School work doesn't stop in summer months

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Summer vacation isn't always a summer break for Richmond County educators.

"I think that would apply for everybody," Math Coordinator Shelly Allen said. "There's always more work to do than time. I'm no different than a teacher working during the summer."

As an 11-month employee, Mrs. Allen isn't paid to work during the heart of the summer. For five weeks, she officially doesn't work, although that doesn't mean she isn't working.

This week, for instance, she crunched numbers and analyzed test scores from home.

"I didn't become an educator to become wealthy, and that continues to be true," she said.

The school system employs about 5,000 people, but only 10 percent are considered 12-month employees, Executive Director for Human Resources Norman Hill said.

"Most of our instructional staff as well as the employees that provide direct support to our instructional efforts are away during the summer," Mr. Hill wrote in an e-mail. "Administrators and staff work hard to try to coordinate and organize their work areas in the spring to manage through the summer months effectively."

The majority of employees, such as teachers, bus drivers and custodians, have shorter work years. That list also includes many key instructional leaders, such as curriculum coordinators and most principals. These employees aren't paid to work through the summer months, although some choose to have their salary dispersed over 12 months.

Still many of them work during their off time.

Garrett Elementary School Principal Paula Kaminski, whose work contract ended June 2 and begins again July 24, is going into her 30th year in education, but can't remember one summer not working in some capacity.

"It's a devotion, a passion thing," Ms. Kaminski said. "That is ultimately what drives anybody, I think, in the education field."

Her summer schedule has included registering students, landscaping and passing out paychecks.

"You don't get paid, but you're always doing stuff," she said.

Mrs. Allen said the shorter years are likely a holdover from the belief that schedules should correspond with the time children are in class.

"I certainly don't think it's the fault of anyone," she said. "If you look nationwide, that's the way it is."

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or

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