Some districts step up competition for neighbors' veteran teachers
To better compete in a time of shortage, a handful of districts have negotiated changes in their pay scales that are making it easier to recruit veteran teachers. Doing so isn’t adding to the overall teacher supply or winning friends in neighboring districts. But it is helping some districts solve a personnel crunch as well as provide broader job opportunities for experienced teachers.
The change in the rules is enabling districts to more closely match the pay of teachers who want to switch districts. Until now, teachers have been discouraged from transferring by a standard clause in most districts’ contracts that capped the number of years that a teacher would be credited as having worked for the purpose of determining their new pay. The cap had the practical impact of locking in employment of mid-career and older teachers.
Under the standard salary scale for unionized teachers, teachers receive annual “step” increases for each year they work and a boost in salary for education degrees and courses they take beyond their bachelor’s degree. But for transferring teachers, there has been a limit on the number of years – usually between six and 10 years – for which they would be given credit, depending on the district. So, for example, a teacher with 15 years experience earning $77,000 in one district would be credited for working the maximum 10 years and have to start at year 11, earning only $68,000.
In the past, districts liked the cap because it discouraged teachers from jumping ship after districts had invested in their training and served to contain costs, said San Jose Unified Deputy Superintendent Stephen McMahon. But a teacher shortage in some districts has prompted them to rethink hiring practices and to resort to signing bonuses, referral fees and housing subsidies.
Most districts’ teacher contracts already allowed districts to make exceptions to the pay scale to hire teachers for hard-to-fill positions, such as bilingual, special education and math teachers. San Jose Unified, the largest of 19 districts in high-cost-of-living San Jose, and Some districts step up competition for neighbors’ veteran teachers | EdSource: