The Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the state’s largest teacher group, has filed a lawsuit against the state for cutting the 10 percent salary supplements going to about 2,500 National Board Certified teachers.
PAGE is requesting that a Fulton County Superior Court judge reinstate the supplements, which were cut from 10 percent to 5.2 percent by lawmakers seeking to slash spending this year. The change cost many of the top teachers $2,500 to $4,000.
“We file this lawsuit reluctantly,” PAGE Executive Director Allene Magill said. “We worked very hard with legislators to prevent them from creating this problem during the last session. We told them that if they wanted to bring the program to an end that they would need to honor their commitment to those who had already earned the certification.”
Bert Brantley, spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue, said the state will defend its action to cut the supplements. “The law is what it is and we’re going to follow it,” he said.
State teachers who earn national board certification have been getting salary supplements for more than a decade. They say they were promised a 10 percent pay supplement if they went through the certification process, which can often take more than a year and costs $2,500.
Perdue proposed eliminating the supplements entirely this year, but lawmakers included enough money to pay about a 5.2 percent supplement. Some school districts have not paid anything because they worry the financially strapped state won’t reimburse them for even the 5. 2 percent supplement.
Legislators also passed a law saying the supplements would be paid in the future “subject to appropriations,” meaning the General Assembly may not fund them at all in the future.
Several gubernatorial candidates, including former Gov. Roy Barnes, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) and Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, have spoken out against the supplement cuts.
“We believe that the amounts of salary national board teachers will be losing places an unduly harsh burden upon them,” said Magill. “While all educators shared in the cost of furlough days, this action singles out a relatively small group of the state’s most highly certified teachers and takes several thousand dollars of salary from each of them.”