionizing would have been a “very big negative” for the district.
Collins admitted that he thought “me too” policies were “nuts” when he found out 25 years ago that many high-end law firms and other professional service firms keep employee raises in lockstep with each other.
“I know that this is changing,” Collins said. “I think it’s in the best interest of current and future students.”
Collins said the goal was to solidify the management team “ethos” and that the costs would “end up being about the same.”
Trustee Ken Dauber said the agreement with the management association was a “very good trade for the district” and that the economic implications were “largely a wash.”
He noted that while he is a strong supporter of collective bargaining, he didn’t think the district should be in a collective bargaining relationship with its managers and principals.
School board member Shounak Dharap pointed out that the raises were an attempt to keep up with the rising cost of living, which is particularly severe in the Bay Area.
And Dharap said he would be open to re-evaluating the “me too” agreement in five years, after it expires.
Pay increases for teachers
The board also voted unanimously to approve a 2% raise and a 2% onetime bonus for the teachers’ union. The raises and bonuses for the Palo Alto Educators Association will cost the district $2.4 million per year, plus a one-time cost of $2.4 million for this year’s bonus.
Palo Alto teachers currently make base salaries ranging between $65,093 and $131,343 per year under a salary schedule approved in May 2016.
According to the website Transparent California, 46 Palo Alto teachers made salaries higher than that in 2017, ranging from $131,417 to $183,628. With benefits, 59 teachers made more than $170,000 in 2017.
Possible boost for other workers
Toward the end of the meeting, the board discussed reopening a three-year contract with another group: the California School Employees Association, which represents other workers including janitors and cafeteria workers.
Those employees are slated to get a 2% raise that would cost $812,000 a year and a benefits increase that would cost $230,200 a year. The board has not yet approved that contract.
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