North Carolina is in the midst of a debate over how to improve teacher pay, but one overlooked aspect is how much teachers are paid when they’re working outside the classroom but still serving their schools.
That compensation is called supplemental or extra duty pay. It applies to high school sports coaches, athletic directors, band directors, newspaper and yearbook advisers and other positions. While teacher pay in general is too low, the compensation for those who work long hours in extracurricular areas is especially dismal.
Consider, for instance, the situation in Wake County. The county provides one of the state’s largest local salary supplements, but it has done virtually nothing to improve extra duty pay. The WRAL website highschoolot.com explored the situation in an article last week. It found that the extra-duty salary schedule has barely changed in 28 years. In nearly three decades, the pay of a 10-year head football coach ($4,197) has increased $37. Pay for a first-year activity adviser ($400) has gone up $2.
The proposed Wake County schools budget calls for an increase in supplemental pay, but the losses to 28 years of inflation can hardly be made up in a year. That a prosperous county like Wake has allowed pay to deteriorate so much suggests that the situation is even more dismal in poorer counties.
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Higher pay isn’t simply a matter of fairness. It’s a matter of effectiveness and what’s best for students who participate in extracurricular activities. The extra pay is so low that teachers often can’t afford to play the out-of-classroom roles to the extent they once did. They can make more money with almost any other part-time job – and most need a part-time job.
As a result, schools must turn to parents and other nonteachers to oversee activities. The N.C. High School Athletic Association estimates that one-third of coaches are now nonfaculty. Those substitutes are well-meaning and often experienced in their fields, but it is better to have activities supervised by teachers who are vetted by the system, trained in dealing with young people and able to guide and assess them in both their academic and extracurricular activities.
Better extra duty pay also is a way to offset the low compensation for teaching. It would benefit a school’s culture, the quality of its extracurricular activities and the experience of students who participate in them.