CEA survey gives educators a voice
by DELANEY WALKER, Banner Staff Writer
Jan 24, 2013 | 772 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michelle Castleberry
Michelle Castleberry
The educators have spoken.

At least, a portion of them have in the Cleveland Education Association’s first faculty and staff survey filled out in December.

“It was our first survey, so we were really glad for the response. Plus, we know how busy teachers are, so to take the time to do it was a big deal,” said Michelle Castleberry, CEA president.

A total of 158 Cleveland city faculty and staff responded to the 10-question survey. CEA compiled the results and Castleberry presented the information to the school board.

“I felt like the [school board’s] response was very positive. I just feel like across the board, our school board supports us wholeheartedly and is really there for our teachers,” Castleberry said. “I think our teachers, as communication is growing, realize their support.”

Survey questions covered: the TEAM evaluation model, salary schedules, higher pay for a master’s degree, school activities, raises, insurance and student testing.

In addition, two questions allowed for open responses.

“The survey was more pointed toward how the board could help faculty and staff,” Castleberry said. “They are the ones who put in raises. They are the ones who talk about insurance, etc.”

Of the 158 faculty and staff surveyed, 94.3 percent said they would like to see a raise in 2013-14. Only .6 percent said no to a raise and 5.7 percent claimed neutrality.

When asked if they would like to see more money put toward insurance, 66.5 percent responded yes. A total of 60.1 percent then said they would be open to receiving a smaller raise, if the district paid more toward insurance.

Castleberry said she was surprised anyone would say no to a raise.

“The [next] survey needs more detail,” Castleberry said. “The people saying no to a raise might have been the same people who wanted more money going toward insurance.”

Whether the board will act on the survey will be seen during budget planning, Castleberry said.

Several questions received an overwhelming one-sided response.

Only 5.7 percent said they would like to see the salary schedule eliminated. A responding 94.3 percent said they prefer the salary schedule.

When asked if students were tested too much, faculty and staff responded positively with 81 percent. Only 19 percent felt students were not being tested too much. Suggestions made were eliminating Benchmarks or taking SchoolNet three times instead of six or even once every nine weeks.

Only 13.3 percent of respondents felt increased pay for a master’s degree should stop if the person is not working in the area of their degree.

The survey is a part of CEA and the school administration’s efforts to build communication with faculty and staff.

“Dr. Ringstaff has been wonderful in setting up programs for communication,” Castleberry said. “He created monthly meetings called the communications committee,” she said of the city schools director. “There is one representative from each school who attends the meetings.

“We can send questions to our representative from Blythe and they go to the meeting and ask our questions.”

Castleberry said CEA wants to make sure faculty and staff are heard.

“We want to support our teachers and show we are here for them if there ever is a question or issue. We are that support system they would call,” Castleberry said. “We can go with them on meetings and just be there as another voice.”

CEA has big plans for local educators in the city.

“Our biggest mission, because we are a local association, is to bring teachers together with one voice and make us professional,” Castleberry said. “We want teachers to be seen as professionals, like doctors and lawyers. We want them to be seen as ... experts in their fields.”

A suggestion was made to prepare a joint survey by CEA and the city school administration for 2013.

“Teachers are very busy and a lot of them have families in addition to the load they carry at school and working 60 plus hours a week,” Castleberry said.

“Being able to communicate with the board at meetings is very difficult [timewise], so I feel CEA can be the bridge between teachers and the board.”