On May 11, 2010, seven year round schools found out in a School Board meeting that they would be moving to a traditional calendar for the next year. The employees at those schools had just three months to figure out how to adjust for the lack of an August paycheck. The reason for the gap is that the final YR paycheck is July, and the first traditional paycheck is September. All of the employees at those seven schools were given the skip an August paycheck or taking their salary over 13 months for the 2010-11 school year. Three months was not enough time for employees to save to cover a no August paycheck, so the majority took the 13-month paychecks.
As a teacher at one of those seven schools and newly elected as JEA President, I started asking around at the district, trying to find someone who wanted to find a solution to the pay problems that stem from changing calendars. I spoke to the Director of Payroll, the Director of Accounting, the Business Administrator, the new Director of Payroll, and the new Business Administrator. Two of the seven schools that went traditional in 2010 have since returned to YR. With seven YR schools moving to a traditional calendar for 2015-16, two of those only being guaranteed traditional for two years, and the possibility of moving another school to traditional in 2016-17 with some possibly moving back to YR in 2017-18, employees at those schools asked the School Board to fix the pay issue that occurs when moving from YR to traditional or traditional to YR.
JEA negotiates what you are paid, but not how you are paid, so I was pleased to be invited to participate in looking for a way to solve the pay problems that occur when school calendars change. I met with John Larsen, Business Administrator, June LeMaster, Director of Human Resources, Sarah Palmer, Director of Payroll, and Chris Godfrey, UniServ Director for JESPA multiple times. We started by putting out any idea without worrying how it would impact the district or employees. From there, we looked at specific options, if they were viable, and how employees and the district would be impacted.
I presented preliminary ideas to YR JEA ARs at our meeting in February. The administration did not want to do a survey of all YR employees, because the School Board should see the plan first. When I spoke with the YR ARs, they understood the need for a transition plan, and really wanted five years to make the transition, so I pushed for that timeline. I went through the plan in detail with YR JEA ARs or their representatives at our meeting in March. I then made an effort to personally visit with every YR JEA AR who was not able to attend the March meeting within the two days following that meeting.
I understand the concerns of teachers at the 15 schools not currently moving to a traditional calendar. I have found that teachers at those 15 schools who have been through a calendar change before are more understanding and receptive to this transition plan. The School Board is allowing up to six months for people at the 15 schools to share additional ideas on how to solve the pay issues that come with changing calendars. You will receive a survey toward the end of May seeking those ideas. I encourage you to complete the survey and share your ideas for solving the pay issue.
As I met with teachers at some of the 15 schools, I put individual information into a spreadsheet I designed to look at the impact of a 13-month payout of your salary for the 2015-16 school year. The coming year is a good year for many employees, because we are receiving steps, lanes, and a 2% cost of living adjustment (raise) due to the two-year agreement JEA negotiated in 2014. For teachers receiving a step and 2%, the gross pay difference is less than $100 a month for 2015-16. While the School Board is still seeking another way to solve the pay issue, they are allowing those who want to transition to a traditional pay schedule in the 2015-16 school year may do so. All JEA ARs have been sent the spreadsheet. I am also happy to meet with JEA members individually or at a meeting for the school to help you see if the coming year is a good year for you.
In six months time, if another workable plan to fix the YR to traditional pay issue is not presented, the School Board will likely go back to the plan originally presented. Once you transition to a traditional pay schedule, you will have the freedom and flexibility to transfer to any school regardless of schedule or have your school change schedules and not have to worry about the pay implications with just a few months' notice. If teaching on a YR calendar but paid on a traditional pay schedule, your last paycheck when you leave the district will be August instead of July, allowing another month of health insurance coverage.
Please contact me if you have questions or would like me to come meet with you.