The Astronomical Cost of Comp Time

Every decent school leader recognizes the need to train staff.  And since there is never enough time during the school year, the summer with its glorious span of empty calendar dates always seems like an untapped resource.  I, for one, am a fan of organized summer training.  But there is always the legitimate question of compensation for those attendees who are off contract (generally teachers). There are essentially four answers to the question. 

1. There is the, “They need to be here if they value their job,” intimidation answer.  Usually espoused by those who no longer teach, have longer contracts and are getting paid to work during the summer.  If you catch yourself doing this, it is a moron move, so stop immediately.

2. There is the, “We used the budget to book the great training, so if you are interested please come,” answer. This isn’t the best circumstance, but you will be surprised by how many teachers attend if you actually ask them too and explain the benefits of the training.   If you do this once, OK.  If you make a habit of doing it every summer, you are taking advantage of your staff.

3. There is the, “We booked the training and budgeted a stipend for those who attend,” answer.  This is the best answer.  It recognizes that no matter how valuable the training, it is only fair to compensate your staff for their off contract time and attention.

4. Finally, there is the, “Attend the training and you will earn comp time you can use during the upcoming school year,” answer.  This is a horrible, yet all too common solution that tricks very smart and capable school leaders every year.  On the face of it, it seems to compensate staff for their time at almost no cost.  But that is the lie.  The costs are astronomical.  Let me explain why this is the case through a couple of examples:

  • The teacher earns a comp day by attending an off contract summer training.  Then the teacher takes the comp day on an instructional day.  The school hires a sub for the teacher taking the comp day.  Here is the actual cost of this scenario

          Summer training pay: $0.00           Teacher pay on comp day: $275.00           Substitute teacher pay on comp day: $100.00           Opportunity cost: 1 day of quality instruction, times the number of  students taught by the teacher.             

Actual Cost: $375.00, plus one day lost of quality instruction for students. A darn expensive solution.

  • The teacher earns a comp day by attending an off contract summer training.  Then the teacher takes the comp day comp day on a non-instructional day.  Here is the actual cost of this scenario.

          Summer training pay: $0.00           Teacher pay on comp day: $275.00           Opportunity cost: 1 day of training, planning or collaboration with peers.           

Actual Cost: $275.00 plus one day lost of quality training, planning or collaboration with teammates and peers. A darn expensive solution.

So the best answer is back to Answer #3.  Here is the math for this scenario.

  • The teacher is paid a training stipend for participating in an off contract summer training.  The training stipend should be at least the amount of a substitute teacher day rate. The teacher does not take a comp day during the school year

          Summer training pay: $100.00 to $275.00           Teacher pay on a regular contract day: $275.00           Opportunity cost: $0          

Actual Cost: $375.00 to $550.00 with no opportunity cost.

That is the affordable solution.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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