Furloughs in Clayton. No performance pay yet in Cherokee.

As predicted, budget challenges for schools are not going away next year, although there is some brighter news out of DeKalb for teachers.

Here are some AJC stories as well as some info sent to me by teachers about Race to the Top-driven contracts:

DeKalb: The DeKalb school board Monday adopted a tentative $1.16 billion budget for 2011-12, which restores furlough days for district employees. (To be clear, that means that DeKalb canceled almost all the furlough days enacted last year.)

Clayton County: Clayton public school employees will get to keep $6.4 million in incentive pay but must take five furlough days by the end of June under a budget-cutting plan approved  Monday. The furlough days will help save the jobs of elementary school counselors and music and art teachers, but elementary gym teachers and those who work with students in in-school suspension programs weren’t so lucky. Even after a spirited debate to hang onto physical education positions, the board voted to cut 60 physical education and ISS jobs.

District employees were given $6.4 million of $9 million in federal stimulus job-saving money late last year in exchange for attending professional development training, which must be completed by June. The money became a political and legal issue during last week’s regularly scheduled meeting and the board tabled a decision until Monday night — when it abandoned the idea of trying to retrieve the money. Monday’s meeting drew a standing-room crowd as district workers came to learn the fate of their incentive pay and possible jobs.

I also received a note that Cherokee was issuing contracts to teachers that included a performance pay option. I had the note on the blog, but Cherokee says the information was incorrect. And while Cherokee is part of the state’s Race to the Top grant, it says it is not rolling out any performance pay plan at this point.

Here is the official response from Carrie Budd, coordinator, Community Relations & Publications, for Cherokee:

Cherokee County School District has not offered any contracts as of yet, and likely will not do so until May.  Those contracts will be based on the same salary schedule as the current year (which is NOT a merit-based system).  CCSD is an active participant in Race To The Top, but the specific timelines for any performance-based pay have yet to be determined.

From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

132 comments Add your comment

ABC

April 19th, 2011
8:27 am

Hey Cherokee teacher: most people in “professional” industries haven’t seen raises in years either. AND we don’t get pension plans. AND for most of us, our take home pay is also down due to raising health insurance costs, which the “professional” industries pass on down to the employees. So seriously? NO ONE feels your pain.

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
8:31 am

“but those who choose to remain on the current merit pay system are being told that their salary will be frozen at its current step indefinitely.”

Welcome to the real world.

“Is that who we want educating our children?”

Ah yes…the ever popular “for the children.”

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
8:32 am

PS…if ya dont wanna do your job at the current pay level I suggest you resign, complain steadily, or quit so someone just as qualified might be hired in at a lower salary.

outsider

April 19th, 2011
8:34 am

Hey ABC: Most of the people I know (I’m not a teacher) who have comparable credentials in other professions have received raises more recently than teachers. Pensions are another matter, but I wonder whether younger teachers paying into the pension system now will ever see a pension check… I doubt it. I bet the state does a cash balance of the whole system within 10 years. Yes, if you want to compare teachers to, say, retail workers, they do well. I’m not sure they do well compared to the typical professional worker with comparable training and expectations.

PLC

April 19th, 2011
8:46 am

ABC,
Maybe you need more education because she didn’t complain about the lack of a salary increase. The issue is that the system is forcing people to sign a contract to be paid under a system that hasn’t even been created yet nor communicated with anyone. They’re trying to get people to go in blind, which isn’t fair no matter which way you look at it.

I don’t care about raises so much, but I do want to be fairly compensated under measures that are clear to me so I know how I can do my best. What part of that is too much for us to ask?

ODE 2nd VP

April 19th, 2011
8:56 am

The restoration in the DeKalb budget means 10 and 11 month employees will NOT have furlough days next year. Our pay will be restored back to the 2008-2009 school year, the last year that we had no furlough days.

12 month employees will have 4 furlough days.

Jackie T

April 19th, 2011
9:17 am

@ Dr NO

You may joke about it, but “for children” IS the most critical issue.

@ Cherokee teacher

Well, if they promise that they will “freeze” your salary, then they can’t reduce it, either, can they?

Also, if the contract is for 1 year, what does “indefinitely” mean in this context? Does it mean that if you change your mind next year, they can still freeze your pay – as a retribution? I can smell a lawsuit here.

Tonya C.

April 19th, 2011
9:26 am

@Jackie T:

Yes they can. If they decide mid-year the budget is short they will institute furlough days if needed. Equates to a cut in pay. “Indefinitely” being defined as even in future contract years for the foreseeable future no step increases for years of service will be granted. And if you agree to ‘performance pay’, there is no going back.

Bob

April 19th, 2011
9:33 am

Actually, teachers suffer just as much as the regular worker. Most systems have passed on the increased healthcare costs to teachers as well as making them take furlough days. So teachers have seen their take home pay reduced over the last few years as well. Add on the fact that they are also receiving the brunt of the frustration in regards to the “failing schools” and its any wonder there are any teachers at all. Who wants to continue to work in an environment where your pay is reduced, the angry mob is outside your door demanding your job, and those who are insisting on making the changes do not want your input? I know that many get in the profession because they want to teach and help change lives, but when you live and work in a constant fear that your best efforts aren’t enough, is it real wonder that teacher morale is low?

So for all those that feel no pity on the average teacher, I believe that your anger is misplaced.

drew (former teacher)

April 19th, 2011
9:33 am

Maureen,
RE: Clayton County. I’m confused…you refer to this $6.4 million as “stimulus” funding in one place, “incentive pay” in another, and “exchange” for attending professional development classes. So which is it?

My experience is that you don’t have to pay teachers to take professional developement classes…if they intend to renew their teaching certification they’ll HAVE to get the PDU’s (or whatever they’re calling them nowadays). And also from my experience, most of the “professional development” classes I’ve taken were a waste of time. Some classes seemed to exist for the sole purpose of providing some extra income for the person/teacher chosen to “teach” the class.

And was the county REQUIRED to spend the money in this manner? Just wondering, because $6.4 million could pay for lots of PE and ISS teachers.

Bill

April 19th, 2011
9:41 am

When the economy was great, you didn’t see teachers, law enforcement, and firefighters complaining how the private industry was raking in the dough. Now when things aren’t so good, we are wrong to complain…..Screw you!!!

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
9:47 am

Jackie T

April 19th, 2011
9:17 am

Its just a tagline. “How can one refuse to help the children.” OH Im gonna cry…

See how easy that is. Too bad most really dont care…its just, as I said, a tagline to pocket more dollars.

Georgia Teacher

April 19th, 2011
10:08 am

First and foremost: Don’t talk to me about a performance pay system until you show me how it works. And show me how it is going to work for all teachers, not just ones with standardized testing.

My understanding of the proposed plan for electives teachers is it will be evaluation based upon student and parent surveys.

So when little Johnnie does not make first chair in the band or when little Susie gets a bad grade in computer science because she didn’t do the work, the teacher is staring down poor pay due to poor evaluations from the students and their parents.

Exactly how is that fair to the teacher? Oh wait, it isn’t. I am not saying the current method of evaluation is good. I am just saying what they are looking at is worse.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

April 19th, 2011
10:10 am

DCSS:

Hopefully, any new SOS will have the courage to demand that the system, as a condition of his/her employment, will agree to undergo thorough performance, personnel and financial audits by competent, disinterested, out-of-state agencies and that the results of such audits would be released to the media. What educational results are the kids of DeKalb County achieving for the $1.16 billion being spent by the DCSS? Does each employee make an effective and efficient contribution to student learning? Are DCSS funds spent in conformance with state and federal law as well as with DCBOE policies?

Clayton CSS:

Which administrative personnel contribute more to student learning and well-being than elementary PE and In-School Suspension teachers?

Cherokee CSS:

Got MACE?

Posterchild

April 19th, 2011
10:20 am

The fun of the Clayton County $ was that we were told that we did not have to work the 5 extra days required, but we had to take the check when it was distributed. Since I already had plans for the extra days added on, I was just going to give them back the money through a check or payroll deductions. Now that these 5 additional furlough days are added in the mix, does this mean that I’m going to give back the 5 days of pay AND lose a week’s worth of pay all at the same time? Come on, Clayton. Make some sense to me here.

Teaching in FL is worse

April 19th, 2011
10:23 am

I feel like Rip Van Winkle. I fell asleep for a minute and suddenly teachers are the scapegoat for all that is wrong in America. Thanks Fox News!

The public at large complains that our students “rank” lower than the rest of the world. If you accept the rankings, you must also accept the fact that the countries ranked above us compensate and respect their teachers better than the good ole USA.

While you were paying attention to the “greedy” teachers, corporations were robbing you blind by ducking out on their taxes and taking TARP funds and laughing at you. (Check out Bernie Sander’s Facebook page.)

David Sims

April 19th, 2011
10:24 am

I tutor math, physics, and astronomy for free.

Sick and Tired

April 19th, 2011
10:40 am

Most of the talk about education should be placed on the floor of a Kansas City Feedlot, because it is mostly manure. No one in this forum has cited any factual research. Only rhetoric – from myriad sources.

If we want Shanghai schools, let’s do away with what’s left of democracy and become a communistic society.

If we want Singapore schools, let’s reduce the teaching hours per day as they do and pay teachers more.

The beat goes on, but the bs remains constant.

I am a teacher (second career, all but dissertation, national board certified, and darn proud of my students’ math scores) and I can hardly stomach it.

Dr. John Trotter

April 19th, 2011
10:44 am

Denigrating teachers and treating them like tall children or like the pariahs of public education will NOT improve public education one scintilla; in fact, this type of treatment of teachers will only precipitate the downward spiral of the public schooling process. Fact: You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions. The two are inextricably linked. You cannot have the former UNTIL you first establish the latter. This is Trotter’s Law of Relational Learning. As long as human teachers are used in the learning process (instead of simulated learning with computers, etc), then this is the law (principle of action) which must be established. Wait for my book for me to give you the details about this Law of Relational Learning. Ha! (c) MACE, April 19, 2011.

sissyuga

April 19th, 2011
10:47 am

I am telling you Race To The Top is a way to NOT pay teachers. Sign a contract even though the county doesn’t know how you will be comprensated. How smart and well thought out.
I think PAGE had it right when they said this could be a disaster. Call MACE!

Teaching in FL is worse

April 19th, 2011
10:47 am

@Sick and Tired: My experiences with research (I am not far behind you in my education) make me just a cynical as the other manure. We are dealing with humans, not machines.

Japan ranks pretty high. I taught there. I don’t want Japanese schools, not that it is possible. Diversity is not in their lexicon.

jarvis

April 19th, 2011
10:49 am

I do agree with Cherokee teacher in this aspect, how can you ask someone to move to a “merit based” pay system without explaining the “merit system”?

They haven’t been given any idea how the system will be structured. It would be very irresponsible for anyone to sign a contract without knowing what the contract entails.

Those of you saying “welcome to the real world”, if your “real world” includes signing things you don’t understand, then you are all fools.

?

April 19th, 2011
10:50 am

Isn’t it interesting that a system larger than DCSS has a budget that is smaller and is still experiencing a budget shortfall for the upcoming school year?

Teaching in FL is worse

April 19th, 2011
10:50 am

Additionally, I do not need research to tell me that when a large portion of the population is uneducated, they are more pliable and easy to manipulate. (Why else would Faux “News” be so popular?)

Bartow Teacher

April 19th, 2011
11:00 am

Last year those of us fortunate enough to have a job teaching in Bartow county signed contracts which did not include the number of days to be worked or the amount we were owed under that contract. However, we did have a published salary schedule to reference at that time. This year we expect to receive contracts in early May. However we currently have no salary schedule to reference. Our district spent over $370,000 this year to research and develop an updated salary schedule that to this point no teacher has seen. Let me know the last time another professional was asked to sign a contract that didn’t not include the length of the contract or what amount the person signing was entitled to?

If I am looking to have some work done on my house and the contractor submits a proposal which doesn’t include how much it will cost or how long it will take would you hire him? Probably not.

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
11:09 am

During the tough Obanomic disastrous times we must all, Endeavor to persevere.

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
11:12 am

No one is being forced to sign anything. Which reminds me of another ole saying…into each ones life some rain must fall.

AND had you people been saving your pennies etc you may have some cash for those rainy days. But nnNNNOOOO. Everyone was enjoying 0% interest credit cards, buying houses etc and now no one wants to pay up.

Bunch of whiners.

HS Public Teacher

April 19th, 2011
11:27 am

Dr NO – Your complete and total hatred of all teachers is well known. You don’t need to continue to beat a dead horse.

Your state of ‘mind’ (and I use that term loosely) is obvious whenever you use the term, “you people.”

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
11:32 am

“Your state of ‘mind’ (and I use that term loosely) is obvious whenever you use the term, “you people.”

Explain…

HS Public Teacher

April 19th, 2011
11:34 am

Contacts in the legal sense are intended to protect both/all parties involved.

These teacher contracts do absolutely nothing for the teacher. They do not protect the students/children nor do they protect education in general. They are only protecting the school systems. Boiled down, the contracts make college educated people slaves (doing any work at all that is asked at a whim) for a calendar year at some target level of pay (which may be reduced at a whim for any reason at all) and oh yeah, the college educated people can be released during that so-called contract year for most any reason at all. The contract only locks that person into a slot such that the person cannot do anything else.

This will remain so until the State of Georgia legalized real teacher unions.

Christopher

April 19th, 2011
11:36 am

@ Dr NO

Please be rational

HS Public Teacher

April 19th, 2011
11:38 am

Christopher – As a person that has read the school blogs on a regular basis, I can assure you that what you ask of Dr NO is simply not possible.

Truth

April 19th, 2011
11:39 am

@Teaching in FL and @ Sick and Tired – you are both right on…thanks for seeing through the rhetoric

Someone sent me this message on Facebook and I want to share here:

“Remember when teachers, public employees, planned parenthood, artists and PBS/NPR crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes? Yeah, me neither.”

This attack teachers is shameful…I concur with Dr. Trotter, teachers’ morale is related to school improvement. You can beat up teachers all you want but it will have an adverse effect.

People seem to have some confused notion of teacher compensation. We do not get “summer off” our pay is prorated to include those summer months. And any teacher will tell you that by the time you finish “post-planning”, “pre-planning” and required professional development – your summer break is similar to a two – week vacation which is similar to individuals in corporate America.

Additionally, pension plans are paid by the employee as well – I am a younger employee – so I elected for a pension plan since we do not contribute to social security. I do have a mutual fund because I have a feeling that my pension plan (even though I have paid over 15K into it) will not be “safe” when I am ready to retire in 2038.

Finally, enough though metro-Atlanta teacher pay is higher than most of the Southeast – I have plenty of friends in corporate America making more than me and have been for YEARS!!! Perfect example – my brother (we are from Ohio) graduated from high school and went to work in the auto factories. For over 10 years he made more than me – even though I had a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree – when the auto industries tanked he took advantage of a program to pay for him to go back to school and now he is working again and making equivalent of what I make…big difference is he has only a HS diploma and a technical degree with no student loans. I have 50K in student loans and 3 post-secondary degrees. Am I mad – a little bit…but I would do it again because oddly enough I like teaching and working with urban students. I believe in utopia – crazy but true – so I could really care less about what the general public says because THEY are not in the “trenches” working to change public education. “If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem!”

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

April 19th, 2011
11:42 am

Our concerned students, parents, teachers and administrators need to encourage one another. These folks also need the encouragement of other members of their communities.

By the way, what are teacher organizations doing to encourage their members, students, parents and administrators to keep the faith in the value of their daily efforts? What are these organizations doing to enlist concerned parents, administrators and students in efforts to improve teaching and learning conditions?

THANK GOD for the competent teachers, parents and administrators who work hard every day to help our kids prepare themselves for responsible futures!

HS Public Teacher

April 19th, 2011
11:44 am

@Truth – The sad part is that the ’system’ takes full advantage of people like you that simply want to help our children. This ’system’ actually is actively involved in making your job harder/more difficult. Georgia, for whatever reason, sees fit to take individuals such as you, and squeeze your morale and wallet throughout your career. Do more useless paperwork. Take furlough days (work without pay). And, so on.

It is so very sad.

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
11:47 am

LOL…you all are just crying because your little slice of fantasy is crumbling around you or seems to be. Suck it up. Ive seen what goes on in these public schools, from which my son graduated.

The offices are crammed with “administrators, secretaries, para these and para those.” And its nothing more than a hen-house. These schools are constructed as if they were the Taj Mahal in miniature. Free lunch programs are handed out like candy. Its just a joke. And now we hear complaints and we need more money “for the chldren. Tough noogies.

More money is wasted in education than probably welfare and or Food stamps.

ABC

April 19th, 2011
11:50 am

from HS Public Teacher: Boiled down, the contracts make college educated people slaves (doing any work at all that is asked at a whim) for a calendar year at some target level of pay (which may be reduced at a whim for any reason at all) and oh yeah, the college educated people can be released during that so-called contract year for most any reason at all. The contract only locks that person into a slot such that the person cannot do anything else.

That is pretty much how it is for EVERYONE ELSE. People in office jobs/college educated can be fired at whim. We need to do what we are told at all times, or guess what, we loose our jobs. People in office jobs/college educated take pay cuts all the time to keep their jobs.

How is YOUR situation any different than ANYONE ELSE’s in the private sector? No one else gets a guaranteed ANYTHING either.

JL

April 19th, 2011
11:51 am

THANK GOD for the competent teachers, parents and administrators who work hard every day to help our kids prepare themselves for responsible futures!

Competant administrators?? Whaaaaat? Please direct me to just one that isn’t a sleezeball lol.

ConcernedTeacher

April 19th, 2011
11:59 am

Please all of you that know everything about teaching but work in the private sector, those of us that teach do so because we know we can and are good at what we do. You should step foot in a classroom, work a day or two, and then see how you feel about what we deserve and what we are paid.

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
12:00 pm

HS Public Teacher

April 19th, 2011
11:44 am

Tendering a resignation is always an option.

senseandsensibility

April 19th, 2011
12:00 pm

If a teacher is to be paid based on evaluations… I want to be able to evaluate the parents and students for doing their part as well.. anyone receiving government subsidies should have to be at every open house, every special ed meeting, required to check on their kids once a week in a progress reporting system. If they dont then their pay is reduced. It’s not fair to say a teacher isnt doing their job and reduce their pay without making sure parents and the students do their share of the work as well.out of 30 kids in a class your lucky to get 4 parents that show up for open house or parent teacher conferences or attend IEP meetings for special education.

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
12:02 pm

ConcernedTeacher

April 19th, 2011
11:59 am

You are paid fairly or more than is deserved. If you think otherwise then quit. Go elsewhere and demand you be paid what you are worth!!

“Those that can, do
Those that cant, teach.”

senseandsensibility

April 19th, 2011
12:05 pm

why is it that everyone says your lucky to have a job stop complaining or if you dont like it quit… why cant you work to improve your status in life.. complaining isnt always necessarily that bad. Whats right is right and whats wrong is wrong. If you know your paying more percentage wise in taxes then lets say GE, or Halliburton, or bailed out by tax payers and paying your execs millions of dollars, or how about electric rate increases..and you still give bonuses to execs..to me their not doing their job if they need to increase prices… cut the bonuses without raising electric rates….so by your rationale DR NO… if you don’t like the tax structure leave??

HS Public Teacher

April 19th, 2011
12:09 pm

@ABC and @Dr NO – This is certainly not how it is in industry and I wish “you people” would get a clue and realize this. Also, this is SUPPOSED to be for the purpose of your children and not for making money or for manufacturing widgets – get a clue.

In industry, there is no contract to sign annually. There is basically a verbal contract that can be termininated by either party at any time.

In Georgia education, the employer holds all of the cards. If the teacher quits, then the school system submits their name to the GA PSC and that employee loses their certification – which means that they cannot get another job in Georgia. This is certainly NOT how it works in industry!

In Georgia, a teacher can be suddenly assigend to wash out garbage cans. If they refuse, then they can be deemed to have “broken the contract” and again the GA PSC can revoke their certification and that person can no longer work in GA.

You guys need to totally stop posting in any education blog until you educate YOURSELF about how things work!

senseandsensibility

April 19th, 2011
12:11 pm

ABC… most comparable jobs that have college education degrees or perhaps you worked your way up thru management…receive bonuses.. sometimes their pretty hefty other years maybe not.. public sector employees don’t receive bonuses. so it all works out in the wash one way or another.. its just how its structured. I know people who i would consider my equal in the private sector earning more money wise but less in benefits.. so even if the benefits may be higher.. sometimes the pay is not. You have to look at and compare apples to apples… and if you like what teachers get or public employees got..why don’t you apply for a job.. go back to school and get your education degree.. or protective services degree… If you dont like your job.. leave and find something else.. and quit trying to bring others down with you.!!!

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
12:11 pm

Im not worried about GE, Haliburton, paying execs millions or bonuses etc because without those huge nasty mean corps YOU and I would have no jobs.

Its not that you personally want this or that. NO…its that you dont want anyone having something you dont have, not that you really care anyway but its just your keepin up with the Jones new SUV mentality.

Teachers dont get paid like Execs nor should they nor should you. You who chose teaching new the salary ranges prior to entering so deal with it. You wanna be an Exec and make millions and bonus and company jet etc? Then proceed…I encourage you to do so.

PS…prices increases are due to fluxuations and cycles in economies. Its not all the bad mean evil corps. I would explain more but here is plenty of food for your thought machine.

Teaching is worse in FL

April 19th, 2011
12:12 pm

Dr. No,

Thanks for the comic relief. I’m not taking you as seriously as others. You are the Stephen Colbert of this blog.

Frankly, I have no complaint with my rate of pay, as long as I know what it is. Have to go, my tax accountant is working on my offshore accounts.

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
12:14 pm

HS Public Teacher

April 19th, 2011
12:09 pm

Private industry ee’s can be terminated at will also. Your case or list of cases is not different. GA is an Employment At Will State.

Sounds like you are the one in need of an education and thanks to the teaching job YOU CHOSE you are receiving same.

senseandsensibility

April 19th, 2011
12:15 pm

DR No.. try volunteering in one of these schools once.. and see what a 100 year old school does for you.. I wouldn’t call it the taj mahal.. all those germs floating around.. lice.. pink eye.. colds.. urine on the floor.. mold coming out of air vents.. a/c that works when it wants to… heat works when it wants to… maybe in some affluent districts.. but even they have issues as well…there not exactly taj mahals.. if they were id be happy as a clam.. but their not. Im not sure where you get that from.

Dr NO

April 19th, 2011
12:17 pm

Offshore accounts…oh yea me too…GOTTA RUN!! ;)