SF Head Says Lack Of Teacher Help Linked To Compensation
The issues of dual enrollment courses and the proposed "double dipping" of payment for services were again brought to the forefront of last Tuesday's Southern Fulton School Board meeting when the district superintendent publicly went on the record in response to a recent letter to the editor.
Superintendent Ralph Scott quickly and pointedly answered a question posed by Karen Solomon, president of the Southern Fulton Education Association (SFEA), in a letter to the editor published by The Fulton County News on October 9. In the letter, Solomon asked "what was the problem" between the administration and the bargaining unit in determining whether college courses would be taught during school hours by existing staff or by an outside professional associated with Allegany College of Maryland (ACM).
Scott informed the board and those in attendance on October 21 the problem boiled down to "money."
In a document detailing 13 various points, Scott confirmed that the early college program got under way at Southern Fulton in 2005. Since that time, 24 students took college English, while 22 were enrolled in psychology before and/or after school hours.
Due to the low enrollment numbers, Scott stated the district wished to branch out in a new direction and offer classes during the schoolday to give a larger number of students the opportunity to enroll through ACM. In turn, the district, through ACM, would be reimbursed $2,100 for each class with the funding earmarked for class supplies or for the textbooks of participating students.
"The high school principal (Dr. Brett Gilliland) was approached in the spring of 2008 and informed that SFEA thought the teachers should be paid for teaching the course. However, this superintendent considered the concept as 'double dipping.' In checking with nearby dis- tricts, it was determined that teachers were not paid extra," Scott told the board.
Scott stated not long after the conversation with Gilliland, he received a message via e-mail April 21 from the PSEA UniServe representative stating, "The current position of SFEA is all terms and conditions of employment for dual enrollment instruction using SFEA teachers are bargained with the Association. Also ... 'compensation paid directly to the employee as in the past.' Finally ... 'There must be a signed memorandum of agreement with SFEA if SFEA instructors are to be utilized.'"
Scott mentioned the district's solicitor advised the administration not to respond to any type of proposal or to ask for volunteers from the teaching staff as it would be acknowledging the issue as negotiable. "I did not contact SFEA until a request for a meeting about several other items was made on May 14. On May 16, at my request, the issue of dual enrollment was identified as one of the issues. This is the 'second' request identified by the letter writer (Karen Solomon)," said the superintendent. "On May 19, the issue was discussed at the end of the meeting, but the SFEA president (Solomon) was told the district did not consider this a bargainable issue and would not bargain it because the teachers were already being paid salary and benefits by the taxpayers by that class period. However, if the SFEA could furnish proof that a number of other districts reimbursed their teachers with extra money, then the information would be considered. None has been provided," he added.
In spite of the fact that SFEA and the administration were not able to agree on the financial issue, ACM has brought in an instructor to teach 29 English students this fall during the course of the regular schoolday thereby topping former registration numbers recorded over multiple years.
"If the SFEA supported the dual enrollment program, it would encourage its members to volunteer and/or immediately put into writing it has no objection to the administration recruiting teachers to become adjunct professions for ACM in order to teach a dual enrollment class during the schoolday. At this point the district will continue to rely upon ACM faculty until/unless an SFSD teacher volunteers on his/her own," stated Scott.
"The problem: money," he concluded.