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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Following the money in Hillsborough: Those extra teachers

The Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association returns to the bargaining table on Monday

MARLENE SOKOL | Times

The Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association returns to the bargaining table on Monday

Surely you don't think the Hillsborough County Public Schools have too many teachers. Not if your child is in kindergarten in south county, anyway.

But the Gibson Consulting Group found that, relative to other comparable districts, Hillsborough has a surplus of 1,030. 

So where are they?

Consultant Greg Gibson said he could not speak with a reporter, as the School Board has not yet adopted the draft document. We therefore could not question him about his methodology.

As reported earlier, Superintendent Jeff Eakins is already moving to school-wide averages, as is now allowed under the law, to calculate teaching assignments. His predecessor, MaryEllen Elia, held more strictly to the state limits.

But, in combing through the payroll lists, it is easy to find teaching positions that fall outside the typical notion of, say, a second grade classroom teacher.

We looked at 14,980 jobs whose descriptions were clearly in the teaching field; excluding guidance counselors, school psychologists, teachers aides and social workers, even though they are represented by the same labor union.

Our total teacher payroll for the 2015-2016 school year was $739 million (our numbers do not include benefits, so they cannot be easily compared to the Gibson dollar amounts).

Within those 14,980 jobs were 1,686 that are a form of teaching, but include elements of coaching, counseling, curriculum design and administration. These quasi-teaching jobs represented $92 million, or 12 percent of the teacher money. They also are somewhat highly paid, earning an average of $55,000 a year while teachers as a whole earned $49,000.

Examples include two kinds of resource teachers: those who work in the schools with students and teachers, and those who work in district offices. It included English as a Second Language resource teachers and Exceptional Student Education specialists, who have supervisory duties but also teach children.

Academic intervention specialists, dropout prevention specialists and success coaches have roles that are closer to those of counselors.

Media specialists teach children, but in the media center. There are teachers on special assignment, teacherpreneurs and 265 peer mentors and evaluators, a holdover from the Gates experiment. (The peer evaluator position is being discontinued. But the mentoring  program is being expanded, and there will soon be a hybrid job that combines teaching and mentoring).

These are the biggest groups: Site resource teachers (295), peer mentors and evaluators (265), subject area coaches (255), media specialists (222) and district resource teachers (147). Smaller groups include teacherpreneurs, teachers on special assignment and lead teachers in the magnet schools.

A few other caveats: Some of these positions are paid from federal grants, which is important because Gibson is looking at the largest source of money, the state's general fund. And it goes without saying that some -- the success coaches, for example -- represent intiatives in the district to reduce racial disparities in achievement and boost the high school graduation rate.

Much of this could be fodder for discussion as the teachers' union and district prepare for their next bargaining session on Monday. To prepare, the School Board scheduled a closed-door session on Friday in-between high school graduations.

In the last round of bargaining, which dragged on until the winter bargainings, the district held firm that it could not raise teacher pay because money was tight.

This year could be different. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday, Chief of Staff Alberto Vazquez said that was once a $110 million operating deficit has been greatly reduced, and the district is on track to end the fiscal year with a balanced budget. 

 

 

 

[Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2016 3:15pm]

    

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