Thursday, December 27, 2012

Governor's Educator Fairness Act and 2% Salary Increase

Earlier this month the Governor announced his “All Students” initiative.  Included in that initiative were the “The Educator Fairness Act” and a 2% salary increase for teachers and other instructional personnel.  The Educator Fairness Act retains continuing contract for qualifying teachers, but it ties the grant of continuing contract to satisfactory performance reflected on annual formal performance evaluations.  The evaluation instrument will have to be consistent with the evaluation instrument approved by the Board of Education.  Other noteworthy aspects of the Act are an extension of the probationary period from 3 to 5 years and a streamlining of the grievance procedure.  The extension of the probationary period is viewed as a benefit to both the teachers and the administrators because it will afford teachers more time to demonstrate their mastery of standards covered by the evaluation, including student academic progress, and it will give administrators more time to work with probationary teachers.  It is not unusual for principals and superintendents to ask whether they can extend a teacher’s probationary period so that they can work with the teacher rather than have to make the decision whether to recommend non-renewal or to grant continuing contract status.  Extending the probationary period is not permitted under the current law.  It is even more important now that student academic progress is required to be a significant factor in a teacher’s evaluation.  The streamlining of the grievance procedure as it relates to dismissals will benefit both teachers and the school system by ensuring that the matter resolved in a timely fashion.  Currently, it can take 60 or 90 days or even longer for a recommendation of dismissal to come before the school board for its consideration.  This delay is due mainly to the fact-finding panel procedure in the current grievance procedure.  The Act ensures that a recommendation of dismissal will be before the school board no longer than 50 days after it was initially made by giving the school board the option of either hearing the matter directly or appointing a hearing officer to make a record of the hearing that will be presented to the school board for its consideration.  It is important to note that the 2% raise for instructional personnel is contingent on the General Assembly passing The Educator Fairness Act.