Your Opinion: School Board Should Reconsider Substitute Pay Cut

Open letter to the Board of Education

Franklin-school-board-officeBy Mark Fitzgerald, Somerset

Dear Board Members;

For those present at the board meeting (Oct. 17), you heard from numerous substitute teachers in the district regarding a recent decision to reduce their daily per diem compensation.  The change for many caused their daily rate to be reduced from $110/day to $95/day or $85/day respectively.  This amounts to a 14 percent and 23 percent reduction, with very little advance notification.

Many of these substitutes have been with the district for many years and have become integral parts of the faculties of the schools in which they serve.  They are involved in and care about the students and level of education this town must provide.  The decision to make this reduction was not properly considered, nor was there an opportunity for community input or feedback from teachers, administrators, parents, and students.  You should be aware that many schools in the district are having difficulty filling absences and there have been shortages on many occasions.  These shortages wreak havoc on the administrators of the schools and disrupt classroom learning and effectiveness.

Additionally, this decision directly contradicts an official communication that went out prior to the 2012/2013 school year informing returning substitutes that should they work 120 days in that year that they would receive $110/day for the 2013/2014 school year.  It is highly likely this change of rate, given this previous letter, violates an agreement that was established and puts the town and board at risk of litigation over this matter.

You should also know that many of these substitutes are fearful to speak up regarding this matter for concern they will be “taken off the list” or other retribution that may take place should they come forward.  For this reason, your suggestion about taking this matter to Mr. Seto’s “cabinet” or personnel cannot be effective.  Many more substitutes did not attend last night in fear of potentially losing their now lower-paying jobs.  Board involvement is necessary.

This letter is requesting that the board take up this matter for reconsideration and add it to the agenda for the next board meeting.  At minimum, the matter of paying the $110 rate for the 2013/2014 school year needs to be respected to avoid the prospect of litigation.  Additionally, you should consider keeping that rate of $110 for substitutes that make the 120 day minimum as this level of service is proof of these substitutes’ dedication and commitment to the students, faculty, and parents throughout the school year.  This alone would allow for better continuity of substitute staff that is familiar with the students, faculty, buildings, as well as emergency lock down, evacuation, and fire drill procedures.

It is clear there are many urgent matters for the board to address.  That said, this matter should not take a back seat due to those other issues or the upcoming election.

I look forward to your reply on how the board intends to address this matter in the near term.  If any of you would like to meet with me personally to discuss in more detail, I would be happy to do so.  Thank you for your time, service, and dedication to our students, families, and the township.

Your Thoughts


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