Teachers Rally for More Pay During Extended School Year Program

Teachers Rally for More Pay During Extended School Year Program

Pilot program at two elementary schools is designed to mitigate 'summer learning loss'

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About 80 people packed into Thursday night's Montgomery County school board meeting calling for renegoatiated teacher contracts at Arcola and Roscoe R. Nix elementary schools .

Caitlynn Peetz

Teachers from Arcola and Roscoe R. Nix elementary schools packed Thursday night’s county school board meeting and voiced frustration over what they believe are unfair contracts for working during a longer school year program.

“MCPS should sprint back to the negotiating table with (the teachers’ union) … and make the teachers feel heard, appreciated and respected,” said Michelle Perez, mother of a kindergarten student at Arcola. “Instead of feeling stressed, teachers should feel celebrated and supported as they embark on new exciting, innovating school year.”

About 80 people attended the meeting, clad in red to support the teachers at the two Silver Spring schools tabbed for the pilot that will add 28 days to their school year, holding signs that included “union busting is disgusting” and “our students deserve better.”

The two schools last year were chosen to test a program to add 30 days to the academic year in an effort to prevent “summer learning loss” and narrow achievement gaps between students from high- and low-income families.

Teachers are taking issue with contracts that outline how much additional pay educators and administrators will receive for the extra weeks of work.

Under the contract as negotiated, teachers will receive additional “regular pay” for the extra days of work along with a $2,000 stipend and one day of personal leave. Administrators, represented by a different union, will receive either $9,000 or $4,000 stipends depending on their position, and three additional days of personal leave.

While teachers are flustered about the different stipend amounts, school administrators argue that teachers will receive more  pay overall than principals.

School system leaders estimate teachers will receive an additional $12,800, on average, when “regular pay” and stipends are accounted for, while principals only receive stipends, with no additional salary pay.

No school system staff spoke about the issue Thursday, but board members said they appreciated teachers’ testimony.

The pilot is set to begin July 8 and the school year will continue through June 11, 2020. Regular classes for the 2019-2020 academic year start after Labor Day. School system leaders have said they hope to expand the program to other high-poverty schools.

Some teachers and parents from Arcola and Roscoe Nix questioned whether the the program is ready to be rolled out at all.

They pointed to unreliable air conditioning systems, how student transfers will be moved to the schools without interrupting learning, and a curriculum plan that is not yet fully developed.

“All of us in this room, believe in and are active stakeholders in this program and want nothing more than to see it succeed,” said Kara Boatman, a kindergarten teacher at Arcola. “We believe in our students, our school, the community and see the potential benefit for all parties involved. With minor modifications, and more attention to detail, MCPS will see a significant return on its investment.”

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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