Almanac

News - April 14, 2010

PV school district staff offer to forgo pay hikes

by Andrea Gemmet

Facing layoffs and a serious budget shortfall, staff in the Portola Valley School District voted to forgo salary increases for the coming school year.

The Portola Valley Classified Employees Association will give up the automatic "step-and-column" raises in the 2010-11 school year, said Denise Schectman, the Ormondale School secretary and co-chair of the association.

The district is facing an estimated $550,000 shortfall projected for next year's budget. A $168 parcel tax on the special May 4 election would close some, but not all, of that gap if it passes. Anticipated budget cuts could include laying off all classroom aides in the district.

"The state budget is not really solid. We're going to have ongoing challenges," Ms. Schectman said. "We have to be prepared for what may come, and we want to work with the district to save as many positions as we can."

The wage freeze for the union's approximately 35 members will save the district about $30,000, Ms. Schectman told The Almanac. Members include both special education and general education classroom aides — also called para-educators — as well as janitors and secretarial staff. Two other district employees who are not represented by the union also said they will volunteer for the salary freeze.

"We recognize that this wage freeze alone will not solve the district's financial problems, but we do hope that this decision serves as an indication of the willingness on the part of our association to work together for a common good by helping to preserve staffing levels," association members said in a letter to the school board that Ms. Schectman read at the board's March 31 meeting.

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