Arkansas Wins Salary Supplement Funding After learning that a neighboring state, Louisiana, was working toward a state salary supplement for school-based speech-language pathologists, members of the Arkansas Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ArkSHA) approached the association’s Board of Directors in 2004 with a question. “Do you think Arkansas could get a statewide salary supplement, too?” asked SLPs Brandi ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   October 01, 2009
Arkansas Wins Salary Supplement Funding
Author Notes
  • Susan Boswell, assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at sboswell@asha.org.
    Susan Boswell, assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at sboswell@asha.org.×
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Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   October 01, 2009
Arkansas Wins Salary Supplement Funding
The ASHA Leader, October 2009, Vol. 14, 2. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.14132009.2
The ASHA Leader, October 2009, Vol. 14, 2. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.14132009.2
After learning that a neighboring state, Louisiana, was working toward a state salary supplement for school-based speech-language pathologists, members of the Arkansas Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ArkSHA) approached the association’s Board of Directors in 2004 with a question. “Do you think Arkansas could get a statewide salary supplement, too?” asked SLPs Brandi Nixon and Kay Hall.
Five years later, the answer to that question is “yes.” In June, the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) awarded $2.5 million to fund legislation that was passed in 2005, and 500 SLPs across the state are celebrating the one-year $5,000 salary supplement.
“The salary supplement goes a long way in recruiting and retaining quality SLPs in our schools,” said Hall, ArkSHA president and ASHA state education advocacy leader (SEAL). “It has shown good faith and has boosted morale. This effort shows that we are valued and will inspire us to work even harder.”
The ArkSHA Board of Directors took up the challenge in 2004 by appointing a salary supplement committee that included SLP Carol Fleming, who quickly found interested supporters across the state. Hall and Nixon found a primary sponsor in the Arkansas House, former Rep. Betty Pickett (D). ArkSHA worked with its lobbyist, drafted legislation, and found a Senate sponsor, Sen. Shane Broadway (D). The bill moved quickly; it was introduced in February 2005, approved by the education committee on March 8, and passed the legislature later that month.
“It moved quickly, but we were on top of this, meeting with legislators after hours,” Fleming said. “SLPs wrote to every single legislator. When the bill got to the Senate floor, it passed unanimously. It was a learning experience, and we were excited.”
The group used information gathered from the ASHA Web site, including side-by-side comparisons between the CCCs and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NPBTS) certification, developed flyers and handouts, and hosted grassroots advocacy days at the state capitol. The biggest challenge was educating legislators about the role of SLPs in the schools. “We were regarded as ‘speech teachers’ and we needed to educate legislators that our role is much broader and we work with literacy and generate funds for the district,” Fleming said.
Passage of the bill was an important milestone—but a larger challenge remained. Although the new law stated that the ASHA CCC-SLP was equivalent to NPBTS certification and provided a $5,000 annual salary supplement for full-time SLPs who hold the CCC—it remained unfunded.
ArkSHA considered lobbying for funding during a 2006 special session, but bill sponsors advised them that the timing wasn’t right. The following year, the salary supplement was included in an appropriations bill, which died in the joint budget committee.
Renewed Efforts
After their efforts stalled, ArkSHA regrouped and retooled its strategy. Hall was elected ArkSHA president, Fleming became president-elect, and the salary supplement committee was reduced to six members. The association hired a new lobbyist, who recruited Rep. Eddie Cheatham (D) to sponsor the bill. Cheatham understood the importance of recruitment and retention in the schools after learning that an SLP in his district left because of salary issues.
ArkSHA representatives met with the ADE, which supported the bill, and on the advice of their lobbyist, focused their advocacy efforts on lawmakers in favor of the bill. It was signed by the governor on March 26, 2009. The one-time salary supplement for 2009–2010 will be funded through the ADE, which had $16 million in surplus funds from declining student enrollment. (An article in the Sept. 1 issue gave an incorrect figure. It is a one-time supplement of $5,000 each for the 500 SLPs who hold the CCC-SLP.)
“For right now, it is a one-time salary supplement because there are surplus funds,” Fleming said. “It’s our first step, but an important one because once it becomes funded, it will be difficult to take it away. We’ll go back for the 2010–2011 school year.”
For more information, contact Carol Fleming at cbflem@swbell.net or Kay Hall at kmhall03@sbcglobal.net.
Salary Supplements Nationwide

The ASHA CCC means extra salary for audiologists and/or SLPs statewide in at least nine other states and district-wide in 91 school districts in 22 states.

ASHA members who would like to pursue a similar state or district benefit can use an advocacy guide that includes a list of states and districts with salary supplements. For additional information, contact Janet Deppe at jdeppe@asha.org or Eileen Crowe at ecrowe@asha.org.

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October 2009
Volume 14, Issue 13