Central office and union presidents' perspectives on course approvals for teachers' salary advancement

Tammy Cosgrove, Fordham University


School districts are currently faced with unprecedented funding and budget challenges. Personnel costs make up the largest portion of school district budgets. Of all personnel costs, teacher salaries comprise the largest share. Accordingly, the traditional teacher salary schedule with its predictable step and column structure comes under greater public scrutiny as communities call for cost containment. While much discussion has already occurred relative to raises obtained through step movement, conversations about salary advancement for professional development activities have garnered less attention. The purpose of this study was to obtain the perspectives of central office administrators and teacher union presidents relative to the processes districts utilize for teachers' salary adjustments. In particular, the researcher collected data regarding the course approval process utilized in five school districts in the Lower Hudson Valley region of New York. Districts were selected based upon demographics and accessibility to the researcher. Through structured interviews and document collection, several major themes emerged: too rapid movement, rigor, third-party providers and online courses. The process of course approval for salary adjustment is one fraught with problems and issues for both central office administrators and teacher union presidents. Approval processes varied by district, as did specific contract language. Contracts most favorable to the district's interests provided the administration with total discretion to approve or deny courses. Also amenable to districts were restrictions relative to providers, in-service courses, online courses as well as the number of salary advancements permitted within a specified period of time. The requirement for professional development to be tied to the district's Annual Professional Performance Review plan and to be demonstrable via classroom observations was also identified as being favorable for districts. Many steps are available to districts to make the course approval and salary adjustment process one that is meaningful, effective, and fair. Some steps will be easier than others to implement, however teacher salary advancements and professional development are likely to be areas of interest for central office administrators and teacher union presidents for some time to come.

Subject Area

Education finance|Educational leadership|School administration

Recommended Citation

Cosgrove, Tammy, "Central office and union presidents' perspectives on course approvals for teachers' salary advancement" (2011). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3452785.