So my principal called me into his office this morning just as school started. I knew he wanted to discuss what I had learned at Americorp training. I wanted to talk about it, but had planned on talking to a couple people that had the program in their high school last year, because I guess it works very different than the elementaries.
I was right, we were going to discuss Americorp. But the financial secretary was in there as well. I assumed she was going to talk to me about how my paycheck/time card worked now. Sorta.
It turns out that not everything was communicated to my principal before he offered me the opportunity. We understood that I would do nothing different than I am doing now and the only difference was that Americorp would pay 1/2 my salary and the district the other 1/2, except the salary would be a flat fee and would increase by about $ 500-700 a month. And there would be tuition reembursment. Sounds good, yes?
Well, the program to help struggling students is good. It is helping students and making a difference in their lives. Literacy is increasing for the students.
But, there is always a but doesn't there?
I told you that as I was driving to training I was feeling extremely tired. Tired in a way that I should not. What I didn't tell you was that I was feeling very uncomfortable as well. The "I feel sick to my stomach", or "I really don't want to go" type of uncomfortable. But we all know that I am that way in new situations and even more so when I have to drive somewhere I am unfamiliar with, so I just dealt with it, happy that I no longer have panic attacks when I have to drive. But the feeling didn't go away all through the training session on Th. Or on Friday. In fact, by the time it was done on Friday I was almost in tears the uncomfortable feeling was so bad.
So back to my meeting this morning with the principal and financial secretary, it seems, by "volunteering" for Americorp I can no longer be an employee of the school district. No longer get paid by the district. No my salary is not a salary at all, but a living stipend while I "volunteer". Well, that could be ok, because it would still be more than the district pays me. But that is not all. I will loose my bonus track and retirement track. They go away. After working "x" amount of hours for the district, pay is supplemented by a boost in pay, called a bonus, when you work over that amount of hours. My bonus is nice. Not as nice as the extra for the stipend, but nice all the same.
If I do the Americorp, and am no longer an employee, and then go back to the district, I start over with no hours, no bonus, no perks or anything. It is as if I was a brand new to the district employee. I can no longer contribute to my retirement fund through the district. I can no longer substitute- which adds to my pay, because when I do that I get paid a sub wage instead of my normal wage- I can no longer work the till in the lunch room- also a supplement, 1 hour at a higher wage. No longer work the football games, like I am tonight for 4 hours at the higher wage. No longer have the time to spend counseling the students. No longer, no longer, no longer..... fill in the blanks because there are pages of them.
I need to do an internship next year. The principal and I had talked about me doing it there. If I am no longer his employee, he can't guarantee that I will be able to do that. Or if I am, he can't guarantee that it will be a paid internship. (well he can't guarantee that anyway, but if I am his employee I can at least have the internship) But if I am doing Americorp next year, then I can just move my office to the counseling office and get my internship in that way. Maybe. no promises.
I need to have a paying job while I am doing my internship. I don't want to check groceries at night after spending the day at a school. And if I do Americorp this year and decide not to next year, he can't guarantee me a job next year. But if I don't do it, then I can at least stay in my job that I am doing now, for the wage I make now and work through the counselors to get my internship hours in- an unpaid internship, but I will have a job and a boss that understands what I am doing and make me the time to do both my job and the internship.
The more the day wore on the more I didn't want to do Americorp. The more uncomfortable I got. The more students I had coming in to see me that needed counseling- the student having an anxiety attack because not only was it the 9-11 anniversary, but the 3 year anniversary of his father's death. The student that was feeling super stressed over the decisions she is having to make as a senior that will affect her for a long time, the student that______, the parent that_______, again, fill in the blanks because there were 6.5 hours of them. I have never had that many in one day before.
Then I checked my mail and the comments from yesterday's post. Yeah. I called one of the women from the other high school. She went home sick and wouldn't get my message until Monday. After I have to make my decision.
So I did what I told one of my students to do. Make the decision and live with it for a couple of days and see how you feel. Then make it the other way and live with it. If you listen to your gut, you will know what to do.
I am not saying one way or the other just yet- I need to do some fact checking and a lot of praying first. But let me say this, everytime I have had this uncomfortable feeling and explained it away or ignored it or talked myself into ignoring it-- it has turned out not good and has taken me years and years at times to repair the damage to my spiritual/emotional/physical life. In fact I am still dealing with the fall out from 6 years ago. I don't know that I have that much reserve left.
I'll let you know Monday.