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State cuts compensated in teacher contracts
The state may have passed a 1.9 percent cut in its funding to local school districts, but Sumner teachers will be compensated for the loss in furlough days and an annual stipend.
The balancing act came as part of the teacher contracts ratified in September and voted in by the school board Oct. 12. The contract additionally maintains each teacher's daily planning time and class size, introduces professional development opportunities, and conforms employee evaluation criteria to new statewide standards.
In a release sent to media outlets, Superintendent Craig Spencer praised teachers commitment to continue teaching students even as contracts continued to be hashed out in the negotiation process. He said discussions resulted in "a fair contract for teachers despite challenging budget issues."
The contract team calculated the 1.9 percent loss of state funding in terms of actual financial compensation lost to teachers and determined that it represented 3.4 work days—per school year—worth of pay. Teachers will receive two compensatory furlough days, with the remaining 1.4 days being paid as an annual stipend. Teachers will receive a check for $258 this school year, and another for $518 next year. The funding for the stipends will come from existing accounts and not new money, district spokesperson Ann Cook said.
Teachers will also have broader use of benefits, notably extended leave benefits for maternity, paternity and adoption.
Teachers lost state Learning Improvement Days, which will be balanced out through student waiver days and late starts. On those days, teachers will have opportunities for professional development, to be determined. That will bring the school year down to 177 days, from 180.
Leadership development will also be offered through the district's internally developed Teacher Leader Program.
New state evaluation criteria kick in this school year. The pilot program requires educators to submit loosely defined evidence of classroom accomplishments and self-declared goals for professional growth.
"Teachers get to define what the evidence of their accomplishments is," Cook said. "Evidence is really important, because it's not focused on just teachers' and students' standardized test scores."
In order to promote stability, new teachers will not be subject to involuntary transfers between campuses during their first three years with the district.