A teacher delivering high quality instruction and nurturing positive relationships with students is critical to every child’s success. Ensuring we have the best teachers in every classroom is a key component of our system’s strategic plan.
The FY19 budget is my 7th budget as a member of the FCPS team. In the early years, the budgets were always restricted by maintenance of effort funding that made it virtually impossible to honor the negotiated salary scale agreement. One year, our Board of Education agreed to increase class size in an effort to provide a step increase for our teachers. It became clear that our pay scale was not sustainable, and even worse, the salary for first-year teachers was the lowest in the state. Something needed to be done.
Changing the pay scale for teachers could only happen with a shared vision and collaboration among our Board of Education, FCPS staff, and the Frederick County Teachers Association (FCTA.) The shared vision was the easy part. Everyone could agree that we wanted to recruit and retain excellent teachers—and pay is an important incentive. Everyone could also agree that we needed to find a way to reward teachers for professional growth as well as find ways to support teacher leadership.
With the vision clear, the next challenge was figuring out how to modify our pay scale. I will not go into all of the details, but it was truly a team effort! Hours were spent reviewing data, discussing options, and determining the costs. The result was a pay scale that improved starting-teacher salaries, had a steeper slope for the first half of a teacher’s career, offered 5 lanes that rewarded professional growth and provided opportunities for designing leadership positions later, and was more affordable annually. I am incredibly proud of everyone who worked so hard to make this pay scale a reality!
The next hurdle comes when transitioning from one pay scale to another, particularly when teachers had been bunched onto steps during years when no increment was given. We knew the cost to transition was going to be steep for several years, but the long term goals of the new pay scale were worth it. Fortunately, the County Executive and many County Council members agreed, and we have now fully funded 2 years of a 4-year transition plan.
The FY19 budget presents challenges, and there are many competing needs. I believe the commitment to continue the transition to the new pay scale is commendable. The collaborative vision that led to this new pay scale remains strong. The way it supports teachers is clear, and that ultimately makes it important to our students as well. That’s why it matters!
What are your thoughts on how teachers are compensated for their work? Share them with me on Twitter @FCPSMDSuper. And whether or not you agree with this post, if you enjoyed it, please feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter.