Delaware Adds Salary Supplement for School-based Clinicians Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists in Delaware public schools are the second in the nation to achieve a fully funded salary supplement for all clinicians with the ASHA Clinical Certificate of Competence. It took only a single sentence in a 251-page budget bill for Gov. Ruth Ann Minner to grant ... School Matters
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School Matters  |   September 01, 2004
Delaware Adds Salary Supplement for School-based Clinicians
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, state association relations, can be reached at ecrowe@asha.org.
    Eileen Crowe, director, state association relations, can be reached at ecrowe@asha.org.×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / School Matters
School Matters   |   September 01, 2004
Delaware Adds Salary Supplement for School-based Clinicians
The ASHA Leader, September 2004, Vol. 9, 1-37. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM3.09172004.1
The ASHA Leader, September 2004, Vol. 9, 1-37. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM3.09172004.1
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists in Delaware public schools are the second in the nation to achieve a fully funded salary supplement for all clinicians with the ASHA Clinical Certificate of Competence. It took only a single sentence in a 251-page budget bill for Gov. Ruth Ann Minner to grant SLPs and audiologists a salary supplement equal to 6% of their base salary, which takes effect this fall.
But it took great effort to gain those few vital words. A three-year advocacy campaign took the cause to the state Department of Education and then persisted throughout two legislative sessions, keeping the issue before legislators through breakfast meetings, school visits, and hundreds of e-mails and phone calls.
“Our main objective is to recruit SLPs,” said Anne Langsdorf, an ASHA State Education Advocacy Leader (SEAL) and chair of the Delaware Speech-Language-Hearing Association (DSHA) public schools committee.
Recruiting SLPs into Delaware’s public schools is particularly challenging because the small state does not have a university-based speech-language and audiology program. Langsdorf notes that many students opt to work in the state where they graduated.
The movement toward a salary supplement began in 2000 when Delaware passed the Professional Development and Educator Accountability Act awarding a 12% salary supplement to teachers holding certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
“This got us mobilized because we believed the CCCs were an equivalent designation,” said Illene Courtright, DSHA past president who spearheaded the effort. Courtright and Langsdorf consulted ASHA documents which demonstrated equivalency between the two certifications and approached their state Board of Education. This board referred them to the Professional Standards Board, which needed to review the issue and make a recommendation.
“They turned us down flat,” Courtright said. “The Professional Standards Board said we didn’t qualify for the salary supplement because the CCCs were mandatory-not voluntary-for practice in Delaware.” At that point, the SLPs took their cause to the legislature.
Breakfast With Legislators
Every Tuesday at 7 a.m., Rep. Timothy Boulden sips coffee at a local diner and listens to constituents’ concerns. Courtright began meeting with him weekly, winning his support and later serving as a resource on education issues.
“There were many SLPs in his district,” Courtright noted. “He was getting a lot of calls and requests on this issue, and he also happened to be a member of the House Education Committee.”
Boulden introduced a bill that would allow SLPs and audiologists to be included in the salary supplement that is awarded to teachers for passage of the NBPTS, and set up a meeting with the Education Committee. “He guided us through the legislative process,” Langsdorf said.
Creating Awareness
Boulden’s personal conviction to the cause grew after a 2003 visit to Downes Elementary School in Newark. During the busy morning visit, he spent a half-hour observing Rochelle Davidson’s treatment session with a first grader with apraxia as the two worked on articulation and language, placing sentences in grammatically correct order.
“I was amazed at the amount of time Rep. Boulden spent at the treatment session,” Davidson recalled. “He was very interested and appreciated being able to observe and be part of the class.”
The visit had a lasting impact on the legislator who realized that speech and language difficulties can happen to anyone-he later learned that the student he observed was his neighbor.
In 2000, DSHA’s advocacy efforts were also bolstered by a $3,000 state legislative and regulatory grant from ASHA which was used to build support through a public relations effort. Packets of information were compiled for legislators about the role of SLPs and audiologists, their credentials, and how they generate funds for the school system.
“We tried to educate legislators about the role we play in schools, the diverse caseload we serve, and our involvement in the broader education of children by enabling them to meet state standards,” Langsdorf said.
The effort gained the support of SLPs, parents, high school students who had received services, administrators, and community groups who wrote letters, made calls, and sent e-mails at critical junctures. Faculty in linguistics at the University of Delaware encouraged students interested in the professions to write legislators. State directors of special education, who also had an interest in recruiting qualified personnel, backed the effort. Their union, the Delaware Education Association, also wrote a letter of support.
“We bombarded them with letters,” Courtright said. “The legislators said they’d never received this many letters for such a small bill. They had no idea of the numbers of people that received speech, language, and hearing services, and they commented that ‘it’s evident you are worth your weight in gold.’”
But despite the groundswell of support from the community to the legislature, the bill met an impasse when there was no money in the 2002 state budget.
The Final Round
In 2003, supporters regrouped and took the message to the Joint Finance Committee through oral and written testimony. ASHA provided data on federal funds to Delaware under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and cost-recovery for Medicaid funds. Federal IDEA funds to Delaware jumped from $10 million in 1998 to $21 million in 2002, and the state expects to receive up to $25 million for the current academic year.
At the committee meeting, Courtright set a box on the table containing every Medicaid claim she filed over the past 13 years, demonstrating that she alone filed for $220,000. “We wanted to show that there is ample money coming into the budget for the salary supplement and to demonstrate that SLPs and audiologists are assets to the school system who also generate Medicaid funds,” said Langsdorf, noting these funds were not used for the salary supplement.
The House bill that they worked to pass turned into an amendment in the state budget bill (S.B. 320). A sentence was included to state: “An employee who has received the Certificate of Clinical Competence-the national certification for speech pathologists and audiologists-shall receive a salary supplement equal to 6% of the base salary so derived.”
The line in the state budget is a year-to-year offering as legislators gain a better idea of the fiscal impact of the salary supplement, Courtright noted. “The door is open for us to go for the second 6%-and we will this year. We know that we’re equivalent to teachers.”
“You have to stick to it for the long haul,” Langsdorf said of the legislative process. “You must be prepared to regroup if one avenue is not productive.”
A National Trend
Today the CCCs mean extra salary for audiologists and SLPs in at least 37 local school districts and 12 additional states. The movement toward salary supplements was pioneered by Mississippi in 1999 when 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 the NBPTS. 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. In Oklahoma, legislation was enacted this year that will provide ASHA-certified SLPs and audiologists with a $5,000 annual supplement. Louisiana and Oklahoma legislatures still need to fund their actions, but state associations in these states are optimistic that funds will become available in the next fiscal year (for more information, see the Sept. 7 issue of The ASHA Leader).
Missouri recently passed legislation that puts SLPs who possess a teacher’s license, the CCCs, and who have worked in Missouri public schools for at least five years at the highest level of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s career advancement ladder. The professional’s local school district must also participate in the Missouri Career Development and Teacher Excellence Plan, which is voluntary, in order to be placed at this level. Rhode Island provides SLPs with funding for application and fee support while pursuing their CCCs.
Download a list of districts with a salary supplement [PDF]. ASHA members who would like to pursue a similar benefit in their school district or state can use an advocacy guide. For additional information, contact Janet Deppe by e-mail at jdeppe@asha.org or by phone at 800-498-2071, ext. 4447; or Eileen Crowe by e-mail at ecrowe@asha.org or by phone at ext. 4221. Visit the Delaware Speech-Language-Hearing Web site.
Illene Courtright’s Advocacy Tips
These principles guided DSHA’s campaign:
  • Know your target audience. Throughout the campaign, targeted audiences included the state school board, Professional Standards Board, individual legislators, the House Education Committee, and Joint Finance Committee.

  • Educate your audience. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists are the best prepared to represent their professions.

  • Conduct a positive campaign. “People in this small state have a long memory for negative interactions with groups,” Courtright commented.

  • Be honest. Only tell legislators what you know to be true, Courtright advised. “I told my legislator that I would always be honest about facts and figures. He could rely on the information I provided.”

  • Be persistent. “If you do not consistently work with your legislator on the issue, even a just cause will die. Every speech-language pathologist and audiologist in Delaware stepped up time and again to advocate for the supplement,” she said.

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September 2004
Volume 9, Issue 17