Pay raise proposed for Palo Alto school superintendent

Don Austin
Don Austin

By the Daily Post staff

Palo Alto school Superintendent Don Austin, who is about to complete his first year on the job, is up for a $9,000 a year raise at tomorrow’s school board meeting.

If approved by the board, his annual pay would go up by 3% to $309,000 a year, and his original three-year contract would be extended by a year to June 30, 2022.

The 3% raise is in line with the percentage increases the board is giving to other top administrators.

The memo to the school board from General Counsel Komey Vishakan recommending the raise didn’t mention any benchmarks or performance measures for the superintendent. Instead, his raise was described as a movement from Step 1 to Step 2 on the salary schedule for a superintendent.

Austin was hired in May 2018 to replace Max McGee. Austin came to Palo Alto from the Palos Verdes school district in Los Angeles County.

Under his employment contract, he lives a three-bedroom townhouse the district owns, and he pays the district $1,800 a month in rent. If he chooses to move out of the townhouse, his salary would increase by $25,000.


  1. No performance benchmarks. Essentially, everyone gets a raise if the district doesn’t implode and they’re still breathing at the end of the year.

  2. The board ought to have performance goals for the superintendent that are publicly known, and when a raise like this happens, they should tell us what goals he met, if any. That’s how its done in the business world.

  3. They should have compensation penalties for every lawsuit and step level penalties for complaint. For example, for every 100 complaints a $10,000 hit and a 10% of all legal fees they spend against students and parents hit. That might make compliance and negligence of special education, bullying, and otherwise lousy and out of comcpliance staff more accountable finally.

  4. Give the teachers a raise first!

    This is a school district not a for profit corporation!

    $300k and he wants a raise? The greeed!!#

  5. Agree with the comment here.
    Why do bureaucrats always get the big checks while the people doing the real work are getting the short shrift.
    This is less of an issue in Palo Alto where teachers make an ok salary but in most school districts in this country we’ve failed our teachers

  6. city should shop around, they can find someone for cheaper. look at the rental benefit alone, that is about $3000 after tax benefit. enough to pay a full time teacher.

    a good goal for a raise would be to reduce the administrative overhead by %10.

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