SUBSTITUTE TEACHER SPEAKS OUT!

Posted August 3, 2011 by nowchangethis
Categories: MCCSC Sub Teachers Unite!

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MCCSC SCHOOL BOARD MEETING PUBLIC COMMENTS (2 August 2011)
Remarks Delivered by David Wierhake, MCCSC Substitute Teacher

My name is David Wierhake. I am an actor, musician, and songwriter, and I’m a veteran substitute teacher ‘employed’ by MCCSC. I am here to speak out on behalf of all substitute teachers within this school system.

Many of you may recall that I appeared before the Board in February of this year. The topic of my discussion was that the day rate for substitute teachers has remained flat for the past decade while there have been incremental annual pay increases for both staff and teachers alike. I also referred to the national average pay rate for sub teachers to be approximately $105 for a full day according to the National Substitute Teachers Alliance. (For the record I would like to include the Substitute Teacher Bill of Rights from the NSTA as part of my statement.) The Board seemed mildly surprised saying that, “That’s interesting. No one has brought this issue to our attention before.” With all due respect to the Board member who suggested someone take on this issue as a “graduate student thesis” or the like, intimating that it might be outside the interest of the MCCSC School Board, I would say that this issue is not some pet educational exercise, but a real life issue involving people like me, who not only depend on supplemental income from sub teaching, but who thrive within the educational system.

Upon learning that the new school year would be extending the teaching day in elementary, middle, and high schools by approximately one hour, I contact School Board President Jim Muehling via email regarding pay adjustment for sub teachers to compensate us for the additional hour of our time. Everyone is in agreement—from Peggy Chambers to our new superintendent Judy DeMuth—that the school system could not function without sub teachers, and, quoting Superintendent DeMuth from an HT Online Chat in response to my sub teachers pay rate query, “Our substitute teachers have a most difficult job and are extremely important to us.” Mr. Muehling and I—and I’m including copies of our email discussions for the record, and, everyone on the Board received electronic copies of our discourse—engaged in thoughtful discussion concerning a pay increase for subs. From my perspective, IF you extend our working day by an hour, based on our past pay rate of $60/day non-certified and $70/day certified, an additional $10 would be added to said day rates e.g. $70 and $80 respectively. Mr. Muehling considered such a pay increase to be out of the question and made a ‘apples and oranges’ comparison between sub teachers and licensed/union teachers—who receive healthcare and retirement benefits and paid summers off—saying that teachers only got a 1% pay raise. From Mr. Muehling’s perspective it’s, “…in a university community we are in a position to secure an educated and talented substitute pool which plays some role in the law of supply and demand.” rather than the ‘law’ of fairness and morality.

Unfortunately, during our continued discussion Mr. Muehling lost his ‘virtual temper’ in response to my usage of the phrase “dear sir” to punctuate my point. He immediately became ‘Judge, Jury, and Executioner’ regarding any further discussion on this issue, and even donned the hat of ‘career counselor’. Please allow me to quote Mr. Muehling:

“If the compensation is such that it is beneath the time and energy you devote to the task, I personally do strongly and quite emphatically urge you to seek another line of work. Suggesting the feasibility of a 15.4% increase is ludicrous in the mildest of descriptions…”dear sir”. End of discussion.

Such a response in my mind is totally unbecoming of an elected official, an official who supposedly leads MCCSC. I hope that at the end of my remarks, Mr. Muehling can somehow shed some light on his comments.

According to Patti Sparks, substitute teacher coordinator, and our new superintendent, the pay rate for sub teachers will remain the same, or in other words, sub teachers will be getting a dock in pay. As this new budget or budgets come under discussion, I strongly urge the Board to find it within their hearts to work whatever financial magic they can and increase the day rate for sub teachers to compensate this talented yet silent pool of teachers who keep our schools running.

Thank you.

David Wierhake

p.s. Here is the coverage from WFIU radio regarding the substitute teacher ‘pay cut’ and according to School Board President, “Our first concern are the folks that are on staff now, our certified personnel as well as our support folks.” Support folks? The school system could NOT function without the ‘support folks’ e.g. substitute teachers. Spread the concern and include substitute teachers in the corporation’s financial decisions!
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Though next year’s Monroe County Community School Corporation budget is greater than last year’s, some part-time personnel are concerned because newly-extended school days don’t equate to more dollars. During a meeting Tuesday, MCCSC substitute teacher David Wierhake urged the budget committee to increase substitute teachers’ pay. He said after being with the corporation for a decade, his pay has remained flat. He says an additional hour of work each day should equal more cash.

“The rate is $60 for non-certified [teachers] and $70 for certified. So if you add an additional $10 on just to stay flat — not even addressing the fact that there’s been no pay increase for the past ten years — and I feel that we need to be validated for the sacrifices we make as well as the quality that we put into our time in educating the students in our community.”

School board president Jim Muehling said decreased funding from the state means it’s difficult enough to find funding for full time staff, so part-time employees will have to wait.

“Our first concern are the folks that are on staff now, our certified personnel as well as our support folks,” Muehling said. “Fortunately being in a community such as Bloomington with Indiana University there is a large number of folks that are interested in being substitute teachers. And so unfortunately we can not address that increase at this point in time.”

MCCSC Comptroller Tim Thrasher said this year’s general fund budget is just more than $65 million, a 1% increase over 2010. He said the corporation’s 2010 referendum brings in a little more than the corporation currently uses, but not so much that there’s disposable income or a need to ask for a lower tax rate.

“The referendum budget doesn’t use quite all of the $7.5 million that’s generated,” he said. “There’s still a fair amount of uncertainty about where we’ll be going in future years in terms of state support. So in terms of the recommendation in 2012, we will request the full 14.02 cent tax rate.

Thrasher said raises are expensive, adding the corporation values substitute teachers, but right now doesn’t have the budget to pay them more.

ABOUT THE REPORTER:

Shameka Neely, a native of Nashville, Tennessee enthusiastically joined WTIU as Senior Reporter/ InFocus Producer in the news department. Shameka previously worked at Western Kentucky University located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, as Coordinator for Minority Student Recruitment. In past years she has also, hosted a Public Affairs show entitled New Horizons at the ABC affiliate in Bowling Green. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational and Corporate Communication, with a minor in Marketing and Masters of Arts Degrees’ in Administrative Dynamics and Communication all from Western Kentucky University. She is also a proud member of Gamma Beta Phi, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.