Superintendent Manny Caulk responding to low performing schools
A minimum $14,000 of additional pay is being offered to teachers willing to work at Lexington’s new Promise Academies which would feature a longer school day and year, according to an announcement on the Fayette County Public Schools website.
“Make a difference in children’s lives! Be the change that a child needs! Receive an excellent compensation package for this important mission,” the district website said in advertising positions at William Wells Brown and Harrison Elementary schools. “This opportunity provides a compensation package in accordance with the longer school day and longer school year” that the school is planning pending Kentucky Department of Education approval.
The academies, expected to open this fall, will provide “the extra time needed to deepen student learning through active engagement,” the website said.
The estimated average teacher salary for those currently working at Fayette schools is $59,468.
Last month, district officials announced a proposal that called for William Wells Brown Elementary to join Harrison Elementary in extending school hours on four days each week and adding more days to the academic year, from 177 to 190.
William Wells Brown and Harrison are among seven Fayette County elementary schools with low statewide test scores that the Kentucky Department of Education has determined is in need of comprehensive support and improvement -- and a turnaround plan. But they are the only two of the CSI elementary schools at this point where an alternative calendar is being proposed.
In addition to longer days and an extended academic year, the Promise Academy model calls for enrichment activities and movement breaks, more mentoring of students, longer basic academic classes such as math and reading, and increased focuses on social studies, science, world languages, arts, robotics, computer lab, and physical education.
“Employees in our promise academies will be working a longer school day and a longer school year, so paying them more is just the right thing to do,” Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk said Wednesday. “Our goal is to attract talented educators who see the possibilities in every child and want to be a part of this exciting endeavor. Education is a civil rights issue and we owe it to our students to deliver on the promise of being a part of the American dream.”
Fayette County Education Association President Jessica Hiler said her group had conversations with Caulk and members of the school board about the issue to explain that “we believe that anytime that teachers are required to work additional hours and days, they should be compensated for their time.”
“We strongly encouraged them to compensate employees for time outside of their regular work calendar. We believe that any time, not just in this instance, teachers should be compensated for extra time and days worked,” Hiler said.
The Promise Academy proposal has raised some questions. Teachers are concerned about how the longer days and academic year would impact their job, Fayette County school board member Tyler Murphy has said.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, an anti-charter school group called Save Our Schools Kentucky said to “be on the lookout” for schools to be converted to charter schools in Fayette County and pointed to the Promise Academy model. But Caulk told the Herald-Leader that there was no truth to the allegation that Harrison and William Wells Brown were being converted to charter schools.
“The answer emphatically, directly, is no,” Caulk said.
The Kentucky General Assembly approved legislation allowing charter schools in 2017 but none have opened. People who hoped to open the schools said they have been stalled because the legislature has not approved a funding mechanism for charters.