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Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Palo Alto Educators Association rallies over salary disputes

Kensie Pao
Teachers rally before entering the Palo Alto unified school district board meeting chanting “invest in education, not in reserves.” The Palo Alto Educators Association rallied to ask for a 5.5% teacher salary raise to compete with the cost of living in Palo Alto. “We’re asking to be paid and have equal benefits to a lot of the districts around us [and to help] the cost of living increase and those types of things”

Members of the Palo Alto Educators Association held a rally Tuesday at the Palo Alto Unified School District office, hoping to secure a salary increase after the negotiations reached an impasse.

Next to the district office on Churchill Avenue and El Camino Real, PAUSD teachers gathered outside the district office wearing PAEA shirts, holding colorful signs with messages such as “support teachers supporting students, it’s a win-win”, to rally for a 5.5% teacher salary increase and a reconstructed salary schedule. 

A statement released by the PAEA on March 29 said that PAUSD has “$135 million in reserves ($100 million more than what they are required to have).” According to PAEA President Teri Baldwin, the union is urging the district to use their reserves. 

“We would like the community to be aware that the district has values [money] and we know that what we’re asking for is reasonable,” Baldwin said. “The cost of living here is so much; we want to [keep] our great teachers for our students.”

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Initial frustrations occurred on March 29 when the PAEA declared an impasse on the teacher contract negotiation. This included a call for a raise so quality teachers can continue to teach at PAUSD, according to Palo Alto High School math teacher Daniel Nguyen. 

“When that [raises in teachers’ salaries] doesn’t happen, students don’t get the best teachers that are available because they [teachers] are going to other districts that will pay more,” Nguyen said. 

PAEA members are fighting for a salary increase because they say that they believe it is needed to keep up with the increasing cost of living in Palo Alto. According to Karen Easton, a first-grade teacher at Fairmeadow Elementary School, a salary increase would benefit students as well.

“We’re not asking for the moon,” Easton said. “We’re asking to be paid and have equal benefits to a lot of the districts around us … we want to be able to recruit more teachers to replace the ones that are going to retire. It benefits the students and the students are happier when their teachers are happy.” 

Additional reporting by Cate Graney