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City Schools of Decatur hires 11 full-time substitute teachers

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City Schools of Decatur hires 11 full-time substitute teachers

The Decatur School Board met on Dec. 14 to discuss the mid-year budget amendment and the staff salary and benefits compensation report. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — City Schools of Decatur has hired 11 full-time substitutes amid a shortage of substitute teachers in the district, and across the country. The City Schools of Decatur School Board, at its Dec. 14 meeting, approved the funding request as part of the personnel report and the mid-year budget amendment, which increases the general fund expenses by $443,000.

“Those are full-time subs that go to the schools every single day to fill in if teachers are out of the classroom,” Superintendent Maggie Fehrman said. “We had to reallocate some funds from the general fund to pay the salaries of those substitute teachers because we did hear the need from our teacher advisory council on how hard it is to get subs and to get coverage.”

Fehrman has started pulling weekly teacher attendance and on average, there is a significant number of classrooms that don’t have coverage by a substitute.

“There is a sub shortage across the nation, and we have been impacted by that,” she said. “We’ve looked at our sub daily rate. It’s very competitive. Subs report that they love working in Decatur. Our kids our great. It’s a good school system. I think it’s just there’s not a lot of people out there wanting to substitute teach right now.”

This year, the district additionally began paying teachers $25 if they give up one of their planning periods to cover classrooms.

The district proposed to hire 12 full-time substitutes, one for each elementary school, and two for the middle and high schools. The budget request is for $288,000 to cover the cost with benefits for the substitutes. This expenditure is included in the FY22 budget.

The budget amendment also includes a $75,000 request to cover the cost of personal protective equipment supplies for the remainder of the year. The current budget did not include funds for additional PPE, and the current inventory is dwindling. The request is for adult and youth face masks and filters for about 100 air purifiers.

CSD has additionally received invoices from the city of Decatur for stormwater drainage. The district is requesting adding $80,000 to the budget to cover the stormwater costs. In total, the school system will pay $160,000 to the city for stormwater drainage for 2020 and 2021, as CSD was not billed for the service last year. The invoice is calculated based on impervious square footage of district properties, according to the agenda packet.

— In other business, the School Board discussed a compensation comparison analysis of staff salary and benefits and how the school system’s total compensation compares to other school districts.

The districts CSD used for comparison include large and medium-sized districts that may not be directly comparable by enrollment numbers, but are located near CSD and have similar average daily attendance, according to the report.

School used for comparison include Atlanta Public Schools, DeKalb County Schools, and Marietta City Schools, among others.

The report includes data on annual salary, benefits, social security contribution and any additional paid benefits. The report provides an analysis of the total compensation for each benchmark certificated non-management, classified non-management and management job classification compared to other districts, the document states.

“We looked at principals, we looked at assistant principals, and we rank ordered them based on salary,” Fehrman said. “We also looked at teachers. I was very encouraged with teacher salary, showing that we are compensating our teachers fairly competitively within the district.”

The teacher comparative data includes information on fringe benefits paid by each district and their contribution to social security to reflect a total rewards compensation package, according to the report.

CSD ranks fifth for the compensation of teachers classified 6th year/ T5, whose total rewards compensation is about $59,600. DeKalb County Schools holds the top spot with the total rewards being about $67,200, which includes additional paid benefits but not social security.

In terms of teachers classified as 10th year/ T5, CSD ranks fifth with total rewards being about $64,600. DeKalb County Schools ranks No. 1 with total rewards at about $71,800. Marietta City Schools is ranked second with the total rewards at about $70,500. Cobb County Schools is third with about $68,000 in total rewards, and Atlanta Public Schools is fourth with about $65,000 in total rewards.

CSD is third for teachers classified as 15th year/ T5 and has a total rewards of about $72,900. DeKalb County Schools is ranked first with total rewards at about $77,700 and Marietta City Schools is second with total rewards at about $75,300.

To see the full analysis, click here.

“There is some area for growth, particularly when it comes to some of our non-management classified positions, such as administrative assistant and paraprofessionals,” Fehrman said.

The district ranks below the median total compensation for most of the job classifications. Of the 11 job classifications looked at in the report, four are above or equal to the median total compensation and six are below. The four job classifications below the media compensation are elementary, middle and high school principals, elementary assistant principal, administrative assistants and paraprofessionals, the report states.

— The School Board and others also thanked board members Heather Tell and Lewis Jones for their service as they step down from the board. The district also held a reception for Tell and Lewis before the board meeting.

School Board Chair Tasha White shared her gratitude for Tell’s heart to serve and for being the vice chair.

“I couldn’t ask for a better support role in you, Heather,” White said. “We went through some pretty hard times, some pretty challenging times, but as I mentioned earlier, you are incredibly encouraging.”

Tell added that serving on the school has been an awesome responsibility and said that serving on the board has deepened her appreciation for public education and everything that the schools do for children.

“The hardest part about finishing my term here as a board member is that our work is never done and that’s often the hardest part about serving, is the job that you could do 24/7, and it would never be done,” Tell said. “But I’m confident that our new board members are going to come on and that our board is going to remain strong and good work will continue. I thank the community for your trust in me, and it’s been a great honor to serve.”

Board member James Herndon added that Tell’s thoughtfulness and thoroughness was often inspiring. He also thanked Lewis for giving his time and expertise to the city.

Tell additionally thanked Lewis for his service and said she appreciated how much he gave of himself, how he spoke from his heart and said things as they were.

Lewis said it’s been a pleasure to serve on the board and the experience has been a joy, even when it’s a hard job.

“It’s been great. It’s going to continue to be great. We are confident that we have gotten the best out of Decatur, but it’s only getting better,” Jones said. “It’s wonderful to be a part of it and to have been allowed to be a part of it, so I thank everybody for their support. I know you all are going to continue to strive to get better and better.”

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