Amid buyout offer, teachers to receive new career paths
About 3,200 of the Baltimore's veteran teachers received word of a deal last week that may have them heavily consider leaving the school system.
But, as of Monday, all teachers should have also received notice of another offer that would encourage them to stay.
Monday was the deadline for city school officials to send teachers their new, provisional career paths under the new Baltimore Teachers Union contract. The contract, ratified in December, introduced a new career ladder in the system that is designed to motivate teachers to achieve high statuses and make top dollars, based on proven effectiveness in the classroom and the pursuit of professional development and leadership opportunities in their schools. The career ladder, school and union officials said, was also intended to raise the salary ceiling for the most tenured teachers in the district.
How teachers will be able to climb the ladder has yet to be determined. A governance panel of city school and union representatives that will be charged with establishing that criteria, is also due to be announced this month.
But on Friday, the school system announced an unprecedented early retirement offer that would allow up to 750 of the city's most experienced teachers to commit early to retiring from the school system at the end of the school year. In turn, they would receive 75 percent of their current salary, spread out over five years (not each year), with the monthly payments paid into a city school investment plan. Those who take the buyout wouldn't receive health insurance or fringe benefits, but would still be eligible for their state retirement benefits.
The contract was sold on its promise to allow for newer teachers to move up in the district at their own pace--a faster pace, and allow veteran teachers to maximize their potential without stagnating in what they could do and earn. According to the contract, the strongest and most experienced teachers in the district would be making more than $100,000. (And note, everyone's starting out with more money due of the 2 percent raise all teachers received last year.)
It's hard to not wonder if the district strategically send out the buyout offer at the same time teachers were awaiting word of their new, prosperous career paths? In the last three years, only an average of 138 teachers have retired each year--factor in resignations, and that number is just over 200. That is surely not enough to yield the kind of savings that the school system is seeking with the buyout.
Many teachers say the early retirement deal seems too good to walk away from, especially for those who may have already been considering leaving the district.
But, it seems that if the contract's new career ladder fulfills its promise, many teachers will undoubtedly find themselves at a crossroads.