Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Contracts, pay and tenure remain in limbo

July 1 marked the start of the 2014-15 budget year,  but crucial decisions about educator pay and working conditions remain in the hands of the N.C. General Assembly,  where GOP leaders remain deeply divided.

That means leaders of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and other districts had better come back from the July 4 week revved up and ready to hustle.  Consider:

*The fate of hundreds of teacher assistants remains uncertain. The Senate plan cuts jobs to boost teacher pay, while plans from the House and governor preserve them.  Additional teacher jobs that were promised in last year's two-year spending plan also remain in limbo.  The result:  Schools will have to adjust staffing plans whenever lawmakers come to agreement.

*  The Senate's budget requires teachers to choose between a scale where they keep tenure and get locked into current pay or a  "professional scale"  that provides significant raises with no job protection.  The House and governor's plans do not.  If the Senate approach prevails,  districts will have to figure out how to get thousands of teachers to indicate their choice,  then adjust their pay accordingly.  If that's not done by the state of the academic year,  which seems likely,  they could  have to calculate retroactive pay.

*Teachers who are working on master's degrees don't yet know whether they'll be compensated for them.

*Under the  "25 percent plan"  approved last year,  CMS had to designate teachers eligible for four-year contracts,  and teachers selected would have had to say yes or no by Monday.  A judge put that plan on hold,  but the Senate budget would revive it.

CMS never notified teachers whether they made the 25 percent cut.  But in June the district did offer one-year contracts to teachers who haven't qualified for career status,  or tenure.  Spokeswoman Kathryn Block says just over 84 percent of those contracts have been signed,  and the rest are getting reminders.  Six who didn't sign have resigned,  she added.

*Money for textbooks,  technology and three new college-based high schools that CMS will open in August also remain up in the air.

All of this makes the back-to-school countdown nerve-wracking for all concerned.  And while Aug. 25 is the big day,  it comes even earlier for students in year-round Project LIFT schools and the high schools based on Central Piedmont Community College campuses and at UNC Charlotte.

Charter schools are exempt from many of the state rules about tenure and pay.  But they,  too,  are waiting on passage of a state budget to know how much money they can count on.

25 comments:

Bolyn McClung said...

.
“I’LL GLADLY REPAY YOU TUESDAY FOR A HAMBURGER TODAY”

In case anyone has forgotten, North Carolina must operate a balanced budget. It can’t borrow from the future to pay for today. It can’t conduct itself like Popeye’s friend Wimpy who famously and often said, “I’ll gladly repay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

The North Carolina Fiscal Research Division’s final quarterly report for the year is due out on July 8th….or thereabouts. No doubt the General Assembly already has a sense of what revenue collections have been. They likely know whether the 2013-14 budget is in the red or not.

As far as teachers are concerned, a lot depends on what the NCFRD’s 4th quarter report says about revenue for the next six months. It has a near perfect record in this area.

The reason I bring this up is that the General Assembly has only two ways to fund the teacher pay solution: Take from other programs and have higher tax collections. Well, there is another but nobody believes the Education Lottery is going to suddenly be more popular than Las Vegas.

General Assembly fiscal actions over the last two years tell us NC voters didn’t send a bunch of Wimpys to Raleigh. Unless the projection for revenues is better than the 3rd quarter NCFRD report in April, teachers will be eating hamburger instead of steak next year. But like Wimpy, they’ll have to borrow on their credit cards to go to the grocery store.

Bolyn McClung
Pineville
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Anonymous said...

unfortunately,CMS officials continue make PR blunders by creating high paying admin jobs,and voer paying for principals, which does not do much in the way of creating support in Raleigh for the cause of teachers.

Anonymous said...

Anne's piece clearly shows one of the structural problems I see with NC government. The legislative sessions start too late. Decisions are not made until the last minute which leaves counties, cities and school districts scrambling to make decisions since they depend on the state budget.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why the state legislature does not convene in January. It could wrap up in March or April (depending on whether it is a short session or long) and that would leave two months for the counties, cities and school districts to make their budgets based on numbers from a state budget that has been passed into law.

Can anyone explain to me why NC does it backwards (other than "That's the way we have always done it.")?

Ann Doss Helms said...

That's a great question, 9:36.

Bolyn McClung said...

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TO: 9:36

SUBJECT: WHY CAN’T THE SESSIONS BEGIN IN JANUARY?

Well, there is an alternative. Say, like Washington that has stopped passing budgets. Their solution has been continuing resolutions to raise the spending limit. As I wrote in the earlier comment, NC is on a constitutionally required balanced budget. It must meet annually to make sure that happens.

This leads to why not in January instead of May. The answer is tied to revenue collections. There isn’t enough information in January to adjust the budget. This makes sense when the tax filing deadline of April 15th is likely the earliest that Raleigh knows how much money will be available for the end of business on July 31st.

Another more subtle marker is the May primary date is always scheduled before members begin showing their true colors in June.

Even more devious reason for the May start is weather. What General Assembly member wants to be snowed-in in Raleigh too long with his girlfriend when he needs to be back home for church on Sunday? Yes, General Assembly members must budget time as well as money!

Bolyn McClung
Pineville
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Anonymous said...

9:36,
It's a part-time job for legislators and the short session is even more a part-time job with fund raising, committee meetings, distribution of talking points, arm twisting, lobbyist distractions, tactics, fund raising, avoiding voters, fund raising, avoiding reporters, flip flopping, fund raising, relearning talking points, and required puppet string maintenance by those really in charge.

Anonymous said...

8:36 - that's the Broad Way...once we get Eli Broad out of education then we can make some progress. Until then, groups like NCTQ will come out with "studies" showing that the way to make change is from top down, overpaying for "talent" that knows NOTHING about education.

As for the senate, they need to recognize once and for all that pay and "tenure" are NOT linked. If you want to eliminate any job protections, do it from this moment forward. But if you try to take a property right from those who have earned it...well, the senate will lose that court battle every time.

Wiley Coyote said...

The yearly "woe is us" from CMS and the County on we don't know how much money we're going to get is nauseating.

As others have said, cut your own budgets! Cut the fat from the top.

The state, county AND CMS need to be more efficient and make do with what they have instead of acting like leeches and sucking more money from taxpayers because some politicians and educrats cry rivers over "it's for the children" and use that as an excuse for their inefficient use of the public's money...

Anonymous said...

Ann,

On a related topic, are you aware of what plans, if any, CMS has in place to deal with the anticipated influx of young immigrant students currently arriving as unaccompanied minors in the U.S.?

There was a brief overview published in EdWeek a day or two ago entitled "U.S. Schools Gear Up for Surge of Young Immigrants". NC schools have one of the largest populations of refugee and immigrant students in the nation, and though many of these children (as young as 10 or 11) arrive in Texas or California, they are being settled in places like Maryland and New York - pretty much anywhere the Office of Refugee Resettlement has existing networks in place. Charlotte is certainly among those cities.

Has CMS received any federal guidance on this matter? These kids are coming and will need a network of support services in place. If I'm not mistaken, refugee service agencies only have 30 days after the children's arrival to enroll them in school.

Some school with large immigrant and refugee populations are already severely impacted by overcrowding and understaffing. It would be my hope that CMS and other districts have enough information to request additional federal funding for ESL programs and staff now, rather than being blindsided and attempting to recoup funds months or years after the fact.

Thanks for any info you can uncover.

Anonymous said...

Heath's incessant whining about lack if money must be to take scrutiny away from his dismal resukts.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous T 10:42. Isn't Eli Broad just an excuse. You were failing at educating our kids before he entered the picture. Why should we think you could do any better were his influence to exit the picture? This anti Broad and anti Teach for America theme is getting old.

Wiley Coyote said...

1:07

We should follow San Diego's lead, meet the buses at the County line and send them on to Washington.

This is busing 2.0 in 2014.

Anonymous said...

The problem is gred among school boards - they continue to want palatial schools - schools can be built for far less - CMC is going to keep on and we will wind up with a 17.5% tax increase like Union County just got.

Anonymous said...

Heading into the 2014-2015 school year I count at one school at least 6 tenured teachers who left. Over 150 years of experience left you. You cannot replace that with a 24 year old $30,000 a year kid. Its just a fact your product just got watered down. Heath or the lobbyist CMS does not have needs to stand up to the state/county leaders. It has not happened yet. Its getting to be too late by the day. Pay em or they leave face facts.KW HURLEY

Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:05: guess who designs the palatial schools? Think there might be some connection there?

Anonymous said...

2:41...

What is your basis for your opinion? When adjusted for poverty, US schools do a very good job. You, along with the rest of the public, have bought into this theme of "failure" thanks to the corporate media which has a vested interest in privatizing education along with Broad. Gates, Broad and the Waltons have created bloated accountability departments, testing and charters which wind up enriching the 0.01%. The philanthropists, the USDoE, and media have convinced everyone that reforming education can cure everything, but in the 20 years of NCLB, we know it's only one piece of the puzzle.

Anonymous said...

TFA is a non issue. Some are good and some are awful. Regardless, most are gone in 2 years.

Anonymous said...

You also fail to mention that the senate's budget eliminates 70 school nurse positions and moves another 166 school nurse positions from tier 2 and 3 counties like Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Union, Iredell, and Gaston to very rural counties. The problem with that is most rural counties are at or under the recommended 750 students/nurse, while nurses in many tier 2 and 3 counties have up to 1,500 students.

That is another way the senate plans to pay for teacher raises. The house took it out, but McCrory put it back in. Remember that when you vote this November. I know I won't be fooled by Pat again.

Anonymous said...

Re: palatial schools, I've yet to see one. The new ones are certainly better than the decrepit, roach-infested windowless detention centers and black mold trailers so many CMS students are consigned to, but they are still constructed of cinder blocks and cheap tile with no thought given to energy and maintenance costs.

Sine it seems they're willfully ignoring the widespread mold contamination in classrooms and trailers, maybe the shoddy construction and the inefficiency with which new buildings are designed could be looked into.

Even buildings less than five years old have leaking roofs, non-functioning heating and cooling systems, light fixtures which fall off the ceilings, sewage backups - you name it. I don't know who gets these contracts, but if they were a home-building business, they'd have been sued out of existence by now!

Anonymous said...

Curious as to the taxpayer costs of transferring so many principals or hiring out of area. Does CMS give hiring bonuses to either group? Subsidize moving costs? Reimburse for day-to-day-travel?

Our realtor told us her agency is suddenly handling the sale and purchase of a LOT of very nice homes for CMS administrators, much more so than in years past. Makes you wonder.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:46.....yes indeed, you sure CAN replace 150 years of teaching with a 24 year old kid making $30,000 a year. That's the point. The tenured crowd with their 150 years of "teaching," has our kids where we are today. Look up North Carolina's education reputation as far as one of the 50 states. The money is gone. The city is broke, the state is broke, the nation is broke. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not......$30,000 a year for a hungry college grad is the better business choice than $60,000 a year for old, tired, "woe is me" teachers who burn all their sick and annual leave, and can NEVER be fired. The joy ride is over. Want something better.....work harder and smarter....and send you kid to private school.

Unknown said...

@8:00....as an educator pushing 20 years of experience in CMS....I WISH I was making close to $60,000 a year. And as for your comment re burning sick and annual leave I was out exactly 2x last year-once for a required inservice and once as I was sick. And as for burning days-I'd rather be at school with my students (with whom I truly enjoy interacting) than to miss a day with them. And just as an FYI I have 43.12 annual leave days, 6 personal leave days and 133.65 sick days.....in all over a year's worth of days...so I could use them now and now go back to work this coming school. But I will NOT do so-why? Because I (just as a lot of us do) care. That's right....regardless of public opinion, favor, or respect I care...I care for the kids who enter my classroom-ready to learn or not. I care enough to find what it is that will interest them and help them to become successful!!! And you are welcome in my classroom any day...step in and see what it is I do (and thousands of others in the system)to make a difference in the life's of my kids....just as they impact my life!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon at 8 pm is a troll. Let her spew her opinion forth; just ignore.

Anonymous said...

@8:00 p.m. - What these "hungry" new college grads are hungry for isn't on the menu in NC schools.

That is, the chance to teach rather than teach to the tests, the opportunity to earn a living wage within five years, the knowledge that they can learn and grow in their profession without having their career derailed by one petty despotic administrator, the textbooks and tools they need to do their jobs, respect from students, support from parents and administrators in disciplinary matters, targeted professional development that isn't a complete waste of time, adequate and affordable medical, dental and vision insurance, state legislators who pick a curriculum and stick with it...pick any three.

Unless and until these fundamentals change, every NC school district will continue to see "bright flight"; that is, the most effective and caring teachers will flock in record numbers to other states or leave teaching altogether.

Anonymous said...

What college grad would want to teach here? You would have to be an idiot to choose NC. So many places around the country are looking for teachers. NC is a terrible market for teachers.