If you are a public school teacher in North Carolina, you are working harder this year than ever before.
There is talk of the state and the feds still mandating standardized tests. You have had to deal with adapting to a virtual platform and in many cases teaching twice as long to accommodate all of the conditions that this pandemic has thrown at public schools.
And there is that feeling that what will happen to budgets for next school year (2021-2022) could absolutely decimate local school systems and their ability to get the proper resources.
Most school systems have had a hiring freeze which means that those people who have retired or left the profession will leave unfilled positions whose responsibilities and duties are spread to others. My school alone has fewer teachers this year than last with the same number of students. And when NC had budget surpluses, we were already reducing the number of support staff and teacher assistants.
Plainly stated, this ain’t the time to give out raises in the tens of thousands to central office personnel in the name of being competitive when teachers and other frontline employees (especially certified staff) are doing everything possible to just procure what is needed to teach students.
But that’s what is happening in my district.
The following is a video of a working session for the WSFCS system from Sept. 8th. They are public so they are recorded.
And as elected officials and appointed public servants, they can be constructively criticized.
About 3 hours into the meeting, salary for central office personnel was brought up and recommendations for raises for some were quite large.
And to give a little bit of perspective, this is from October of 2019, a month after the current superintendent was brought to WSFCS. The document sets a new minimum for some central office jobs.
The positions that have asterisks next to them were newly created positions. It seems as if many positions may have gotten a financial boost with a new minimum just last year, but now there is a push to have more financial recompense within jsy another calendar year.
The reasoning? (Yes, it’s fuzzy.)
It says that right now four principals have a higher salary than the Deputy Superintendent. Ten principals in the system have a higher salary than the Assistant Superintendents. Seventeen principals have a higher salary than the highest paid Area Superintendent. And over 70 principals have a higher salary than the minimum CPO 1 salary.
They are saying that it is too hard to recruit central office personnel in comparison to other school systems that are around our size.
It’s a business decision.
First let it be known that we are experiencing a teacher shortage. Actually we have a bigger problem in that we are suffering from a huge teacher candidate shortage. Even last year, many central office personnel were taken out of their central office jobs and placed inside of classrooms.
Secondly, those principals who may be making more than some of these central office people could have many more years of experience in education and they have a salary that is based on experience in education. A principal who has more than 35 years in the public school system may have many, many more years than a central office person.
This system has many veteran principals. And thank goodness. We are in unprecedented times. And for students, parents, and faculty members, the face of a school is the principal. He / she is the most visible.
Another reason many principals may be making more than some central office personnel is that principals are on a salary scale that is attached to the number of students in their schools or ADM. From the NC Employee Salary and Benefits Manual:
West Forsyth is the biggest school outside of Wake and Meck counties. Look how many other high schools are 4A or 4AA in the county. We do not have that many middle schools in comparison. They are big as well.
And they are having to deal with fewer teachers in their schools. In many cases they are still trying to find people and resources to deal with teaching and learning in this pandemic.
Does this take away from what many central office people do or what their importance is? No. But it would mean that people at Central Office (some in newly created positions) would be receiving rather sizable raises any one of which could pay for another TA in a high needs school or help to give certified workers at least some sort of raise to keep from being at the poverty level.
Maybe the reasoning for these raises is that in order to keep qualified people in these jobs they have to compete with the “work force” and offer competitive salaries. But the very people they are supposed to be supporting, the very people who make the public education system work are having to do more work because there are fewer teachers now in our schools then there were this time last year. Let’s add to that the fact that teachers are some of the only state employees that do not get paid based in respect to what they could get in the private sector and that part of the “package” that is supposed to attract teachers (benefits and health insurance as retirees) was beginning to be eroded in the past ten years and that other incentives like longevity pay, due process, and graduate degree pay bumps have been taken away.
Instances like these present that ever-growing predicament of teacher compensation. Many in Raleigh are running campaigns on spun rhetoric that talk about what all has been done for teacher salaries. If teachers were paid based on labor market trends then data like the following would not be true any longer.
That $30K raise is about labor market trends.
Within that video of the working session, the comment is made that teachers will be getting a $350 bonus as if that should excite people in a time of budgetary crisis but that not giving tens of thousands of dollars to people not connecting with students on a daily basis is not enough and warrants explanation. It almost assumes that we should not look at bonuses any differently than salaries. They are both “compensation,” but one has effects for years even with retirement. The other is nonrecurring.
There’s too much nonrecurring money and resources we already are not getting in our schools. This state still has not passed a budget which usually devotes the largest part to the public schools.
Look at the optics of this. Not good.
Look at the reasoning for this. Not logical.
Yes, the person who wrote this is a teacher. A veteran teacher.
But he is also a taxpayer and a parent of a public high school graduate and a current special needs middle schooler who has an IEP thicker than a Russian novel and has a teacher assistant who has worked with him for years. And his teachers and TA are literally moving heaven and earth to help him engage and learn during remote learning.
Giving someone at central office a $30,000 raise just to be “competitive”?
Actually there are a lot of people in our schools who deserve that kind of raise.