There is a quote from the former State Superintendent June Atkinson that garnered some attention, but might need a little more explanation.
“I understand why teachers would be upset or concerned, but you do need people in the Department of Public Instruction who are extremely competent and who will make a difference for the teachers and students in the classroom, and that requires competitive salaries to do so,” she said.
Many could take this as complete agreement in what Truitt did in raising salaries for people at DPI. Dr. Atkinson was at the helm of the Department of Public Instruction for years. She knows its importance and the need for leadership. But she also knows what is happening in the state as far as teacher retention and recruitment is concerned. And we are losing teachers.
Dr. Atkinson knows that NC is the only state in the country to not pass a new budget for this next fiscal year. In fact, we haven’t had a new budget in three years.
It would have been prudent for EdNC.org to further question Atkinson about what DPI and Truitt could then do for teachers in this state who are “upset and concerned.” Dr. Atkinson would have been more than able to talk about how a state literally sitting on a large surplus could do more to help teachers because those people who received raises at DPI are not the ones in classrooms dealing with the effects of the pandemic on schools and students.
Further in the EdNC.org article is a question and answer portion where “Blair Rhoades, director of communications for DPI, addressed each of WBTV’s ‘findings’ in an email.” Infused are some thoughts from this teacher.
WBTV finding: “Five people earning a salary outside the maximum for their position classification.”
Rhoades response: “These represent unique instances where salary exceptions were made, as permissible by OSHR [North Carolina Office of State Human Resources], to recruit and retain the talent the agency requires and the districts deserves.”
According to today’s numbers at TeachNC, this state has over 23,000 vacancies in our public schools.
When the WBTV article first broke it was less.
Don’t our students deserve the “talents” of great educators? The need to recruit and retain seems to be there.
WBTV finding: “30 DPI employees making $100,000/year or more whose salary is above the midpoint of the salary range for their position classification.”
Rhoades response: “In the state’s compensation structure, the midpoint is considered the market rate or the competitive rate. These are experienced professionals who are within the range permitted by OSHR.”
Would Rhoades like to comment about the average salaries of teachers and educators to the national average considering that Rhoades wants to make comparisons with “market” rates?
WBTV finding: “19 employees making at least $75,000/year that received a raise this year of 10% or more. Ten employees in that category received a raise of at least 20%.”
Rhoades response: “Yes, the majority of these employees received a raise because they were promoted or had a job change, resulting in increased scope and responsibility.”
Name a teacher or educator who has not had his/her job not only change but responsibilities added to an already full-plate. Vacancies that can not be filled mean even more for those in the schools to do.
WBTV finding: “The top employee to get a raise this year received a 61% pay increase.”
Rhoades response: “This was a circumstance where the person was not paid what they were promised when they agreed to join to the agency. This raise was to reflect a promotion, and to honor the terms and conditions that were promised when the person was initially hired.”
The state told me as a teacher when I was hired in 2005 that I would receive longevity pay after a few years for each year in my career and now…. Oh, there is that graduate degree pay as well.
And I would like to see a recorded instance of that “promise.”