Decatur City Schools will participate in a new statewide program starting with the upcoming school year in which math and science teachers in grades 6-12 who meet certain requirements could earn up to an additional $20,000 a year, with another $5,000 available at three of the system's schools.
Gov. Kay Ivey last month signed into law the Teacher Excellence and Accountability for Mathematics and Science (TEAMS) Act, which provides the enhanced pay structure to attract highly qualified middle and high school math and science teachers to Alabama schools.
The additional $5,000 supplement is for math and science teachers in schools that are deemed to be hard to staff by the Alabama State Department of Education. According to Decatur City Schools, the district has three schools that fall into that category: Austin Junior High, Austin Middle and Decatur Middle.
Each district statewide may employ one TEAMS math and one TEAMS science teacher for every 105 students in grades 6-12. As a result, Decatur City Schools will have 44 TEAMS math and 44 TEAMS science positions, said Superintendent Michael Douglas. The amount of additional TEAMS pay will depend on a teacher's experience and degree.
“I think the real impact you’ll see is a decade from now” as more students enroll in post-secondary teacher education programs for math and science, Douglas said.
Participating educators are required to give up the option of tenure that would otherwise be available to them.
“I don’t foresee us filling every single slot,” Douglas said. “Some people will not want to pay to get the certifications. Some people will not want to give up tenure. Some people will not want to do a three- or five-year contract.”
The Decatur school board on Tuesday approved a TEAMS job description and salary schedule for the district, which will be posted on the DCS website. Prospective teachers will need to apply for the math and science positions via the TeachinAlabama website.
Prospective teachers may can apply for a TEAMS position based on the following criteria:
• Teachers must hold a valid Alabama professional educator certificate or alternate certificate in middle level math or science, or secondary math, science or computer science;
• Teachers must teach full-time approved math and/or science courses in grades 6-12 with the appropriate certificate endorsements; and
• Teachers must currently hold or plan to obtain an Advanced Credential from either the National Institute for STEM Education or National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification in math or science.
The program will cost an estimated $100 million a year, part of the state’s $7.6 billion education budget for 2022.
State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey, a former middle school science teacher, said in a release last month that TEAMS will be a powerful recruitment tool beyond state lines. “With the focus on a technology-based economy for the future of Alabama, this new pay scale provides a unique recruiting opportunity for Alabama’s schools,” Mackey said.
At its meeting, the school board approved a second amended budget for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, which shows a deficit budget of $2.5 million. The school system started the current fiscal year with a $4.9 million deficit.
According to Mandi Jones, the chief schools financial officer, the district will receive $1.2 million for its share of online sales taxes as a result of the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling last month that the bulk of those taxes received by the Morgan County Commission must be turned over to the county’s three school districts.
“Due to the pandemic, we thought other tax revenue would come in lower, but it did not,” Douglas said. “That’s why revenue was higher than projected.”
Douglas said that “a deficit budget was planned” so the school district could do “what was best for our students in a pandemic year.” The biggest expense resulted from hiring extra teachers, staff, aides and interventionists to provide in-person, virtual and blended options, he said.
“We’re still in good financial shape,” Douglas said, adding that the district now has 2.2 months of expenses in reserve funding. State law requires it to have at least one month of reserve funding.
Douglas said a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 will probably be approved by the board in August. “We’ll have a balanced budget come fall,” he said.