Apparently when Pinellas school district officials said everything was on the table for budget cuts, they didn't mean everything. Among other things left off: Extra pay for teachers in four marquee high schools magnet programs. The "academic coaching supplements" have not been considered for cuts this year, even though they were targeted for elimination last year and surfaced this year on a budget-cutting suggestions list put together by principals.
The supplements - equal to 14 percent of a teacher's pay - have been given for years to teachers in four programs: the IB programs at St. Petersburg High and Palm Harbor University High, the CAT program at Lakewood and the PCCA at Gibbs. Last year, 93 teachers received the extra pay, at a total cost of $650,000. Individuals earned $5,181 to $8,971 each.
Superintendent Julie Janssen proposed cutting the supplements last year, but quietly backtracked after teachers, parents and even students mounted protests. They were outraged - but so were many teachers who don't receive the supplements and, in many cases, did not even know they existed.
At the time, Janssen said the supplements would continue to be a topic for discussion and future contract negotiations with the teachers union. So far this year, they have not been discussed at any school board meetings or workshops dealing with budget cuts.