Pay raises ahead for high school teachers

School board approves 5 percent salary bump for all employees

For years, the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District has been home to some of the most well-compensated teachers in the entire state. And it looks like that trend is going to continue, after recent contract negotiations yielded a new contract with a sizable pay increase for all district staff.

After little discussion, the school board unanimously approved the newly negotiated contract terms with both teaching staff and classified employees, giving both groups a 5 percent salary increase for 2015-16, as well as one-time pay increase of 1.75 percent. The pay raise is retroactive to July 1, 2015.

In an email to teachers, Associate Superintendent Eric Goddard said the contract shows that the district continues to be "forward thinking" in its effort to provide the best possible education to students, and acknowledges all the hard work that teachers put into the profession.

"As we inch toward the conclusion of the school year we would like to recognize your efforts in making MVLA the special place it is for all," Goddard wrote. "Please know that all of you are much appreciated."

The salary schedule now ranges from $74,858 to a maximum of $141,451 after 28 years of service, with additional stipends available for advanced college degrees. According to salary and benefit data collected by the California Department of Education, the district paid an average annual salary of nearly $114,000 during the 2014-15 school year, the highest of any school district in the state. This has been a lasting trend going back about a decade, when the district eclipsed the average pay of then-highest Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District.

Superintendent Jeff Harding said the negotiations, which started in November, have gone very well, and that there's a strong relationship between the administrative team and both the certified teachers and classified employees. That relationship, he said, along with the high compensation, has helped to keep teacher turnover low.

"We've had extremely low numbers of retirees as well," Harding said. "It's a very stable workforce here."

The pay increases will cost the district about $2.2 million for the 2015-16 year, and just shy of $1.7 million for every subsequent year. Despite the rising cost of teacher salaries and contributions to the state's pension fund, Harding said the district can handle the increased burden because of the recent double-digit growth in local property tax revenue.

District Teachers' Association President Michelle Bissonnette declined a request for comment.

Aside from the pay increase, Harding said the district will be setting up a committee of administrators and teachers to keep the district's teaching staff engaged as they go through their careers, and make sure they can continue to develop their "craft."

"We want these teachers to start their career here and end their career year, and keep developing as they progress," Harding said.

Both elementary school districts in Mountain View, the Los Altos School District and the Mountain View Whisman School District, are currently in closed session negotiations with their teachers union representatives to hash out contracts and pay increases.

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9 people like this
Posted by Pay Up and Up
a resident of Bailey Park
on May 9, 2016 at 1:39 am

Most residents have no children and never will. Many parents send their kids to private schools. Some try home schooling. In general, the worse students go to the public high schools. Those students are a huge psychological burden on their parents. So, to be fair, residents who do not have that burden should pay the most to the high school district. New residents should also pay more because they already pay more to live here than longer-term residents. One thing for sure, corporations should pay nothing or as little as possible. New Sikivon Valley corporate employees are mostly imported - not home grown. And when one adds the cost of all those administrators, maybe public schools should also receive some local sales tax revenue. Glad I could help clear it all up.

25 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 9, 2016 at 8:02 am

Jim Neal is a registered user.

We keep hearing stories about how teachers cannot afford to live on the 'meager' salaries they earn and how they cannot afford to pay for housing here. And yet if this story is accurate, the average teacher salary is a lot higher than mine and I have worked in the tech industry for almost 30 years!

Should teachers be paid less? That is not for me to decide, that is up to the majority of the voters; however, I will say that with such stellar salaries, we should be getting far more in terms of educating children in public schools than we have been. I think I will vote "no" on any future bond measures to fund the schools until I see an improvement in that regard. Obviously they already have enough money because they are taking care of student needs first and then the teachers' salaries....right?

Jim Neal
Old Mountain View

30 people like this
Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 10:28 am

I, for one. am glad to see that there actually is a public school district, although a stand alone high school district, that can pay their staff an outstanding salary. Kudos to the Los Altos/Mountain View high school district for valuing their employees and compensating them adequately. It's too bad that all public school districts cannot do the same due to antiquated and systemically inadequate funding models.

3 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 10:48 am

Writing an article for The Talon and was researching the costs to the district. It's roughly 2.4 million the first year and 1.8 million every year after. The writer didn't include classified teacher pay increases in the $1.7 million figure.

pdf: Web Link

First year: 2.275 million + 0.170 million = roughly 2.4 million
Second year and Third year: 1.685 million + 0.126 million = roughly 1.8 million

51 people like this
Posted by OH NO!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 9, 2016 at 11:05 am

You guys need to keep this 6.75% pay raise very quite, or you will have the Mountain View Tenants Coalition/Day Worker Center after you to cap these increases to CPI, which is 2%.

20 people like this
Posted by Pay Up and Up
a resident of Bailey Park
on May 9, 2016 at 11:23 am

Landlords love paying property taxes to support public schools based on old and low assessments. The key here is that the government is not running up a deficit with its spending. Well, only a trillion dollars every year adding to the "national debt" currently at over 19 trillion dollars.

35 people like this
Posted by Reallymtnv
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 9, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Reallymtnv is a registered user.

@Pay Up and Up


"Harding said the district can handle the increased burden because of the recent double-digit growth in local property tax revenue."

If you would know anything about the real estate market, you would see that "apartment buildings" are being a big part of this growth.

Would you care to show us the statistics of what the "older landlords" pay as opposed to what "older homeowners" pay to back up your biased claim?

Everyone has the same rules apply to them, regarding taxes.

The point being made by Oh No is this, if capping increases to CPI for one group is good and fair, then it should be good and fair for everyone. You can not pick and choose those you like and dislike to be fair and objective. Further, all property taxes are limited to 2% annual increases per year, plus any additional taxes for other parcel taxes and school bonds that are voter approved.

People are currently seeking to make new law that caps rent increases to CPI, 2%. Current property taxes are already 2%, plus extras. You are being a hippo crate if you say 2% in property taxes is to low, yet you support 2% cap on rent increases.

It is interesting that this last post from you gets posted, bashing landlords, then this tread gets locked for registered users only. I would like to ask the moderator how that happened?

Is this further evidence/proof that shows the Voice is a biased paper?

7 people like this
Posted by Longview
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 2:34 pm

Longview is a registered user.

The CPI does not reflect how much rents have been increasing. Not 2%, but rents are up 8.8 percent in Mountain View, as reported by the Mercury News on Jan 15, 2016. When rents go up more than salaries, workers are poorer. Mountain View teachers who are renters will still probably have less money to spend this year than last, even after the raises they will receive. Who wants to stay at a job where you become poorer every year? IF rent stabilization passes in Mountain View and other cities, then salary raises will become less crucial for teacher retention. In this rental market, the school district is not even keeping up with the rental costs that many teachers are facing.

19 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on May 9, 2016 at 3:04 pm

To Pay Up and Up,
"In general, the worse students go to the public high schools." "Those students are a huge psychological burden......." Excuse two kids attended LAHS and had 4.0 GPA. They are the joy of our lives and they are NOT a burden. Thanks for insulting us.

22 people like this
Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 9, 2016 at 4:40 pm

To anyone who thinks they shouldn't pay taxes for schools because they don't have children: the way our system is set up, it's the workers of tomorrow whose taxes go to Medicare, Social Security, building roads, paying for police and fire departments, running government, things which even people without kids get to benefit from. Some economists have jokingly floated the idea that people without children should pay an extra tax because they don't create future taxpayers.

This of course shows how silly it is to try to determine who uses what services and welfare programs. For example, I bike to work and for most of my errands, but I understand that freeways are still needed for society to function, so I don't mind my tax dollars funding their construction. We are all in this together.

18 people like this
Posted by MVWSD
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 9, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Meanwhile the elementary school salaries are below average in an area with above average cost of living.

47 people like this
Posted by LetsBeFair
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 9, 2016 at 6:09 pm

I just received my letter from the City Of Mountain View, starting July 1, 2016 proposed rates increases,

Water rates are increasing 10% to 12%
Sewer rates are increasing 19%
Trash and Recycling are increasing 10%
Potential new Composting Service up to 8%
Potential Recycling Service 2%
Add all these up and it is 51%

The problem with using CPI to cap rents, or any other services, is that it does not reflect the actual costs that a business has to deal with.

I am all for having the best schools and teachers for our community. I hope people understand that it costs schools money to operate here by paying their teachers higher pay. Using CPI as a guide for salary increases would be unacceptable. That same rules apply to all businesses, including apartments. Just look at the above double digits increases again this year for these utility's.
Apartments did not create the high cost of living here in the valley. Trying to put the entire cost burden on them alone is wrong, there needs to be a regional solution to the issue.

Can you name just one expense that a landlord has that will be capped at CPI?

17 people like this
Posted by KD
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 9, 2016 at 11:36 pm

Letsbefair states "Add these up and it's 51%"

Rather than try to explain some basi mathematical concepts, I feel it best to quote Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us"

11 people like this
Posted by Part of LAHS
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 10, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Marie, Pay up and Up obviously does not know anything about our kids in Los Altos High School or anything else for that matter. I first took offense to his comments and then realized I couldn't be upset at such an ignorant person.

Welcome to the brilliant kids in LAHS Club!

11 people like this
Posted by LetsBeFair + KD = ....
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 11, 2016 at 9:26 am

LetsBeFair probably didn't have a very good math teacher.

10 people like this
Posted by Sure why not
a resident of Bailey Park
on May 11, 2016 at 7:26 pm

The taxpayers have unlimited wealth and the unions can use more money from their dues to fund their liberal super PAC machine.

5 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 13, 2016 at 7:25 am

Stand-alone high school districts in California have the highest per pupil (ADA) state funding, compared to Unified (Palo Alto) or Elementary (MVWSD & Los Altos). Living in the Silicon Valley - particularly Google Gulch - school districts are both blessed and cursed with high property values (and high rents and tax revenues).

On top of that - locally, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Mountain View and Santa Clara have more than the state minimum in property tax general revenue. They don't get 'general funds' top-up from the state, and are so-called "community funded." Chris Chiang occasionally writes about these issues as a former public high school teacher and former elementary public school trustee. Please read well his viewpoint when he writes on this issue. Or go here [ Web Link ] Chapter 8.5

I do not begrudge the MVLA teachers their higher salaries. My kids have gone through that system - and I have no problems with the academic results. Stanford graduate (honors and academic distinction) and current college student with a National Merit academic scholarship (and perfect SATs in 2/3 of the categories).

LetsBeFair? KD, we can only smile and cry at that!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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