Success Story: Establishing a Separate and Higher Salary Scale for SLPs
Claudia Dunaway, MA, CCC-SLP
San Diego Unified School District, California
What did you do?
We worked collaboratively with the teachers' association and district to gain a separate salary scale for speech-language pathologists that was competitive with the private sector. We focused primarily on the steps between 1 and 10 years of service. We also added a $2,000 stipend for SLPs who had either their CCCs or a California state license.
What were the challenges you faced?
Proving to the association and the district that this would solve the SLP shortage problem and save money in the long run was a challenge. The association is committed to equity and parity among all members, so a separate schedule was a hard philosophical sell. We focused on the shortage and the budget issues. At no time did we hold the SLP as better qualified or more hard-working than a teacher.
What was the outcome of your effort?
We achieved the salary schedule and the stipend, which allowed us to hire 60 district SLPs. We now depend on contracted SLPs to cover only leaves of absence. We no longer have a shortage, and we saved the district money.
What advice would give others?
- Be proactive and professional.
- Write a compelling proposal.
- Organize your staff to be vocal and speak with one voice. This is very important. We went to meetings where other groups were also advocating for improved salaries and working conditions. They acted as individuals and brought up issues and concerns of varying importance, mostly to themselves. I thought they weakened their case. By contrast, we prioritized our goals and appointed spokespeople at each meeting.
- Work collaboratively with the union and the district and show concrete evidence that the salary increase and stipend will lead to better outcomes.
- Be persistent and look for advocates in the community and on the school board.