When to give leaving notice? Does salary stop in May?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by mah326, Mar 20, 2020.

  1. mah326

    mah326 Rookie

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    Mar 20, 2020

    This is my first full time teaching position. Things didn't go very well for me at my current school. Basically, things didn't turn out to be the same as was described to me during the interview. Also teamwork to them means doing whatever one designated team member decides we're going to do in terms of HW, tests, labs, planning, activities, discussions, notes, etc. The school is top notch and the pay is great, but I'm unhappy and want to leave. I applied to another great school across country back where I came from, interviewed and they offered me the position and matched the pay. Now I'm not sure when I should be giving notice to my current school. Technically asap, because they need to interview my replacement. However, since I'm new to this, I don't know if my last paycheck will be at the end of the school year (end of May) as a result or end of summer. I feel that I deserve to be paid through the summer, since this is what would have happened, had I decided to stay with them - I worked hard for it all throughout the year. An alternative (which I think would be immoral to do) is that I don't give notice until midway through the summer, in which case I get paid and they scramble to find a replacement once I give my notice.

    They also have me tied up by the contract I signed which states that I'd have to pay back the placement fee they paid to CS&A as well as the relocation money they gave me (7K), if I leave at the end of my first school year. Is this something I can negotiate upon leaving?

    I feel like I'm either forced to stay another year at my current school because I can't afford to leave it, or I can do the immoral and put them in a difficult situation by giving a late notice. The latter choice probably means I cannot use them as references for future jobs.

    If you would kindly give me your insights, I would be grateful.
     
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  3. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Mar 20, 2020

    Look at your contract. It states a starting and end date. You resign based on the end date. You can give it to them now if you wish, but put that it is effective June 30, 2020 (or whatever the end date is for your contract.) They owe you the full payment of your contract (whatever dollar amount was stated in your contract) -- not a specific monthly amount. If your salary for the school year was listed as $49.532, and you complete the school year, then they owe you $49,532 is salary (pre-tax and deductions.) Just make sure you don't sign that you are resigning on the last day of school -- make sure your resignation date matches the end date of your contracted school year.

    As to the placement fee and relocation money, they didn't "tie you up" -- you agreed to it when you accepted the job, to pay it back if you left after the first year, and you are leaving after the first year. You owe them the money. There is no negotiation there -- why wouldn't they require the full amount? You agreed and they are entitled to it. Why would they want to negotiate with you on that? Negotiation only works when BOTH parties have something the other wants. You are already contractually bond to finish the school year, so you have no leverage to negotiate.

    If you were unhappy enough to seek employment in a different state, interview, and accept -- they you don't want to stay at that school for another year.
     
  4. mah326

    mah326 Rookie

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    Mar 20, 2020

    Thank you so much, RainStrom, for the response.
     
  5. mah326

    mah326 Rookie

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    Thank you so much, RainStrom, for the response. I am actually not seeing any part of my contract mentioning an end day or end of fiscal year. It states the beginning day and for the salary and it says I would "be paid a monthly salary based on an annual salary of xyz." - Nothing about end date or end of fiscal year. I'm afraid it means that I am only entitled to my monthly salary as long as they consider me employed.

    You are absolutely right about me agreeing to the contract terms. I meant by them having me tied up by the contract that they intended for it to be this way when they proposed it and I signed. It worked exactly they way they intended! About the negotiation part, it is likely wishful thinking on my part, but the head of school during a meeting told me that if I'm not comfortable here, I may want to think about moving somewhere else. So it gave me an impression that they don't mind me leaving after one year and that if I go back to them and say "yes I'd like to leave, but I can't afford to pay back the fees", they might be able to negotiate it. After all, it is a wealthy school.
     
  6. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Mar 20, 2020

    Many districts pay the annual salary by breaking down the salary into 12 equal pay periods, whereas I have been employed at districts that don't budget your pay for you, meaning that I am responsible for allocating my salary to last me the entire year. Your post sounds as if you are being paid in 12 equal payments. It doesn't matter how they pay you, because you will earn your entire annual salary either way. Because some people hate having to figure out how they need to budget to make the annual salary lasts over 12 months, many districts simply take the annual salary and pay it out as 12 identical payments, 1/12 of the salary pie. If you agreed to the terms of the contract, which apparently clearly stated what money you will be obligated to pay back if you leave your current job at the end of your current contract year, it won't matter when you submit your notice, because you will be obligated to teach to the last day that school is in session, and your pay will continue over the summer, with a couple of payments coming to you to complete the salary that was guaranteed in your contract.

    And just as your contract will guarantee how much and how frequently you will be paid, your contract also spells out your obligation to repay monies that were a benefit to you, giving you, in essence, an advance on your salary so that you would be able to relocate without undue hardship. However, since you are not staying with your current employer, you most certainly are obligated to repay the advance on salary that your current employer extended to you. Expect your current employer to come after you for several thousand dollars that are spelled out clearly as an advance, and whether or not your current employer is "wealthy" is not something that you get to judge.
     
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  7. mah326

    mah326 Rookie

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    Mar 20, 2020


    Thank you for the response. If it turns out that I will still get paid over the summer even after giving my notice to leave at the end of the school year, then I will be able to pay back the relocation and placement fees and break even.
    I just have to organize my thoughts before I have a conversation with the head of school and inform them of this. I'm pretty sure the other school will want me to give them a response early this coming week.
    Just out of curiosity, have you heard of a teacher discuss the possibility of leaving at the end of the school year with the admin, but then changing mind and staying? Is everything awkward afterwards?
     
  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Mar 21, 2020

    I believe once that conversation about leaving has occurred, the genie is out of the bottle, and everything would, indeed, be awkward once that conversation has taken place.
    This may be the answer to your question. It sounds like neither side is happy with how things are playing out.
     
  9. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Mar 21, 2020

    mah326,
    You say you have an offer from another school in another state. A couple of things come to mind here, so bear with me.
    • Are you already certified in the other state?
    • Is it a firm offer (do you have the offer in writing) from the new place? Is the pay in the written offer?
    • I have to ask -- what kind of school gives an offer without checking the reference of your previous principal? That is a huge red-flag to me. You say you are a first year teacher, so the school that you are at is the only reference from a place where you have actually taught. Not checking with that reference (formally or informally) is odd. It is a huge red flag.

    Are you sure you aren't jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire? It sounds like for your current job, what they said didn't match reality. Are you sure that the new school will be better in terms of this?

    First years rarely go the way we want them. They are always stressful, with a steep learning curve. As a new teacher, it is normal for another more experienced teammate to take lead -- not all that unusual, and you will find that everywhere. Just an observation.

    You mention that you need to give notice "asap." That is not really true. Have you signed a letter of intent? Letters of intent are not binding -- they just give admin an idea of who is planning to stay and who knows already that they are leaving. It is kind to let admin know when letters of intent come out that you are considering other options, but it is not legally required. Always say you plan to return until you know, concretely, that you are not. By concretely, I mean you have a signed contract for another place, you have rented a new apartment, you have made your travel arrangements -- not that you are simply considering a move and putting out feelers. Leave your options open. You are clearly still wiffle-waffling -- and that is okay, but you don't need to say anything to admin yet. The only reason to rush to offer your resignation is to avoid a non renewal, and that doesn't sound like it is the case here.

    It is typical that teachers let their school know they are leaving when it is time for contracts. When you receive your contract for the next year, you set up an appointment with your principal, and let him know you are not returning for the next year. That is how it works. That leaves them time to look for a replacement. That fulfills your obligation. The rest of it isn't your concern. Trust me on this -- the cards are already stacked in favor of the school -- they have a one year contract that they can break (without giving a reason) but you cannot break. They get to decide if they want to renew you. Everything is in their favor.

    You keep mentioning "late notice" of not returning -- but they are the ones who set the schedule! They schedule when letters of intent and contracts for the next year go out. Most schools send out contracts in June. This is March. You have 3 months before you need to cross this road. Have they already given you a contract to sign for next year? (Not just a letter of intent, but an actual "locks you in" contract?) If not, are worrying about this way too soon. Wait until they send out formal contracts. That is how it works in education.

    Last observation. You have a lot going for you at your current school. You have great pay. It is a good school. They paid you moving expenses! That is unheard of in education.

    You say you are unhappy, but the only reason you gave was because a teammate is "running the show." Well, hon, that happens everywhere you go. Even if your "new" school has promised you it will be different, you have no way to know if that is true. What they say rarely matches what actually exists -- you already learned that this year.

    And even worse than one person who "runs the show" is a department where no one works together as a team at all (and that is very common place, too -- especially in private schools) and everyone is scrambling to do his/her own thing, and is always re-inventing the wheel, or worse yet, constantly arguing each other, with no resolution.

    You may want more input into designing the homework, assignments, and tests -- but have you ever worked at a school where you are not provided with basic resources, other teachers don't want to work together, and you are stuck creating each and every homework assignment, classwork assignment, project, and test yourself? Are you really willing to spend 10-20 hours a week of your own time to do this, each and every week of the school year? It is not only majorly time consuming, it is overwhelming.

    Have you ever worked at a school where every teacher has equal input by splitting things up (you do the homework, you do the classwork, you do the projects, you do the tests) and none of it is cohesive? Or worse yet, one colleague repeatedly "drops the ball" and leaves the rest scrambling on a regular basis, or whose quality is lacking, making the rest of you uncomfortable in the end product? There are much worse things than a "runs the show" colleague. You may be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

    Have you even addressed your "unhappiness" issue with your boss? Have you gone to him and said "I'm not really happy here because I don't feel that my contributions are valued? Everything seems to be decided by one person, and I don't feel like I have adequate input. It is making me want to explore other options? How can I be a more equal member of this teaching team?" Have you approached anyone about this who is in authority over you AND the "runs the show" teacher?

    Sometimes the people in charge assume everything is fine until they hear differently. They are so involved in their day-to-day operations, that they are oblivious to what is going on, or a teacher's unhappiness.

    Believe it or not, some teachers like it when one teacher takes charge and makes the decisions (I'm not one of them, but there are many who prefer it that way.) Have you spoken up (to someone in authority who can make changes in this process) and let him/her know this is a problem to you? Some administrators instruct more experienced teachers to take the leadership role when it comes to new, first year teachers -- because they think they are helping out and taking the stress off? It is very common by administrators. Are you sure this isn't the case?

    You are obviously not sure of exactly what you want to do. Make a pros and cons list for each school. It may help you to see things more clearly. Please don't rush into giving your notice. You seem to feel that it is "wrong" or "immoral" to take the time to decide that you are legally afforded. It isn't. You are putting that unnecessary stress on yourself.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2020
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  10. mah326

    mah326 Rookie

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    First of all, I very much appreciate the time and effort you put into your response. Yes, I am new to this and admit that there is a lot to learn. To clarify, I have been teaching at private schools and the new offer is from another private school too. The offer is not in a letter yet, but it was discussed in a post interview phone call and an email. I don't need to be certified for private schools. Also the new school offered me a relocation stipend, so it doesn't seem unusual in the independent school world.
    I have not heard anything about letters of intent and the semester only has two months before it's over. This is my first full time high school teaching position, but I taught part time before that at another private school and 5 years of before that at college level while earning my PhD. They did check my references at the first school and my graduate supervisor. I asked them to not contact my current school.

    While it is very easy for me to just take all the plans, HW, tests etc from the lead teachers and sit back and relax, it isn't really what I signed up for at the beginning. In fact, during the interview I was explicitly told by admin that they needed help finding a new curriculum for the course I'm currently teaching, which was a big factor in my decision making process. However, what was said by the admin didn't match what the team wanted. On my first day of course planning right before school, I was told that they already have a great curriculum and didn't even give me a chance to review it. They literally told me that I was going to listen and do exactly what they are doing and that my degree or little experience didn't matter (I never mentioned my degree while talking to them). It almost felt that they were unhappy with the admin offering me the position. I ended up having no say in anything and my suggestions were usually met with dismissal. I gave up and started letting them run the show, but I ended up being reported later on for not contributing enough (and somehow) also "resisting training". When I clarified my position to the admin, They agreed with me, they were very respectful, but asked me to wait for my chance to contribute in a couple of years and in the meantime utilize the opportunity to learn from the experienced ones. Also from what I've noticed, the admin of this school seems to know every tiny thing that happens, they even have security cameras in the classrooms.

    If it's about helping me out in my first year, I wouldn't have ended up with the largest number of students per one teacher in the entire school. Instead, I was a good sport and took it as something to challenge myself to keep the job interesting.

    I totally realize that there are much worse situations than the one I'm dealing with, but it isn't just a one person runs show issue. It doesn't feel good to be working with a team that isn't happy working with you and spreading false rumors about you to other departments. I hate drama and gossiping (about admin, students, parents, etc.) and this seems to be the culture of this school. I refused to engage in it since the beginning, but it ended up isolating me. I thought this was just a job where I show up, work with my teammates, teach kids, attend meetings, events, etc. and then go home. Didn't realize that I must socialize and use my free periods and after school hours to visit and chat with other teachers. Most of the time I don't have work to do at home because I finish my work during my free periods or lunch break. It looks like I was doing it wrong and need a do-over.

    I've already made a detailed pros and cons list for both my current school and the prospective one. The new one won by a decent margin, even though I entered several points of cons as "unknown" for the new school.

    About me holding on giving notice, the reason I feel bad about it is that I know this is the time to interview teachers for next year. I feel bad making the admin scramble over the summer to find someone else, who also won't be able to give a demo lesson because school won't be in session. There is mutual respect and understanding between me and the principle, and I feel that talking to her sincerely will be the best option.
     
  11. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Mar 22, 2020

    Just let me say that you are very lucky that being licensed is not a requirement. Also, I would love to be paid to relocate, but it isn't all that common, yet you have found 2 jobs in a row that will offer you a relocation stipend.
     
  12. Pisces

    Pisces Companion

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    Jun 4, 2020

    This is common among independent schools. I posted about this in another thread just now. A friend of mine works at an independent school here in Atlanta and they paid for her relocation. She had to agree to work for two years at that school. Another colleague of mine moved to NYC to teach at an independent school where they paid for his move and his housing (studio apartment attached to the school.) These schools charge $30 - $40K in tuition, respectively, and so they can afford to do that.
    However, with Covid-19 causing enrollment to drop, I don't know if these independent schools will do that. They might.
    I worked at one of these schools up until two weeks ago when the school year ended. I did not renew my contract and while I am focusing on me for the next few months, I feel the pull to return to public school.
    I am not sure yet. There are pros and cons to working in each.
    (To go off on a tangent: About not being licensed - I am credentialed and went through a teacher prep program since I started off in public schools. Most independent schools do not require licenses / credentials. There was a young, fresh out of college person with a business degree who was hired to teach math. They hired this person because they were willing to coach several different sports. This person struggled so much because they didn't have the proper training and also quit this year.)
     

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