Success Story: Obtaining Salary Supplement Through Recognition of ASHA Certification
Fe Murray, SLP
Page Unified School District, Arizona
What did you do?
Our superintendent decided to reward Nationally Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) with a salary bonus. The SLPs in our district decided to ask for a salary bonus based on our national certification (ASHA CCC).
What were your greatest challenges?
Initially, our SLP supervisor and superintendent were not supportive. The superintendent indicated that he did not believe the certification processes were comparable. Our union also refused to support us because our numbers were too small.
Rather than give up, we decided to gather facts and write a proposal requesting a salary supplement for certified SLPs. Using the ASHA State Advocacy Guidebook for the Salary Supplement Initiative, which compared the certification requirements for NBPTS and ASHA and the Mississippi legislation granting a statewide supplement to certified SLPs, we drafted a proposal. To garner community support, we wrote an article for our local paper describing our services and our effort to obtain a supplement. We contacted neighboring districts to compare salaries and pay schedules and met with nationally certified school guidance counselors and school psychologists in our district to include them in our effort.
What was the outcome of your effort?
Armed with facts and widespread support, we approached our teachers' union, which supported us in principle, but refused to include our issue on the bargaining agenda. Parents agreed to write letters of support to the school board. We provided our administration with the costs of using expensive contractors, who would be needed because our certified staff had been reduced from 6 to 2. Our administrators reviewed our proposal and agreed that the benefits of a salary bonus were numerous and outweighed the costs of hiring outside agencies to provide speech-language pathology services. Finally, we delivered a presentation to the board of education, which approved a $3,000 annual stipend for ASHA-certified SLPs.
sample contract excerpt [PDF].
What advice would you give others?
I would advise anyone who is advocating for change in her district to be patient, persistent, and open to compromise. Maintain a cohesive group of colleagues willing to stay focused on the goal. It took us 7 years to fully realize our goal!
Gather facts and information at the national, state, and local levels before presenting your proposal. All of the information we gathered from ASHA and neighboring districts really helped us solidify our case. Also, recognize that supportive parents can be powerful allies. Be flexible and willing to compromise, particularly when working with your teacher's union.