The Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) teachers union approved an idea to reallocate a 2 percent one-time salary bonus to the district’s per-student fund in a school board meeting February 27.
The teachers agreed they would be willing to forgo their off-schedule compensation if it would help prevent budget cuts. This decision came after the amount of money designated per student was reduced from $105 to $85 earlier this school year. The $2.2 million total that was originally planned to go the teachers’ salaries will instead be used to increase the per-student allotment to $115 for the next six years, not only restoring the original amount, but increasing it by $10.
“It shows the importance of the students and meeting the needs of the students.”
“This is a way we know we’re preventing cuts,” said Teri Baldwin, president of the Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA).
By giving money back to the school district, the teachers union hopes cuts will not need to be as severe.
In a multi-year contract passed in 2015, the school board planned to give the teachers a bonus if property taxes reached a certain level, which they did this year.
Specific numbers were discussed when writing the 2017-18 school year budget. However, these numbers were different from what was originally discussed for the multi-year plan in 2015. This year’s elevated property taxes covered the off-schedule raise.
“The teachers acknowledge that although the contract language is clear, the budget was built on a much lower projection than what was being discussed when writing the language and were willing to reopen this language in good faith,” Baldwin said.
“It was very amicable and a very good situation”
In a discussion during negotiations between the school board and the teachers union, teachers decided to reconsider where the money went. This came after determining that cuts would need to be made to the per-student fund in hopes of preserving the per-pupil amount.
“It shows the importance of the students and meeting the needs of the students,” said Interim Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Anne Brown.
After communications between site representatives and teachers about the purpose of the money, a majority of teachers union members voted in a poll that was distributed and agreed on relinquishing their bonus in order to prevent, or at least lessen, budget cuts.
“It was very amicable and a very good situation,” Brown said.
Depending on the school, the money may be used for whatever purpose is seen fit. One possible use is to protect classified staff positions.