Menlo Park school board approves 5% raise for teachers | October 30, 2019 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Schools - October 30, 2019

Menlo Park school board approves 5% raise for teachers

by Angela Swartz

Menlo Park City School District teachers will see a 5% pay bump this school year, according to a contract agreement the school board unanimously approved at its Oct. 24 meeting.

The district's teachers union, the Menlo Park Education Association, reached the preliminary agreement after the school board approved a "teacher compensation philosophy" earlier this year that emphasizes giving teachers pay increases that are higher than what neighboring districts offer.

Teachers will receive a higher raise than they have in recent years. The school board last approved raises for all district employees on June 20, 2017, when it authorized a 2% pay increase for the 2017-18 school year and a 3% increase for 2018-19, according to the district website.

"The 5% raise will decrease the runway of financial solvency (defined by Board policy) from the current four years, to two years without going out for replacement of Measure X parcel tax passed in 2016," according to a staff presentation prepared for the Oct. 24 meeting. "MPCSD (Menlo Park City School District) will be more competitive in the highly competitive recruitment & retention market for high quality teachers."

The district's Measure X, a seven-year parcel tax with an initial rate of $360 per parcel, passed in 2017. The school board has had preliminary discussions about pursuing another parcel tax to go on the November 2020 ballot to help address deficit spending that could come, in part, from raising teachers' salaries, said Chief Business and Operations Officer Ahmad Sheikholeslami.

The agreement comes with a new teacher evaluation system, which was designed collaboratively between the teachers union and the district, according to the presentation. The focus of the new system is on "direct and ongoing feedback, support, commendation and coaching," according to the presentation. It also provides a performance rubric. The new system requires teachers to be coached when their performance is not meeting student needs or district expectations.

Cheryl Marelich, president of the teachers union, said in an email that the union "appreciated the collaborative, albeit fast-paced, nature of working with the District and School Board in revising the current teacher evaluation system, and will continue to advocate for our teachers as we prepare to move into the next round of negotiations this year."

The pay increase will be retroactive to July 1, 2019, according to the agreement. The contract runs from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

Menlo Park school district teachers made $106,986 on average during the 2017-18 school year, according to California Department of Education data.

At the same meeting, the school board approved a contract to hire Mary McElhinney Stark as interim chief business official.

McElhinney Stark will replace Sheikholeslami, who is leaving the district on Oct. 31 to become assistant superintendent of business services in the Pleasanton Unified School District.

Vaping public health emergency

The school board also approved a resolution declaring a public health emergency in regard to youth use of e-cigarettes, also called vaping devices, in light of a 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey that shows that vaping among high school students more than doubled from 2017 to 2019, to 27.5% of students.

The resolution expresses the board's support for the town of Atherton, the city of Menlo Park and San Mateo County to restrict the sale of tobacco products in order to prevent youth access to vaping devices. The school board suggests these local jurisdictions do this by:

•Prohibiting the sale, manufacture, and distribution of flavored tobacco products, along with e-cigarettes and electronic vaping devices

•Prohibiting the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies

•Setting a minimum price and minimum pack size for sale

•Restricting the marketing, product placement, coupons and promotional materials, and self-service displays of tobacco products in and from retailers

•Reducing the concentration and density of tobacco stores, particularly near schools and other areas youth frequent.


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