Opinion
Education Opinion

Money, Money, Money, Money

By Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D. — November 14, 2007 1 min read

I was feeling pretty good about the salaries we are paying our teachers. The salary schedule was based upon the Recovery School District’s (RSD) salaries for 2006 – 2007. We added an additional $2,375 raise for certified teachers and $1,000 for other degreed personnel which the state granted in July. It was topped off with a potential $1,000 for teachers who participated in the two week pre-opening activities. It was a great deal for teachers because the RSD salaries were already among the highest paid in the state.

Last week, we submitted our plan for the Hurricane Educator Assistance Program. This fund is reserved as bonuses and incentives to recruit and retain certified staff. Our plan will pay each certified teacher a $500 bonus at the end of each semester for three years. If the teacher relocated to New Orleans from within the state and moved 50 miles or more, we will pay up to $1,000 for moving expenses. Additionally, we have a Pay-for-Performance plan that can earn each teacher $1,000 extra per year for three years. This plan includes activities, leadership roles, attendance to professional developments, and sponsorship of school clubs and community events. Sounds good, right?

One of our teachers forwarded RSD’s latest bulletin to me and took the wind out of my sails. On December 7th any teacher, assistant principal, or principal who worked in an RSD-operated school last year and returned for 2007-08 will receive a whopping $5,000 bonus!

We have nine (9) teachers who have to be wondering whether they made the right decision to transfer from the RSD schools where they worked last year to our charter school. What pot of gold does RSD have to pay these huge bonuses to hundreds of teachers? It’s not that I think they don’t deserve it; their jobs are some of the toughest in the new educational landscape. But, our teachers deserve as much as anyone. If this keeps up, we will soon be in a serious bidding war for teachers.

I think our teachers appreciate the things we do to show how much we value them. But there’s an old saying that starts, “Money talks and . . . . When I talk to the staff on Thursday at the Staff Discussion Meeting about how much we appreciate their hard work, I’m not sure who will be listening.

The opinions expressed in Starting Over: A Post-Katrina Education are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.