Columbia Board of Education switches parent educators to hourly wages
COLUMBIA – After changes by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Columbia Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to set hourly wages for parent educators.
Parent educators work under the school district’s Parents as Teachers program. They visit the homes of parents with kids that are not yet enrolled in public schools and educate the parents on the school system and community resources so they are ready when their children enter kindergarten.
The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was in conflict with changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act, meaning the Columbia Board of Education had to either adjust the agreement or begin work on a completely new one.
New regulations increase the salary necessary to qualify for overtime by more than double weekly pay. While teachers are exempt from this change, parent educators do not meet the definitions of teachers.
To avoid needing a new CBA, the board passed a resolution Monday to establish an hourly wage schedule to resolve the conflict.
The switch gives parent educators a minimum salary of $19.59 per hour and a maximum of $28.39 per hour. Those with a master’s degree get a minimum of $22.03 and a maximum of $29.96. CPS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Dana Clippard said the hourly wages are expected to match the salaries the parent educators were receiving. That means there will be no impact on the Columbia Public School budget.
Before the vote, Clippard said she hoped the resolution would pass because the program is a very valuable resource for educating parents about the Columbia Public School system.
“We’ve talked with leadership and we’re working diligently to reach a change without any negative repercussions,” Clippard said. “Any program that strengthens families strengthens our community.”
Parent educator union spokesperson Kristine Smith was unavailable for comment but spoke in favor of the change on behalf of the union at the meeting.