Last summer, I wrote about a series of briefs released by Public Impact, an education policy and management-consulting firm, that detailed some ways schools could potentially alter their staffing models to boost teachers' pay without increasing existing school budgets. Now, through a contract with Project L.I.F.T., a public-private school improvement partnership, the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based organization helping to bring some of those staffing models to life in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.
As part of a pilot program called the Opportunity Culture Initiative, Project L.I.F.T. is creating a variety of new job roles for pre-K-8 teachers at four schools in that district based on the Public Impact model. Those roles include:
- Multi-Classroom Leader 1, who leads one to four teachers, including specifying their teaching roles and working collaboratively with them to improve their instruction. This teacher is fully responsible for the progress of these teachers' 50 to 400 students, and receives a supplement of $16,109 in addition to his or her district salary.
- Multi-Classroom Leader 2, who leads four or more teachers (as indicated above) and oversees more than 400 students. The salary supplement is $23,002.
- Blended-Learning Teacher, who teaches multiple classes at once, using a mix of digital and face-to-face learning. The salary supplement is $9,205.
- Expanded-Impact Teacher, who teaches multiple classes at once by rotating students between him or herself and a paraprofessional. The salary supplement is also $9,205.
- Specialized Elementary Teacher, who teaches only math/science or language arts/social studies, depending on his or her expertise. The salary supplement is $4,702.
According to Public Impact, teachers have responded in droves to the call for applications for the 2013-14 school yearwith 708 teachers already having applied for 26 positions. Dan Swartz, the human capital strategies specialist for Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, said that depending on how things play out, that number may be closer to 22 positions.
We've been digging into issues around teacher leadership and hybrid roles quite a bit over the last few monthsand can't say we're surprised that so many teachers are interested in these new jobs. The recent MetLife Survey of the American Teacher found that 51 percent of teachers are at least somewhat interested in taking on hybrid roles that combine classroom teaching and other responsibilities, and 23 percent are "extremely" or "very" interested. And in our recent Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable on the topic, our teacher-bloggers dreamed up some interesting new roles that would give teachers chances to lead inside and outside the classroom.
At the same time, the job descriptions for the new Charlotte-Mecklenburg positions may play into some of the "serious concerns" that teachers' unions have when it comes to restructuring positions in schools, as discussed in my previous piece on the staffing models.
In an interview, Swartz of CMS explained that the new positions will be "cost-neutral," and that principals will have autonomy in how they apportion their staffing budgets. So there is a possibility that full-time positions could be cut to make room for the higher paying hybrid positions. But Swartz emphasized that principals could also choose to decrease paraprofessionals or non-teaching positions to stay within the budget.
He added that "all the design teams in Opportunity Culture schools had teachers on them," and that so far teachers have been "very excited" about the changes. While there's some anxiety about what the new model will look like, he said, there's been little pushback. It's worth noting, however, that North Carolina is a non-collective-bargaining state.
"The only downside we've heard is that teachers don't know all the details," Swartz said. "We tell them we're piloting, it's not like this is old hat. ... We can't tell you exactly what it will look like because it hasn't been done yet."