May 4, 2016
The Quality Teacher Incentive Act of 1999 was enacted in an effort to provide certain stipends to educators holding an Advanced Professional Certificate (APC) who were working in certain schools, holding a National Board of Professional Teacher certificate (NBC), and being eligible for a certain signing bonus at the time of employment. Since its passage in 1999, several changes had been made in the law -- from the types of eligible schools to the amount paid out in these stipends.
Unfortunately last year, in the final days of the legislative session, the 2015 General Assembly, as part of the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (Ch-489), made additional changes to §6-306 of the Education Article; that section of the law which provides for these stipends. They specifically cut funding for certain stipends and authorized existing stipends for this year only (FY2015-16) and under certain new conditions.
The National Board Stipend will continue for this year. However, it was amended. So, for FY2016 (the current year), only classroom teachers holding a NBC during FY2014, and currently employed by the same school system, are eligible for the stipend. If the classroom teacher was assigned to a school identified as having comprehensive needs in FY 2014 and possessed an NBC, then he/she qualifies for a maximum stipend of $2,000, the State matches the county grant up to $2,000. All other eligible employees who possessed a NBC in FY2013-2014 will qualify for a maximum of $1,000 from the State.
Within the past couple of weeks, additional news about the National Board Stipend has come out. Senate Bill 493 was passed in the legislature and now sits of the Governor’s desk for signature. This legislation creates changes to the Education Article governing the stipend. It appears that, effective next school year, the amount of the State stipend for possessing a NBC will be increased to $4,000 per qualified individual, up from the current amount of $2,000 if the bill is signed into law. We do not, at this time, know what other administrative procedures may apply to the stipend as part of its application.
The APC stipend was deleted from the grant under §6-306 of the Education Article. This was the $1,500 stipend for a classroom teacher who held an Advanced Professional Certificate, rated as effective, and worked in a qualifying school identified with comprehensive needs. As we have come to find out, the removal was due to the dramatic increase in the number of schools identified as having comprehensive needs, as well as the belief that the program created a financial disincentive for achieving improvement in school performance, as the stipend was based on status and not if a school actually improved academically. However, for FY2016 (our current year), those holding an APC, who were effective and currently employed in a comprehensive needs school that was identified as such in FY2014, are eligible for the stipend for this year only. Beyond this year, the stipend has been eliminated.
This is a huge set back to PGCEA’s appeal that was pursued on behalf of County Resource Teachers who were working in comprehensive needs schools that were denied payment of the stipend last year. The PGCEA’s appeal is before the Prince George’s County Board of Education for a hearing, which we are certain, will be denied. However, we knew that all along, as our goal was to get the matter before the State Board of Education. The next step in the process is to cause that body to examine its own administrative regulations governing the application of the stipend. Those regulations were developed by the staff of MSDE, and it is the contention of PGCEA that the application, as applied by MSDE, is not equitable, given the similarity of work between the positions of special educators and resource teachers.
Once this matter is moved to the next level, PGCEA will provide additional information about the case.