UPDATED: Teachers to get a 5% raise this summer and 5% next summer

This version of the story includes the cost of the raises to the school district.

By the Daily Post staff

The teachers union and Palo Alto school district administrators have reached a two-year agreement on compensation that will raise pay by 5% starting this summer and another 5% for the 2021-22 school year.

The raise consists of a 3% permanent increase and a 2% one-time-only bonus each year. The bonus won’t be used as part of the base for computing raises in future years.

The district’s 800 teachers make between $66,395 and $133,972 annually, according to the union’s contract.

The tentative agreement reached last night requires ratification by the teachers and the school board.

Superintendent Don Austin said in a statement that the bargaining teams participated in multiple negotiating sessions throughout March and April prior to reaching a tentative agreement at 8:20 p.m. on Thursday.

For 2020-21, teachers will receive:

• a 3% increase to the salary schedule effective July 1, 2020;

• a one-time, off-the-schedule payment equal to 2%;

• and an increased employer contribution to the cost of “health and welfare benefits,” equivalent to an additional .26% salary increase.

For 2021-22, teachers will receive:

• a 3% increase to the salary schedule effective July 1, 2021;

• and a one-time, off the schedule payment equal to 2%.

In addition, for the 2022 calendar year (Jan. 1-Dec. 31), the district shall contribute toward health and welfare benefits an additional amount that provides unit members with the same dependent contributions as the 2021 calendar year.

What will this cost?

According to figures from Chief Budget Officer Carolyn Chow, the cost to the district teacher raise of 3% for 2020-21 is estimated at $3,667,123. The cost to the district for the ongoing 3% in 2021-22 is $3,733,160. The total annual cost for the 6% ongoing salary increase is approximately $7,529,824.

Chow said the cost of the 2% bonus or “off schedule payment” for teachers for year beginning July 1 is $2,444,749. For 2021-22, it is estimated at $2,488,773.


6% over two years $7,529,824
2% bonus starting 7/1/21 $2,444,749
2% bonus starting 7/1/22 $2,488,773
TOTAL $12,463,346


Going back a couple of years, the teachers received a 2% raise and a 2% one-time bonus for the 2018-19 school year.

In 2016, the district and teachers approved a contract that called for a 12% raise over three years. After that contact was approved, district officials realized they overestimated property tax revenue, leading to a financial crisis.

The school board decided to reopen contract negotiations and walk back the 3% raise and 1% to 2% bonus, but the district’s then-HR chief, Scott Bowers, missed the deadline to do so in March 2017.

After the inadvertent raise made the news in the summer of 2017, board members said it would jeopardize the possibility of future raises. In February 2018, the union gave back the 2% bonus, but kept the 3% raise.

The current contract expires at the end of June. The new contract, if approved by the school board and ratified by the teachers, will start July 1 and run through June 30, 2023.

The district still needs to negotiate deals with the non-teaching classified and management employee groups.



  1. There’s no context in this article helping the community understand 1) the reason for the raise, 2) is this the same/more/less than past raises, 3) is there a traditional schedule for renegotiating salaries/benefits and is this in keeping with that timeline. Please give readers the facts they need to read a story in context and use critical thinking to make their own judgements.

    • I don’t think they’re ever going to come out and give the real reason for a pay increase. You’ll get get a boiler plate statement like, “They earned it” or “It was in the best interest of everyone.” But I think the level of the teachers cooperation during the pandemic was very high, and schools reopened sooner here than in other places. That probably was a reason for it, even if they don’t say so. And as the article points out, it’s a bigger raise than in year’s past. As for the negotiating schedule, the bargaining starts before the current contract expires. I think this contract ends in June.

  2. This is the biggest raise the teachers have received in several years and I’ve got to wonder if it is in return for the union’s flexibility when it came to reopening schools back in October. Our teachers were brave to return to in-person teaching even when their colleagues in other districts demanded to stay home. In my opinion they deserve a generous contract.

    • How exactly were they brave for teaching around a virus with a lower mortality rate than the flu for people under 60 years old? Were they brave all those years they taught during influenza season, Covid-17, Covid-15, Swine Flu, Bird flu – all viruses that did not accompany anywhere near the level of media hysteria and government fear-mongering of this corona virus – without masks, social distancing or other unproven government measures?

    • If ‘bravery’ deserves extra compensation then it should be just for number of months that they returned early – not two years. It should be a bonus not an increase to base pay. Agree with others that the only context provided for why any increase is warranted is that the teachers want more and the city caved. At a minimum it should be tied to inflation which has been much lower than the amounts proposed. It would be VERY hard for any teacher to argue that they delivered a better school year for the students. The school board should also, absolutely, and firmly demand transparency for parents to protect their children against critical race theory (and other popular delusions) before signing off on any increases.

  3. You wouldn’t know that we’re in a recession! Very generous —— with other people’s $$$.

  4. I’m worried that this may be too lavish of an increase, and that the district might have to take it back, again. A few years ago, after approving a big pay increase, they had to go to the teachers to ask for concessions. I think it would have been better to hold off on this raise until the property tax picture is clear. I appreciate the desire to reward our hard-working teachers, and I agree with it. But this looks to be to be a giant roll of the dice.

  5. I don’t think this is anything to worry about. $6 million (that’s the amount in 21-22) out of a ~ $262 million budget (exact amount TBD), is 3%. It’s a small price to pay for a very professional workforce.

  6. The state Dept. of Education’s website (http://www.ed-data.org/district/Santa-Clara/Palo-Alto-Unified) says the average teacher salary in PAUSD was $114,644 in the 2019-20 school year. Divide that by 187 work days in a year, and it’s $613 a day. Assuming a teacher works eight hours (and I know there will be some debate about that), his or her hourly rate would be $76.63. This raise represents a $7.66 an hour increase to $84.29 an hour. I don’t want to hear anybody ever say again that teachers are underpaid.

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