I've been teaching in the same district for 8 years. My husband has worked in two other districts during the same period of time. I'm just wondering what it's like in other places in the country and if the "process" works well or not.
Here's been our experience:
- We are issued yearly contracts usually in late March or early April. The dates seem to move up and up every year- last year March 15, this year, it's today, Feb 1! Districts don't post jobs/openings or do interviews usually until April, so you're put in a position where you have to turn down your contract in March, in hopes of finding a new, better job in April.
- If you sign your contract and then back out on it, you're forced to pay of a fee of $1000-$2000 (depending on the district) (on a salary of $35K-$40K) and the district can notify the state and it can interfere with your certification. In my district, the fee is the same regardless if you cancel your contract 1 day after signing or halfway through the year.
- They issue contracts with the last year's salary, because the state Legislature doesn't approve funding formulas until late April or May. Raises are then issues "after-the-fact" with no official notification or new contracts issued, we just get an email saying that the governing board has approved __% raise. The timing of this often means we are sent an email in Feb/March with a hypothetical raise, but we have to sign the contract without the raise, and then we just have to hope that one gets issued in the summer. If it doesn't, we have no recourse, since they blame it on the State Legislature. To be more specific, this year we were told there would be a $500 signing bonus, a 1% raise from the state, and a 1% raise from the district..... but all of this is contingent on state and district votes after contracts are signed. Usually the raise is 0-1% total. Funding in AZ is a nightmare since the recession.
- Almost all districts are on a stepless salary scale. You can Google what that is if you don't know.
So, overall, my questions are:
When are your contracts issued? How long do you have to sign them? How does that timing line up with hiring in other districts? How long are the length of your contracts? Are there penalties if you cancel before the school year starts? Are raises and benefits awarded before or after contracts are issued?'
I'm not hugely bothered by my situation since I'm used to it and know it's the same across Phoenix, BUT, getting contracts 6 weeks early was a pretty big surprise, and last year the proposed raise got decreased and turned into a one-time bonus by the legislature afterwards so that was disheartening.