Where I come from, New Jersey, there isn't much room for negotiation if you
are an art teacher, but a heck of a lot of room if you are a math or science
teacher. It depends on shortages. If you are interviewing in areas that
have shortages of art teachers, then you have a bit of 'wiggle' room.
Benefits are locked in stone as far as I know (i.e. medical benefits, sick
days) and salary is 'negotiated' by unions and placed on guides and
steps...the only thing, again in New Jersey, that one can 'negotiate' is
your placement on the step of the guide based on your experience. So for
example if you have 3 years experience, you would slide onto step 3 unless
of course the community is desperate for an art teacher and there's a
shortage, and then if you go in with that knowledge and a strong stomach you
can negotiate up to step 5 or 6. (math and science teachers have been able
to wield that power).
If you are indeed worried about the money, then as a teacher, you look at
the top of the guide, because that is where your retirement is based.
As far as 'negotiating' for working conditions, you have to be a detective
when interviewing. Ask to see the teaching space, then ask about storage,
how many kids are supposed to fit in that space, etc. Ask how many art
teachers there are in the district. (for example do you want to be the low
man on the totem pole, the first one laid off if it comes to that? Do you
want to be transferred to the elementary school or high school because there
is a person on the verge of retirement?) Ask what the turnover rate IS for
art teachers in the district. Ask what the budget is and who does the
ordering. Ask who the superviser of the Art department is. Ask about when
the curriculum was last revised, and who did the revising, and then ask to
SEE the curriculum.
Of course if you ask all of these questions, they (the interviewing
committee) might say "NEXT!" Remember they have the upper hand, and you
might NOT find out the answers to any of your questions!
When I was looking for a teaching job, I took anything that I
could...knowing my personality, I knew I could eventually craft the job into
what I wanted. It took about 15 years, but I did manage to customize the
job. Like Woody, I wonder where the time went! I start my 26th year in
September, and am going for 3-6 more!