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Superintendent's Update - April 2, 2021

From the Office of the Superintendent:

Our next meeting is a few weeks away and things may shift. The current agenda calendar can be found HERE.

Each year, PAUSD engages in contract negotiations with our two professional associations, PAEA (teachers) and CSEA (classified staff). In some school districts, the routine process receives little to no public attention. In others, like Palo Alto, the process is discussed more widely through different media forums. This year will also be more confusing as news stations are using the term "negotiations" to explain school districts still trying to reach agreements for returns to in-person instruction. We completed that work many months ago.

I want to spend a minute to explain a few things. The rules of negotiations for school districts are well-defined. PAUSD management negotiates with both associations separately. The management team consists of a small number of administrators and an attorney. Each association has a small negotiating team and a professional representative. All formal proposals are posted on our website within a day of the session for transparency. The website postings are clinical and free of editorial comments from either side.

Some school districts traditionally settle negotiations in the fall. Locally funded school districts, like PAUSD, often settle later. This is because our money comes largely from property taxes that arrive later in the year. Last year, we settled very early by using a formula to predetermine the use of money arriving later in the year. This year, we all decided to wait and focus our collective efforts on reopening efforts during COVID.

Negotiations are overwhelmingly collaborative and professional as a rule. We are thankful for strong relationships and mutual respect. That doesn't mean we all agree on everything. It does mean negotiations always end with a resolution if we trust the process and keep things from getting personal.

The process of negotiations takes place in closed meetings. They aren't "secret". They are confidential. This allows everyone involved to share ideas and perspectives freely. Once those ideas take the form of a proposal the documents are posted. When both sides believe a proposal is acceptable, we sign a Tentative Agreement (TA). That signals the potential end of negotiations and shifts to ratifications. Our unions ask their members to vote to ratify the agreement and our Board of Education takes a similar action. Once both sides have taken action, the agreement is executed.

Negotiations are healthiest when the process is followed as designed. Some school districts do not post proposals publicly. PAUSD believes this is an important part of the process. Everyone understands the challenges and frustrations of the last year dealing with COVID. It is important that we professionally work through negotiations utilizing our representative teams.

Palo Alto Unified School District has been awarded grant funding from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District - Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program (Moyer Program). These funds will be used to purchase two new electric school buses and supporting infrastructure. The program provides funding for cleaner-than-required engines and equipment with the goal of reducing smog-forming and toxic emissions. PAUSD will receive in total $837,278.00; $400,000 per bus and $37,278 for infrastructure.