Atlanta Public Schools, union battle over teacher pay raises
ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - The Atlanta Federation of Teachers sent a letter to the Atlanta Public School Superintendent Monday night, asking the district to rescind its decision to only give teachers a portion of the $3,000 pay raise from the state.
“The teachers are angry,” said Verdailla Turner, President of Georgia Federation of Teachers and president of the Atlanta chapter.
School may be out but school districts around the state are already planning for the next year, including their budget. A pay raise for teachers is already taken care of by the state, unless it’s a district like Atlanta Public Schools which has more teachers than what the state pays. These districts will have to budget for the difference. But APS said they don’t have the money and won’t until the city of Atlanta settles an outstanding balance of $10 million. Teachers have already been notified that they will get a $2,000 pay raise and an “I owe you” for the rest.
Turner sent a letter to APS Superintendent and the mayor of Atlanta stating in part, “We ask that you prioritize and pass the $3,000 pay raise to Atlanta teachers.”
Turner believes the district isn’t doing enough to find the money.
“This shows that APS is bullying the city of Atlanta and it’s not fair to the city and it’s not fair to use teachers as props, said Turner.”
Regardless, Turner said the “I owe you” may not be enough to keep teachers around who are guaranteed the $3,000 pay raise in other counties.
“We don’t want the teachers to walk out. In other cities, they have walked out,” said Turner.
FOX 5 News spoke to some parents Monday who fear they could lose good teachers.
“They need their money to live too,” said Samantha Wilcher, APS Parent
“I think it’s sad, they deserve to get it,” said Pamela Cooley.
The Atlanta Federation of Teachers issued this statement Monday night:
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Atlanta Public Schools responded to the union's release with the following statement:
“Atlanta Public Schools 2019-2020 budget is fiscally sound, it puts students first and it rewards our hard working employees. This budget provides an average raise of $2,000 for all teachers. It is unfortunate that the state budget does not provide large school districts like ours with the full funding equivalent to the $3,000-per-teacher pay raises. School districts have three ways to balance their budgets: cut expenditures by reducing staff or programming, raise taxes or dip into their fund balance. In order to pass along the full $3,000 pay raise to teachers that the Governor and General Assembly have requested, APS would have to either cut positions and programs, increase taxes or pull from our diminished fund balance – none of which are fiscally or educationally responsible options, when there is another funding option available. In this case, that option is the TAD Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) as negotiated by the City of Atlanta and APS, and approved by both parties on Jan. 7, 2019. The payment from that agreement would have gone toward restoring $10M of fund balance for FY2019, and would have provided a recurring revenue stream of more than $12M per year that could be used to fund additional compensation.”
“Additionally, AFT is incorrect in their understanding of the APS budget. While we would have welcomed their input at our budget commission meetings, the AFT has not fully participated in the budget process.
“Finally, this is not the budget this administration, this school board nor our chief financial officer wanted. We wanted to pass along every penny in raises to our deserving teachers. We are committed to doing that and continue to work through our attorneys to encourage the City to honor the IGA, and make good on its financial commitments to APS.” – Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools