Tension arose from several Clayton County Public School teachers in a public hearing on Monday, as the board of education informed the boisterous crowd they are keeping teacher salaries the same for the 2012-13 budget fiscal year.
“It’s been four of five years since teachers got a raise,” said Pam Adamson, chairperson for the Clayton County Board of Education. “We wish we could give teachers a raise, believe me we do, but we just don’t have the funding to do so.”
The proposed teacher annual salary schedule for the 2012-2013 school year, will operate on a 185-day calendar year, and projections for the next five years don’t reflect an increase in teacher salaries. Because of continual economic woes, a shrinking or stagnant tax digest, and expected cuts in federal and state funds, Adamson said that the decision was made to help the district deal with an estimated $40 million budget shortfall over the next three years.
However, during Monday’s public hearings held throughout the day, many teachers felt as though the news was worse — that they were receiving a pay cut. Adamson, a retired teacher, said that isn’t the case.
“I’m not sure where teachers are getting the information the pay is getting cut. It’s not; it’s staying the same,” said Adamson.
Sid Chapman of the Clayton County Education Association, who was present at Monday’s public hearing to speak on behalf of the teachers in the district, said the board of education is being deceitful when it comes to how teachers are being paid in the county.
“You have the money that state gives and the district has to pay the rest of the money,” said Chapman. “What the board has done was reduce the supplement so that pay has been the [same] for teacher for four years.”
Chapman added with the reduction in the supplement is almost like teachers are getting a pay cut in their salaries.
Wanda Anderson, a math teacher at Kendrick Middle School, said she was suppose to receive a pay increase, once she received her master’s degree certificate. However, she told board members that her paychecks were not reflecting that.
“Once I moved up in my certification, I was supposed to see a $600 increase in my salary after teaching 16 years,” said Anderson. “Currently, I’m in between two certifications and $300 was taken from the top [of my pay check]. I’m still making the same amount I was making even after moving up in my certification.”
Lonita Collier, director of business services for the district, said in her opinion there’s a misunderstanding with the teachers in the county. “Many of the teachers do not attend the board meeting so, they are not aware of what’s going on.”
Collier said when teachers move up in their certifications, increases will not be reflected in their paychecks until the next school year.
School Board member Jessie Goree told the media that they board could give teachers pay raise if the multimillion-dollar contract with the Clayton County Sheriff's Office to provide student resource officers, was eliminated.
Another teacher for the school system, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said teachers are already being overworked and underpaid.
“It’s ridiculous,” said the veteran teacher. “We already have to pay for own supplies and with the cost of living increasing, it’s becoming more and more difficult. As teachers, we do a lot for the our students and this school system. We deserve a pay raise.”
Some of Clayton County Superintendent Edmond Heatley’s other proposed reductions, and how much they are expected to save, include: Eliminating eight positions in safety and security, and restructuring the School Resource Officer contract ($1.6 million); eliminating two positions in Human Resources ($331,551); eliminating four positions in professional learning ($887,508); and adding five instructional days to the school-year calendar ($15.4 million).
The board is expected to make a final vote on the budget June 25.