What’s the difference between a stipend and supplemental salary? Essentially none. So what’s the big deal? Word on the street is that there’s a group of disgruntled GPS employees who feel the current stipend policy is unfair. True or not? Who’s to know. For those who are still wondering, a stipend or supplemental salary is an amount of money typically earned by a teacher for performing duties above and beyond their normal job function. For example, if a High School math teacher also coaches the girl’s basketball team, he/she is eligible for an “augmentation” of their salary. The amount due to him/her is predetermined based on the category (A, B, C, D, and so on) that the position falls under as well and STEP value (number of years of service). At least, this is how it’s been explained to us by district staff who wish to remain anonymous.
PROBLEM: As we see it, there don’t appear to be any fixed metrics used to determine if a teacher should receive a stipend or not. In other words, how does one compare the job functions of say, a music teacher, to that of a core curriculum teacher. Or, as is the case of this particular problem, how does one compare the music teacher job description at the elementary level against that of the Junior High level? To be fair to the district, we were unable to reach the HR department for formal comment on how stipends are determined.
Current situation – What we do know is this. Over the last few years with teacher salary remaining fixed EXCEPT for elementary music teachers who lost their stipends all had been receiving prior to recent budget cuts, morale has been a bit low. Some reading this article may wish to remind teachers around the country that while they may not have received a raise over the past few years, a great many in the private sector are managing on significant cuts to their salaries. In fact, the average pay for GPS teachers is reported at over $48K plus benefits… How many are thinking that teaching is looking pretty good now? But that’s another subject…
Elementary teachers, right or wrong, received a stipend in addition to their base salary. The reason for the elimination of the pay was due to budget cuts a few years back. However, the reason now appears to have evolved. While budget constraints have not changed, the reason cited now is that there was nothing particularly “above and beyond” about the elementary music program that warranted a special stipend. Meanwhile, at the Junior High level, which has been accused of being no more or less rigorous than the elementary music program, teachers will still draw a stipend… and word is that this may change further if it hasn’t already to give stipends to those currently on staff in the music program, but not extend the benefit to new hires. Teachers are left scratching their heads and wonder “What gives?” and perhaps rightly so.
GSInfo makes no judgement here as not enough information is available. What we do acknowledge is: 1. The GPS music program at all levels from elementary to secondary, as well as other fine arts programs within GPS is of value to students, parents, and our community. 2. The same level of respect and valuation that is given to core curriculum should be extended to all staff no matter what the subject matter. Band directors, Art Instructors, auto-shop and other vocational instruction staff across the board are valued as they provide a very necessary component of education to our children who one day may draw on these areas of focus in order to make a living and support their families.
Several GPS staff and a number of supportive citizens are reported to be concerned enough about this aspect to voice their opinions and raise the awareness to the school board Tuesday night, May 24, 2011. We are officially taking no sides on this issue as there are valid arguments to be had from several different perspectives. We do acknowledge that this issue is a bit sticky and empathize with the district administration as just about any action taken is likely to gender hostility from one faction or another. Stay tuned for a follow-up to this as the issue unfolds.