it's a deal

Principals to see raises, backpay and career-ladder positions in new contract

PHOTO: Geoff Decker

The city’s principals and assistant principals will receive raises, retroactive pay and new incentives to work in low-performing schools under a tentative contract agreement between the city and Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, that will also offer bonuses to principals for short-term takeovers of struggling schools.

A nine-year, $891 million deal would increase pay by 18 percent by 2019 through raises paid out in seven increments, city officials said. It also includes an agreement to find nearly $150 million in savings on health care plans. CSA members would see an immediate 2 percent raise, but most would not come until 2017 and 2018, a cost-saving measure to which other municipal unions, including the United Federation of Teachers, have also agreed.

In addition, more than 2,000 CSA members who had been promoted from teachers to administrators since 2009 will receive $120 million in backpay and raises that the city originally argued they were not eligible for.  The issue became a sticking point in negotiations and both sides entered mediation to settle the dispute two weeks ago.

In the resulting agreement, the city and the union will split the $120 million cost of those payments. The city will pay $72 million, and the rest will come in savings by delaying when CSA members will receive some of their raises.

(See the scheduled dates for when principals and APs will see each raise and retroactive payments)

“I don’t recall anything like this,” said Robert Linn, the city’s chief labor negotiator, of the cost-sharing maneuver.

Members would also receive a $1,000 cash bonus once the deal is ratified.

Like the United Federation of Teachers deal struck earlier this year, the contract also creates new positions that provide additional pay for assistant principals and principals who take on additional responsibilities.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he intended to use the positions to incentivize administrators with proven experience in improving low-performing schools to work in struggling schools, including ones that are part of his Renewal Schools program. Those “ambassador” principals and assistant principals, brought in to fill vacancies or take struggling schools, will receive $15,000 and $10,000 and have the option to return to their original schools after one year.

That arrangement mirrors the one offered to Michael Wiltshire, the new principal of Boys and Girls High School, earlier this year.  It is also similar to the executive principal program introduced in 2008 as a way to draw seasoned principals to ailing schools, though that strategy had largely been abandoned just by 2010. (The executive principal role also required a longer commitment from school leaders.)

The new contract agreement also creates the roles of “master” and “model” principals and assistant principals, who will get raises in return for mentoring other school leaders.

“It’s a pretty common-sense idea,” de Blasio said at the union’s leadership conference on Saturday, where the deal was first announced.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.