Success Story: Achieving Salary Supplement for ASHA Certification

Marie Ireland, SLP
Chesterfield School District, Virginia

What did you do?

My colleagues and I successfully advocated for positive changes for the SLPs in my school district. First, we negotiated extended contracts for SLPs so they could continue working with students over the summer. Soon after that, we were successful in securing a 5% salary bonus for SLPs and audiologists with ASHA certification.

What were your greatest challenges?

In order to make a case for extending the contractual year and providing a bonus for our highly qualified staff, we needed to determine the goals of the school district administration, school board, and budget committee. Then we had to collect and present data that showed that what we wanted actually furthered the goals of these groups.

The data we collected showed the percentage of staff who leave our district each year and the cost of recruiting new staff, including costs associated with advertising, attending recruiting fairs, and training new staff. We also compiled information from the ASHA State Advocacy Guidebook and reviewed ASHA Leader articles that highlighted the successes of other states and districts.

The next challenge we faced was determining who the decision makers were and how to access them and making sure we met the timelines for the budget process. Our final step was to prove to our administration that providing a supplement would offset the costs of recruiting to fill vacancies and training new hires.

What advice would you give to others?

The most important advice that I would give to someone who is advocating for a change is to do your homework! Determine what you want and the mechanisms for change where you work. Think about the impact of your request on the decision makers in your district. Anticipate questions by compiling data that support your request. Try to understand the perspective of your school's administration.

In our district, we compiled information on the number of SLPs who leave each year, the cost of recruiting and training new staff, and the impact a salary supplement would have on school administration, the school board, and the district finances. Once we were able to convince the district that the benefits of a supplement would outweigh the costs, they supported our request, and we were ultimately successful. As a result, our district has lower staff turnover, less demand for recruitment and training of new hires, and fewer parent complaints.

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