BOE tackles the TEAMS Act

DeKalb County Schools Assistant Superintendent Brian Thomas

The DeKalb County Schools Assistant Superintendent Brian Thomas briefed the board last week on the TEAMS Act recently signed into law.

On May 11, 2021, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the Teacher Excellence and Accountability for Mathematics and Science (TEAMS) Act, legislation designed to fill Alabama schools with credentialed math and science teachers in grades sixth through twelve.

“The quality of education in this state, particularly in rural, hard-to-staff areas, has to be solved to properly prepare our children for their futures in an ever-increasing STEM-based economy,” said Gov. Ivey.

Ivey, also a former teacher, said with the TEAMS initiative they are attracting both in-state and regional teachers in key subjects to move the needle in Alabama school systems.

Thomas said the new law states each district may employ one TEAMS math and one TEAMS science teacher for every 105 students in grades six through twelve, equating to roughly 7,000 teachers statewide.

He clarified these units are not additional units to the currently allocated units by each district.

“DeKalb County earned 44 math and 44 science teaming TEAMS teaching positions,” said Thomas. “

There are several requirements prospective teachers must meet to apply for a TEAMS position including the following:

• hold a valid Alabama Professional educator certificate in middle-level math or science or secondary math, science or computer science

• teach full-time approved math or science courses in grades sixth through twelfth with appropriate certificate endorsements. Full-time according to the TEAMS Act is teaching approved courses six out of the seven periods.

• Currently hold or plan to obtain an Advanced Credential from either the National Institute for STEM Education or the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Certification in math or science.

Due to the specifications of the requirements, Thomas said the district is going to need a very specific and intricate process to analyze each person who wants to be

considered for a position.

“We then have to work with the school principal to make sure that their schedule is going to line up and meet the contract before the superintendent can make a recommendation, you the board approve that recommendation and then the contract be signed,” he said.

Thomas said although the process is tedious, it’s worth going through because a teacher on TEAMS can make anywhere from $5,000 to a little more than $21,000.

“And if the school is on ‘high needs’ basis or ‘hard-to-staff’ it’s an additional $5,000,” he said. “So, you’re talking about a substantial amount of money depending on the years of experience and where they land on the salary schedule.”

Thomas said right now, the DeKalb County Schools District has two schools identified by the state as “hard-to-staff”, and those are Henagar Jr. High School and Valley Head High School.

“We can petition for additional schools in our district to be added to that list and we are working on that, but we can’t ask for every school,” he said. “Rational has to say, ‘Well this school in your district is having a more difficult time than this school.”’

On a district level, Thomas said it’s important to them to make sure that any of the employees who quality have an opportunity to apply.

He also spoke on the salary schedules, an area in which he said there have already heard a few complaints. He reiterated the schedules were established by the state legislator not the districts and looks like it is here to stay.

“You will see that disparity between other certified teachers in the building who may not qualify or don’t have the right credentials,” said Thomas.

State Superintendent of Education and former middle school science teacher Dr. Eric G. Mackey said TEAMS will prove to be a powerful recruitment tool beyond state lines.

“With the focus on a technology-based economy for the future of Alabama, this new pay scale provides a unique recruiting opportunity for Alabama’s schools,” said Mackey.

“Here in Alabama, middle and high school math and science teachers can potentially earn a salary that surpasses any grades sixth through twelfth teacher salary in the Southwest.”

Among the various points discussed in regards to the TEAMS Act, Thomas also touched on coaching supplements and how they would be handled by a teacher who is also a coach were to qualify.

He recommended that contracts based on percentages would be based on whatever their original teaching salary schedule was and not the TEAMS Act salary.

While the model contract for the Act is still under construction as details are worked out Thomas said local district applications would consist of 11 questions and be available in a google form to be completed online and uploaded through the following https://www.weteachalabama.com/teams/.

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