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A+PEL: Fighting for your Compensation

Monday, February 2, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Terri Olsen
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A+PEL has met with teachers throughout Louisiana,LEAs(parish school districts or independent school systems), and policymakers to address concerns regarding teacher pay.

Teachers deserve more! Too many people say that without following through!

There are challenges such as rising healthcare costs, state deficit, etc., but valuing and adequately compensating teachers has to be a priority.

Listed below is information that teachers need to know, that they simply aren’t being told. You can count on A+PEL to independently act in the interests of teachers. It is our plan to use these points to provide leverage and change the current conversation regarding educational finance to one in which leaders take responsibility and offer solutions, not excuses.

1.ACT 1 is not an excuseto shortchange teachers

In many LEAs, teachers are being told that the provisions of Act 1 are to blame for the removal of salary schedules and/or pay freezes. Some LEAs have used Act 1 as an excuse to abolish step increases or cost of living adjustments. In many cases teachers are being penalized,as the merit pay is normally less than a step increase.

You can read Act 1 here, with the salary section on page 8 of 14. At no point does ACT 1 abolish salary schedules. In fact, section C on page 8 specifically protects teacher salaries. Furthermore, ACT 1 does not abolish step increases based on experience or education/certification (demand) but only requires that effectiveness also be included. The act even prohibits evaluations from being the sole determinant of step increases, thus effective teachers should still be receiving an annual increase due to experience.

2.Next year, LEAs will see a 1-2% projected savings on teacher salaries

It is projected that the LEA contribution to TRSL will decrease from 28% to 26.3%.Notification (linked here) was sent to all LEAs in November of 2014, and the final approved rate will be finalized this spring.In other words, if LEAs keep their teacher salary budgets the EXACT same, they could potentially fund a 1.7% bonus/raise to all TRSL eligible employees next year.Shouldn’t teachers see some portion of this savings for all of their countless hours and efforts?This action does not require additional funding!

3.Some LEAs are finding innovative ways of increasing compensation

On a positive note, we found that many communities have supported their local schools by setting up funds specific to annual bonuses for teachers- often based on a portion of sales tax. Although these bonuses vary, they can become quite substantial. Many teachers have had questions on how these bonuses impact their retirement. Bonuses from “13th” or “sales tax” checksare considered in your retirement calculations. (So you may benefit from the bonus during the year and on future retirement earnings.)

LEAs can also apply for grants and include stipends for teachers performing additional tasks or attending trainings. These stipends are also calculated in your final retirement earnings. A+PEL has been partnering with LEAs to obtain additional funding for teacher training (with the inclusion of stipends).

4.Teachers need more information on educational finance and local funding.

Many teachers that we spoke to did not understand the calculation of the MFP, the 70% rule, and the distribution of funds to each school. The per-pupil allotment is sent by the State to each school LEA/charter organizer and at least 70% of those funds are to be sent directly to schools and school-based services.You can view a historical report from 2008 to 2013 on the 70% rule by clicking here.

Overall, the majority of LEAs are meeting or exceeding the 70% rule. There are a few outliers, both positive and negative. Specifically, the following LEAs sent more than 75% of their funding directly to schools in the 2012-2013 school year:Acadia, Allen, Ascension, Bienville, Bossier, Iberville, Livingston, Natchitoches, Rapides, Red River, St. Charles, St. James, Terrebonne, and Webster.These districts should be applauded for placing their funding priorities in the classroom.They went above and beyond the 70% standard.

In order to value teachers and compete with neighboring parishes, many LEAs are going to have to invest more money in their schools.However, it must be noted that each individual school does not have to receive the same amount of funding per student. LEAs may send more funding to certain schools, often in support of SPED or alternative programs.More information on school funding can be found here, in the LDOE’s financial library.

5. Finally, choose A+PEL over a traditional teacher union.

In our conversations with teachers, so many are unaware that they are paying nearly $50 per month for membership in a traditional teacher union (check your membership dues!).

A+PEL is a Louisiana-based, non-union, non-profit, independent association for teachers, with professional dues at $14.58 per month no matter what part of the state you reside. We offer $2 million in liability coverage, in-house legal representation/services, and a multitude of other benefits.Getting your benefits from A+PEL, instead of a union can mean a savings of hundreds of dollars per year! Give yourself a pay raise today, switch to A+PEL.

Please join online if you want to become involved in our association. We appreciate our nearly 7,000 educators and are always looking for amazing educators to join us!

Keith Courville Ed.S.

Executive Director


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