Clayton County school salaries could be reviewed

By Greg Gelpi

Special Education teachers lined up to express concerns to the Clayton County Board of Education last month, and paraprofessionals are expected to do the same tonight.

Members of the Clayton County Education Association will address the school board, asking for reviews of paraprofessional salaries and other issues regarding pay, said Tonya Pass, an educational support professional at Smith Elementary School.

Reports by the News Daily of pay raises to many throughout the school system, including all seven assistant superintendents and a handful of central office secretaries have angered some within the school system.

Pass, 39, said she hasn't received a pay raise since she began working for the school system in 1997 other than small incremental raises of $30 to $40.

"By the time you take out taxes and insurance, you don't see it," she said.

The school board will consider taking action on a "compensation study" during its meeting at 7 tonight. The study would come months after Superintendent Barbara Pulliam gave raises to school system employees.

Raquel Stoutamire, a Fountain Elementary School paraprofessional, has been in the school system for seven years and said she has never received a pay raise.

"I was told that custodians get paid more than we do," Stoutamire, 33, said. "If I wasn't married and I didn't have someone helping me, I wouldn't be able to pay my bills."

She said she feels "overlooked and not even looked at."

"They always have an excuse and sometimes they tell us straight out (we're not getting raises)," Stoutamire said.

Other complaints being brought to the school board, include paraprofessionals not being given breaks for lunch, but monitoring students while eating lunch; some not being compensated for receiving degrees and education support personnel not being paid for working beyond their 37.5 hour week, although they are paid hourly, Pass said.

"Everyone in the county knows we work more than 40 hours a week," she said.

The school board will also revisit the issue of revamping its bid process. The proposed prequalification of bids failed to be approved by the previous school board when it was considered in December.

The proposed changes would require bidders to first meet predetermined criteria before placing bids on particular projects.

In other business, the school board will consider recommendations to fill the positions of interim principal of Mt. Zion High School, coordinator of Reading First/Federal Programs and chief financial officer.