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.