Atlanta elementary teachers to get $3,000 stipend for longer work days

Atlanta Public Schools elementary teachers will receive a stipend next school year because they are expected to work 30 minutes longer each day. AJC FILE PHOTO

Atlanta Public Schools elementary teachers will receive a stipend next school year because they are expected to work 30 minutes longer each day. AJC FILE PHOTO

Atlanta elementary teachers will make an extra $3,000 next year for working 30 minutes longer each day.

The district plans to extend the elementary school day by half an hour for the next three years, starting in August. The goal is to provide more time for academic intervention to help students who have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic.

When APS officials first discussed the plan in April they said they were still working out how much salaried employees such as teachers, principals and instructional coaches would be paid for the extra time.

At a recent budget commission meeting, chief human resources officer Skye Duckett provided more information.

All salaried employees who work at elementary schools will receive $3,000 for each year of the three-year extended-day schedule, she said. The stipend will show up in employees’ regular paychecks.

As previously announced, hourly workers will be paid for the actual hours they work and receive overtime pay if they exceed 40 hours per week.

Confusion about compensation swirled after the district announced its plan to lengthen the elementary school day. Teachers who had already signed contracts for next year wanted to know how they would be paid for the additional work time.

About 2,000 people, including 325 teachers and staff members, signed a May 20 letter protesting schedule changes related to the intervention plan. It criticized the district for having teachers sign contracts before telling them about the new schedule.

“Especially after the incredible year we have just experienced, changes like this demonstrate a lack of value for our incredible teachers and will hurt teacher retention and morale,” states the letter.

Duckett said the district “has a longstanding and strong history of taking care of employees and taking care of pay.”

”We wouldn’t ask them to work the extended day without adequate compensation,” she told board members at the recent budget meeting.

The money to pay staff to work longer days will come from federal stimulus dollars, the district previously said.

The stipends are in addition to a $12 million teacher compensation package proposed for the budget year that begins July 1.

That plan, which the board is expected to approve next month, includes step raises based on years of experience as well as targeted increases for mid-career teachers and for those who work in special education and at high-poverty schools.

In April, the board approved a 2% raise for teachers and full-time employees.

The district is still working through how the longer elementary school day will impact school start times.

Superintendent Lisa Herring announced earlier this month that high schools would start 45 minutes earlier next year, at 7:45 a.m., because of transportation needs. Elementary schools would start at 8:30 a.m., instead of 8 a.m., but let out later in the afternoon.

After parents and students objected, Herring announced she would pause the start-time decision. The delay will give families a chance to fill out a survey to express their preference between two scheduling options.

Herring said she expects to give the board an update about the bell schedule on June 7.