The big winners appear to be high school teachers. The District Teachers Association (DTA) will be receiving a 4.6 percent salary increase across the salary schedule — a series of steps and columns that determine pay based on tenure and education level — as well as a half-percent increase in one-time pay. Mountain View-Los Altos already holds the title for having the highest pay in the entire state, and its teachers will now be making a base amount between $82,800 and $156,500, with a menu of "extra duties" outside of normal work hours that offer the opportunity to make more money.
The pay increase extends to the district's classified staff and "unrepresented" employees as well, which includes everyone short of the district's top executives. The raises will cost the district an annual $2.6 million in extra costs each year, and $3 million for the 2017-18 school year.
The Los Altos School District, which hasn't had the same banner years of additional revenue as the neighboring high school district, landed on a smaller pay increase of 2 percent this year, along with changes to the salary schedule adding up to an additional "roughly 0.275 percent" raise, according to district staff. More than 90 percent of the elementary school district's union, the Los Altos Teachers Association, voted to ratify the pay raise earlier this year.
The change means teachers on the lowest rungs of the salary schedule will receive $55,100 in pay, while the most well-compensated teachers can earn $105,100, according to the updated 2017-18 pay scale.
School board member Sangeeth Peruri, who voted for the raise, said teachers in the area deserve to be paid more, but conceded that the modest raise is the best that the district can offer.
"While I'm approving this contract, I don't think we pay our teachers enough," he said. "I think this is the best we can do, given the situation that we have."
The raise is expected to cost a little over $500,000 each year, and top district executives, including Superintendent Jeff Baier, will be getting a 2 percent raise commensurate with that of the teachers' union.
Mountain View Whisman School District teachers have been seeing healthy pay raises averaging more than 5 percent each year since 2014, ratcheting up compensation faster than neighboring districts, and this year appears to be no different. District officials announced June 6 that they had reached a tentative agreement with the Mountain View Educators Association (MVEA) that includes a 5 percent pay increase for teachers for the upcoming 2018-19 school year. The contract still needs to be ratified by district teachers in August before the school board would vote on it in the fall.
The raise means salaries would increase to nearly $64,000 for the lowest paid teachers and $114,700 for the highest paid ones, according to the salary schedule, and includes a bonus for teachers who have a master's or doctoral degree. Union representatives have fought for years to get increased pay for the district's well-educated employees, noting that Mountain View Whisman is one of the few in the region not to offer the perk.
The June 6 announcement came just days after district officials told parents in an email that they had bungled budget projections for this year and the next two years, over-counting expenditures and underestimating revenue over the next three years. The district was predicting $9.1 million in deficit spending starting in the 2017-18 school year through the 2019-20 school year, only to revise those figures to a $540,000 surplus — a delta of about $9.6 million.
Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph said the district typically holds off until June to agree on contract terms with its teacher union, giving the district a more clear picture of the assessed property value increases that largely determine the budget forecast for the upcoming school year. Not only did assessed value estimates go up from 5.3 percent to 7 percent, he said, but the district's finance team was also able to root out and correct a series of budget miscalculations that made the district's financial future look overly bleak.
Rudolph said the budget fixes weren't necessarily the trigger for the agreement between the district and MVEA.
"It's hard to tell what was the deciding factor," he said. "I think it helps to have a clear picture of everything with our contract negotiations."
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