Tuesday, September 12, 2000

Interns feel the sting of school budget cuts

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When Cincinnati Public Schools laid off teachers this year, the district also significantly reduced money to pay teacher interns.

        That means the 62 University of Cincinnati interns will be paid $4,079 each for teaching part time, instead of the $10,000 they received last year.

        A group of 12 interns who are part of this “professional practice school program” addressed the Board of Education at its Monday meeting.

        Stephen Sippel, an intern teaching ninth-grade English at Hughes Center, said some interns will have to find additional jobs. Others might have to resign.

        “We assumed the salaries would be there,” Mr. Sippel said. “Cars were bought. Leases were signed. We are encouraged to devote all of our time to the program, but we can't do that on this salary.”

        The intern program is a partnership between the school district, UC and the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers.

        Interns are responsible for teaching two classes, attending faculty meetings and doing all preparation work required of full- time teachers.

        At the same time, they are taking two or three classes at UC.

        Superintendent Steven Adamowski said the pay was “lower than we would like to see it.”

        Board member Harriet Russell called the situation “deplorable.”

        Member Catherine Ingram said the interns should be better paid, especially since they are encouraged not to find other work.

        The interns are paid from money normally slated for a regular teacher's salary. Instead of one full-time teacher, a school might employ two or three interns.

        Schools “capture” these vacancies through retirements or attrition.

        But when there is a teacher layoff, schools cannot hold onto those vacancies, CFT President Rick Beck said.

        That's what happened this year.

        Last year, there were 12 “captured” positions that paid the $10,000 salaries for about 80 interns. This year, there are five captured slots and 62 interns, who will each receive $4,079.

        By contrast, interns working in Clermont County schools are being paid $6,000. Those in other suburban districts work for free.

        Mr. Beck said the union hopes to renegotiate a permanent funding structure for the intern program that would pay them 50 percent of a starting teacher's salary, or about $15,000.

        That could happen if teachers vote to accept the teacher evaluation and compensation system, up for a vote this week. That measure includes a provision that would authorize the union to negotiate with the board.

        The school board's finance committee also will review the intern salary structure.


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