California Clinicians Gain Salary Supplement Speech-language pathologists in Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) in California found that the three P’s of advocacy-patience, persistence, and partnerships-helped win a $2,213 salary supplement for clinicians who hold the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC). The PAUSD became the first district in California to grant a salary supplement. ... School Matters
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School Matters  |   April 01, 2005
California Clinicians Gain Salary Supplement
Author Notes
  • Susan Boswell, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at sboswell@asha.org.
    Susan Boswell, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at sboswell@asha.org.×
  • Eileen Crowe, director of state association relations, can be reached at ecrowe@asha.org.
    Eileen Crowe, director of state association relations, can be reached at ecrowe@asha.org.×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / School Matters
School Matters   |   April 01, 2005
California Clinicians Gain Salary Supplement
The ASHA Leader, April 2005, Vol. 10, 2-19. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.10052005.2
The ASHA Leader, April 2005, Vol. 10, 2-19. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.10052005.2
Speech-language pathologists in Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) in California found that the three P’s of advocacy-patience, persistence, and partnerships-helped win a $2,213 salary supplement for clinicians who hold the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC).
The PAUSD became the first district in California to grant a salary supplement. The movement toward salary supplements has spread across the nation to 43 districts which grant salary supplements to SLPs who hold the CCC, and 15 states which have enacted salary supplement legislation. In Palo Alto, the salary supplement will come from the district’s general fund and will be placed on the salary schedule along with other stipends, increasing the base salary for 12 SLPs, the director of student services, and two classroom teachers in the district who hold the CCCs.
The salary supplement will go a long way toward recruitment and retention efforts in the Palo Alto school district, an affluent district near Stanford University which has many opportunities for private practice, said Judy Niizawa, an SLP who is on the Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA) Representative Council.
“We were having a lot of staff turnover, which was hard on our department. The salary supplement will help retain highly qualified staff,” Niizawa said. “By granting this salary supplement, the Board of Education is saying that they value the people in our schools and their qualifications.”
Quest for Recognition
The SLPs’ quest to gain recognition for the CCCs and a salary supplement began six years ago when they saw the district’s urge for teachers to achieve certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
As members of the Palo Alto Educator’s Association (PAEA), the SLPs voted to be placed on the teacher salary schedule rather than align with school psychologists or administrators.
“We wanted to be acknowledged as part of the teaching staff, yet our preparation is different,” said SLP Carole Biemer. “Since we could never take the teachers’ NBPTS test, we wanted our CCCs to be considered as an equivalency.”
This was the message that the SLPs presented to the PAEA president during his visit to a speech-language pathology department meeting. Judy Niizawa presented a transcript including the rigorous preparation needed to obtain a master’s degree and the scope of practice in speech-language pathology.
“Many educators think all we do is remediate /s/, /r/, and /th/, that we’re ‘speech teachers.’ They don’t realize the extent of our professional preparation, that we have a clinical fellowship year,” Beimer said.
The SLPs spoke with their assistant superintendent who is responsible for human resources, emphasizing their preparation and scope of responsibilities, Niizawa said. “We are expected to teach, assess, and perform administrative tasks, and unlike teachers, we have no assistants or preparation time.”
Building a Case for CCCs
The SLPs built their case and took the issue to the negotiating team for the PAEA. They compiled success stories about salary supplements from other districts and gleaned advocacy tips and supporting documents from the ASHA Web site. Then they met with the negotiating team president, who worked in Niizawa’s school.
Partnerships with teachers helped their cause. “The teachers came to IEP meetings, which showed them the interactions we had with parents and our role in supporting the curriculum,” Niizawa said. The SLPs’ respect for their teaching colleagues and support in addressing the needs of their students also helped, she said.
The SLPs made their presence known at the weekly negotiating team meetings, Biemer said. They were not permitted to participate, but gained recognition for their cause.
“At one meeting,” Biemer recalled, “we presented team members with pieces of See’s chocolates to represent our CCC certification.”
The issue finally got on the agenda for negotiations with the Palo Alto School Board, only to be dismissed due to other issues taking priority. Undaunted, the SLPs regrouped and succeeded in getting salary supplements on the 2004 negotiations agenda, and the PAUSD Board of Education adopted the salary supplement at its Nov. 9, 2004 meeting.
“The salary supplement provides recognition,” Biemer said, adding that it gives them equivalency to staff with the NBPTS.
A National Trend
Nationwide, the trend is growing of salary supplements being linked to the CCCs. The movement toward salary supplements began in Mississippi in 1999. After several years of strong advocacy by the Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the state awarded a $6,000 annual salary increase to audiologists and SLPs who hold the CCCs, the same amount provided to teachers who hold NBPTS certification.
In 2003, the Louisiana legislature authorized a phased-in annual salary supplement of up to $5,000 for school-based clinicians who hold the Department of Education credential, state license, and the CCC. That year Rhode Island also enacted legislation providing SLPs with funding support while pursuing their CCCs.
In 2004, Oklahoma passed legislation providing ASHA-certified SLPs and audiologists with a $5,000 annual supplement. Louisiana and Oklahoma legislatures still need to fund their actions, but state associations are optimistic that funds will become available in the current fiscal year.
Missouri also enacted legislation last year that puts SLPs who possess a teacher’s license, the CCCs, and at least five years’ experience in public schools at the highest level of the state education department’s career advancement ladder. To be placed at this level, the professional’s local school district must also participate in the voluntary Missouri Career Development and Teacher Excellence Plan.
This year a number of state speech-language-hearing associations are once again pursuing salary supplement legislative initiatives. With the upturn in some state budgets, state association leaders are hopeful that legislation will be enacted. Visit the SEALS page to find out more about state association activities in this area, or contact your State Education Advocacy Leader.
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April 2005
Volume 10, Issue 5