Challenged School Stipends

FIRST SOME RELATED HISTORY

The challenged school stipends have been in place in one form or another since FY2005, and have lasted through FY2015. From FY2005 through FY2009 funding for them was quite available. The AACPS was getting funding allocations at levels that are nearly unrecognizable in recent years. Council approved increases in the operating budget during those years ranged from a low of $32.5 million to a high of $63.9 million; sufficient to provide step increases, COLA’s, stipends for challenged schools, and compaction of the salary scale to move educators from entry level to top salary faster. Our funding levels have been much lower in recent years. “New money” from all revenue sources including county, state, and federal government was $22.44M in FY2015 and $23.66M in FY2016. Those increases are spread across fourteen major funding categories. Only one of those categories is for instructional salaries and wages.

As a result of the scarcity of fiscal resources, compensation increases have become more difficult to negotiate and much more difficult to get funded. Unit 1 employees have received merely a few nominal COLA’s (recent 2.0% being the highest) and one-and-one-half step increases in the past seven years. It is not surprising that members have spoken loudly that the first two priorities were step increase and cost of living adjustments. Using FY2016 numbers, pertinent cost factors are:

  • One salary step = $10.10 million
  • 1% across the board (COLA) = $4.25 million
  • One year of challenged school stipends = $3.36 million
MOTION TO RE-OPEN CURRENT AGREEMENT IN ORDER TO RESTORE STIPENDS

TAAAC’s governing body, the Association Representative Council, took action on a motion related to the restoration of Challenged School stipends at its regularly scheduled December meeting. If passed, a letter would have been sent by TAAAC to the Board of Education requesting to re-open the FY16 Agreement for stated purpose of restoring the Challenged School stipends. The debate was robust and the testimony emotional from both supporters and opponents.

In addition to the debate, some information regarding the cost of maintaining those stipends was shared. Notes from FY16 negotiations contain a list of 28 schools recognized as “challenged.” That is just under 23% of our 123 schools and worksites. Based upon the cost factors identified above, one year of the stipends paid to 28 schools could cover four fifths of a 1% COLA for all Unit 1 employees. Maintaining the stipends for another 3 years would cost slightly more than a step increase for every Unit 1 employee. Maintaining them for another nine years would cost significantly more than three step increases over the elapse of those years.

THE MOTION FAILED BY A 32/48 VOTE.

It was not a result that pleased anyone very much, but for obvious reasons some less than others. Resolving issues that have disparate impact on populations within the membership is difficult and unpleasant. But when disparity is already embedded in the controversy it cannot be avoided. This resolution is not satisfactory to a portion of Unit 1 employees, but it was reached in a manner as democratic and fair as possible by a vote on the floor of the ARC, TAAAC’s highest authority, a council of representatives selected by colleagues in their schools and worksites.

GRADE-IN TOMORROW

Please be reminded that there will be a grade-in hosted by the Annapolis schools tomorrow from 3:00 to 5:00 in the food court of Westfield Mall in Annapolis. Please feel free to join Annapolis High School and its feeders.

TAR ERRATA

The December TAAAC Action Report noted the date of the next Association Representative Council to be January 5. The correct date is Wednesday, January 6, at Severna Park Middle School.