Submitted by Dr. Carol Maher
Marshall School District Superintendent
To the Marshall Public Schools Community:
Of course, the month of May is traditionally the busiest time of year for school districts. With the excitement of a new journey for whatever next year brings us, comes the sentimental tug at the heartstrings when we think of saying good-bye to those we’ve come to care about so much. As in all of life, the universe is unfolding as it should and new adventures await. To everyone leaving whether by graduation, retirement, relocating, or just wandering the globe, we wish you the best of luck!
I have received a few questions about baccalaureate during graduation activities and the school’s stance on the practice. By law, public schools are mandated to remain neutral in religious acknowledgement. School officials can neither encourage, nor hinder, students from participating in such activities. For example, students cannot be made to pray, but neither can they be kept from praying. It is necessary, therefore, for MPS employees to support the rights of students and adults to choose to participate in baccalaureate or not to participate.
After the excitement of graduation, the last days of schools, and saying good-bye to old friends and hello to new ones, here are some things happening in the MPS Central Office and across the district.
Salaries and benefits are, by far, the highest expense in any school district. The total of these two lines is 75 percent of the MPS Operating Budget. The CTA salary committee and I have had extended conversations about the way in which we can best move forward with ways to attract, recruit and retain the best and brightest young teachers while honoring our veteran teachers. We also want to recognize and respect our classified staff. So, the past several weeks have been spent reviewing our salary schedules to make sure they are in line with the MPS board’s goals and philosophy. Since the teachers are getting a step for this year on the schedule, I recommended the classified and extra-duty personnel get the same step. In essence then, the salary schedules are the same as they were last year, with the exception of the beginning teachers’ salaries.
MPS board goal number two states: Marshall Public Schools will recruit, support and retain highly effective and efficient teachers, staff and leaders who find joy in the workplace and are dedicated to the district’s mission of excellence.
We believe all teachers and staff are valuable, and how they are compensated for what they do is a reflection of goal number two and the beliefs behind the goal. Characteristics of Marshall’s current teacher salary schedule include:
•The base salary is the second to the lowest in our conference. The vertical and horizontal steps, however, are the highest.
•This causes the average salary of all Marshall teachers to be on the low end. Average salaries of teachers with degrees past the master’s and who have been in the district over 10 years are on the high end of the conference.
•Raising the base $100 costs the district between $26,000 and $28,000. To raise the base $500 costs $130,000 - $140,000.
Among the top reasons young teachers are attracted and retained in a district is a competitive beginning salary. It makes the statement that we have an eye on the future. It says that new teachers are welcome here. The central office administrators would like to raise the salary for beginning teachers, over the next three years, to $36,000. If applied to the current salary base, the yearly cost would be $650,000 to $700,000. We acknowledge that this type of expenditure is not possible. It is critical that our returning Marshall teachers be honored by salaries representative of their long-standing dedication to MPS. We will continue to work together to create a schedule that is fair for all teachers.
It is important for everyone to have a say in district salary schedules. This includes teachers, board members, classified staff and administrators. When we come together with good intent and open minds, the result will be the best for the district. There is a lot of work to do, and I’m looking forward to continuing our research into the possibilities next year, and beyond, to accomplish this goal.
This year, we created an exit survey for individuals leaving Marshall Schools. Of the 12 individuals, I received feedback from eight. I think it’s important to share these thoughts with our community, although it’s difficult to gauge overall perceptions. Here is the feedback:
1. I am satisfied with my opportunities for professional growth. (63 percent agree, 26 percent neutral, 11 percent disagree)
2. My supervisor and I have a good working relationship. (85 percent agree, 15 percent neutral, zero percent disagree)
3. I am satisfied with my overall compensation. (30 percent agree, 28 percent neutral, 42 percent disagree)
4. Management within my organization recognizes strong job performance. (30 percent agree, 28 percent neutral, 42 percent disagree)
5. I am satisfied with the culture of my workplace. (40 percent agree, 30 percent neutral, 30 percent disagree)
6. My organization is dedicated to my professional development. (60 percent agree, 30 percent neutral, 10 percent disagree)
7. Employees here are willing to take on new tasks as needed. (100 percent agree)
8. In my organization, employees adapt quickly to difficult situations. (100 percent agree)
9. How likely is it that you would recommend Marshall Public Schools to a friend or colleague? (likely – 29 percent, neutral – 29 percent, no – 43 percent) Why? (Salary – 72 percent, Workplace – 28 percent)
10. Overall, how much did you like working here? (A great deal – 44 percent, Moderately – 42 percent, A little – 14 percent, Not at all – zero percent)
The administrative team and I will be looking at the results of this survey, debrief on its meaning, and how we can continue improving our awesome school district!
Have an Owlstanding summer, Marshall!