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A true local investment Cullman City Schools invests $1+ million in employees in addition to state raises

Nick Lee Aug 08

Cullman City Schools is going above and beyond to give its staff additional raises and support as part of an expanded $1+ million local investment in its workforce, in conjunction with the State of Alabama passing its biggest education budget ever that included long-needed raises in its own right.

The new $8.3 billion state education budget includes across the board raises for teachers, with most educators gaining 4 percent raises, while the pay floor and percent increases now rise annually as opposed to every three years.

All Cullman City Schools employees will be seeing raises from that state budget increase automatically, but the school board has also laid out a plan to invest more than $1 million per year locally in additional raises, benefits and professional development support for its employees. In addition to the state raises, employees at Cullman City Schools will receive raises ranging from 2 percent to 15 percent divvied across various roles and departments. Employees such as teachers, aides, support staff, janitorial, Child Nutrition Program (CNP) lunchroom workers, and more will all be getting additional pay raises as part of the fresh local investment from the school board.

“We know how important our teachers and staff are to making our schools great, and the school board and I are so excited to be able to invest even more into them to make sure we remain one of the greatest school systems in the state,” Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff said. “We want to make Cullman City Schools a premiere destination for educators, and do everything we can to lift our staff up to be as successful as possible. It’s things like this that make us competitive and attractive for the best and brightest to want to come here and work.”

In addition to pay raises, the local investment also includes incentives for teachers to pursue National Board Certification, with nationally board certified teachers receiving an additional 10 percent raise up to $5,000 locally for reaching the national teaching benchmark, in addition to an existing state-level $5,000 incentive. There’s also a mentorship and support program available for teachers looking to expand their professional development with National Board Certification and reimbursement of registration and certification fees up to $2,000. Cullman already has more than 45 national board certified teachers in its schools, with several more teachers looking to further their education and reach the level in the coming years. The system has also added a new perk for the district’s five annual teachers of the year, as each year’s winners will now receive a $1,000 supplement for their exemplary performance.

The school work schedule has also been updated to where employees only work 187 days, but are still paid for 188 days (in the past, the employee schedule included 188 work days). The system is also waiving the non-resident tuition for all employees who reside outside the district, and including a $15,000 life insurance policy for all full-time employees. The local budget also includes funding for more than a dozen local teacher units, which will be deployed across the system to help keep class sizes smaller and allow Cullman City Schools to offer more career tech courses and electives. Even substitute teachers will receive a permanent pay bump, with the new base rate landing at $100 per day, up from the previous $75 per day (the rate was temporarily raised last school year to $125 as the system looked to attract more substitutes to fill gaps during the pandemic).

“I really want to thank our salary study committee, which helped inform a lot of what we’re doing now,” Kallhoff said, referring to a group of more than 20 employees from across a gamut of departments who provided recommendations and feedback on the plan. “our Chief School Financial Officer James Brumley was also instrumental in finding these funds while still balancing out our $42 million capital project commitment for facility upgrades across the system. It was a true team effort.”

All of these locally funded increases and incentives will be permanent as an annual continuous commitment, and school officials say they’d like to do even more in the coming years to support teachers and employees.

“Our hope is that this is only the beginning,” Cullman City School Board President Amy Carter said.

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