Teachers get another big raise

School board approves new salaries aimed at helping new teachers

Teachers in the Mountain View Whisman School District scored a hefty salary increase for the fourth year in a row Thursday night, after school board members approved raises geared toward helping newer teachers who are on the lower end of the pay scale.

The new salary schedule, which trustees approved unanimously at the Sept. 7 meeting with no discussion, gives a 7 percent raise to teachers who have worked in the district for nine years or less in the district, and a 5 percent raise for teachers with a longer tenure in the district. The lopsided raises in favor of newer staff means that teachers on the lower end of the pay scale can better keep up with the high cost of living in the area -- a concern that has been central to union negotiations for years.

Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph told the Voice that he commends the board and the teachers union -- the Mountain View Educators Association -- for acknowledging that starting teachers need to be able to afford housing in the Bay Area, and that the school district will be much more attractive for younger teachers when the bottom of the salary range is brought closer in line with the cost of living.

The salaries, which are effective for the 2017-18 school year, now range from $60,933 to $109,243, based on number of years served in the district and level of college education. The estimated cost of this year's raises totals a little over $1.6 million annually.

Though other neighboring school districts have offered annual raises closer to 3 percent in recent years, Mountain View Whisman has dolled out big increases in teacher salaries for multiple years. During the 2014-15 school year, the school board approved a 5 percent salary increase and a one-time bonus, followed by a 4 percent increase in 2015-16 and an 8 percent salary increase for the 2016-17 school year.

In past years, those pay raises were hard fought: teachers union representatives frequently butted heads with district administrators over salary negotiations, turning out in force at school board meetings and firing off emails and messages expressing frustration with the negotiation process. In 2014, a fiery debate over salaries left the union and the district at an impasse, leading the union members to reduce their work hours to only those contractually required, as a protest.

Since then, the lowest salary paid by the district has gone up from $47,000 to $60,900, while the ceiling for top salaries has increased from $88,218 to $109,200.

"We're pleased with the progress we've made to compensate our staff," Rudolph said.

Despite a budget forecast showing deficit spending in the coming years, the district's finances can bear the brunt of the salary increases this year, Rudolph said. Although the district has a stated goal of having a balanced budget by 2021, he said there's a competing goal to attract and retain teachers by staying competitive with other school districts.

Mountain View Whisman has been struggling with retention for years, losing about 20 percent of its teachers every year for the past four years.

"I don't think we're worried about (the budget), but we recognize, and the unions recognize, that we need to be fiscally sound and on track to have a balanced budget by 2021," he said.

Representatives from the Mountain View Educators Association could not be immediately reached for comment.

Unlike the more contentious negotiations of years past, the terms of this year's contract were negotiated, ratified by the union and approved by the board quietly without any show of public opposition from the district's teachers. Rudolph said that's a good sign that the district's administration and its bargaining tactics are open and transparent.

"The silence is a reflection of the trust we've built over the last couple years," he said.


49 people like this
Posted by reader
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 8, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Well done MVWSD and MVEA! I want my children's teachers to be happy with their place of employment and well paid for their time and skills. Thank you for some refreshingly good news.

30 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Sep 8, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

After years of comparing our teachers to far away K-8 districts, leaving our teachers underpaid, it is very wonderful news our teachers get what they deserve, pay comparable to nearby K-8 districts. Thank you to the superintendent and school board for focusing on teachers as the foundation in which all else is built.

MWSD will be slightly higher than Los Altos and Cupertino, as it should be for a city that wants a world class school system that succeeds with diverse students.

The way CA funds schools, we will never be able to pay teachers what is right, but it is right that we pay them the very most we sustainably can.

7 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 9, 2017 at 6:05 am

LAHS teachers are paid well over 300k, while MVWSD teachers are paid less than 90k. That is a huge gap in comparison! Teaching is quite a random profession when one can either get paid very well, or not enough to live in a city like Mountain View. I do agree with 'reader' that teachers should be paid well enough to be happy and provide better education for students.

10 people like this
Posted by gcoladon
a resident of Slater
on Sep 9, 2017 at 11:57 am

gcoladon is a registered user.

Observer, what is the source of your information that "LAHS teachers are paid well over 300k"? I would like to read more about that.

5 people like this
Posted by your friendly neighbor
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Here is the link for the Salary Scale for Los Altos teachers. Web Link

10 people like this
Posted by gcoladon
a resident of Slater
on Sep 9, 2017 at 12:51 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

Dear friendly neighbor, thank you for sharing that link. It is the salary schedule for the Los Altos Elementary School District. I believe Observer was referring to Los Altos High School teacher salaries.

The corresponding schedule for the MVLAHSD is here: Web Link

In it, the highest salary is $149,586. I am still wondering which LAHS teachers Observer is referring to that are paid $300k. I'm wondering if $300k, if accurate, is a number that includes all forms of benefits, or is an administrator's salary.

63 people like this
Posted by Maybe yes maybe no
a resident of Jackson Park
on Sep 9, 2017 at 7:09 pm

Big across the board pay increases would make a lot more sense if tenure were abolished. A good teacher is worth her/his weight in gold. A poor teacher, not so much.

14 people like this
Posted by Computerized learning
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2017 at 11:09 am

Computerized learning will be the new form of teaching, where kids can learn from the best teachers in the country. Thanks to Unions, our CA schools are at the bottom and with all the additional money spent on them they are not getting any better.

9 people like this
Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 10, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Glad to see that MWVSC teachers will be paid closer to their peers in surrounding districts. It's about time!

7 people like this
Posted by @computerized learning
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 11, 2017 at 11:05 am

ah - my computer - when I use the internet to learn, shows me that CA is not, as you claim "at the bottom". That I think we all agree would be 51st out of 50 states (+DC). One of the many recent metrics ( on State 8th Math proficiency, shows CA at 38th (27%). This is compared to MASS at 1st with 51%.

CA has been showing very slow gains, from even lower on the comparison scale. Although 'just money' does not help when student academic programs are not improved, just money can help winnow out good (academic) programs from chaff - and fund the most productive academic programs.

Kudos to Trustee Blakely - for starting to ask the hard academics/$$ questions: 'does this program make sense, do these programs make a measurable academic difference'? (Sept 7th Board discussion on after school programs and more spending)

5 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Sep 11, 2017 at 3:28 pm

money helps keeping classes smaller than 30 students.

7 people like this
Posted by @computerized learning
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2017 at 8:28 am

@me - smaller class size studies show? What is the academic achievement/$$ delta? Does it depend on what grade level and what student demographic? High performing or low performing students? Low economic families or high economic families?

Getting teachers at higher pay, is not by itself a solution. Keeping the best ranked teachers (median academic effectiveness or greater) or initially attracting the best prepared teachers is certainly part of the academic improvement solution.

6 people like this
Posted by Joel Lachter
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 17, 2017 at 10:58 pm

I am not sure I understand "Me"s comment. If we raise teacher salaries, there is less money to hire extra teachers (i.e., reduce class size). While I agree that we need to come up with the money to attract and retain good teachers, my understanding is that teachers are more worried about working conditions than salaries. That is the impression I get from talking to teachers and the impression from random articles I have read (e.g., Web Link). You need to pay teachers a lot to put up with district level decisions like the way Teach to One was pushed out and the involuntary transfer of three of Mistral's most experienced teachers this summer. Next year, expect more big raises, less experienced teachers, or a teacher shortage coming to a school near you.

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

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