Fulton County is using surplus funds to award teacher bonuses this year, a move that ought to be cheered by the county’s teaching force. But the decision is proving divisive given the plan to award classroom teachers $1,000 and those who “support teachers” $500.
The school board voted last week to spend $9.4 million in surplus funds on employee bonuses to make up for missed raises. Classroom teachers will receive $1,000. All other full-time employees in support roles and in central office will receive $500. See the AJC story here.
An educator who falls into the support category said she was unhappy with school chief Robert Avossa’s explanation for the disparity, an explanation that she felt denigrated her efforts, commitment and professionalism.
“Most of us would agree that in a school system, you have two groups of employees – teachers and those who support teachers,” said Dr. Avossa. “We value the contribution that every employee makes to our system, so everyone is included in this plan. But few would argue about the impact that classroom teachers have on student achievement. They contribute more to the success of individual students and for that reason they are receiving the lion’s share.”
Here is what one support staffer had to say about that:
We can all be voted upon by our colleagues as a Teacher of the Year but, it appears, that carries no weight when compensation “bonuses” are handed out. If he is truly trying to erase the “divisive nature” of this county, as he said in a recent Teacher Advisory Council meeting, then he has truly missed the mark.
I have heard from several media specialists about this two-tier bonus. They feel it disrespects what they do and how well they do it.
But a Fulton classroom teacher told me that she and her peers deserve the bonuses because they’re the ones under the hot glare of test scores and the ones who take the heat when the school doesn’t show improvement.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog