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Janesville School District unveils teacher compensation proposal

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Nick Crow
Saturday, December 27, 2014

JANESVILLE — The Janesville School District is considering a new salary schedule that would link teacher pay to performance.

The board first discussed the move during a committee meeting last week, and the change could be made as early as March.

"I would ask the board to go back to our (foundational) pillars and back to the board goals when you are thinking about this," Schulte said.

Schulte said it is not her intention to cut any teacher salaries, but pay could be affected by the condition of the district's budget.

"I am committed to rewarding and recognizing staff," Schulte said. "It will sometimes be money. I hope it will often times be money.

"There are also other ways to reward staff--professional opportunities," Schulte said. "I have not been willing to cut people's salaries whether they are a stellar or mediocre educator."

The new model would tie state required educator effectiveness measures with a professional performance structure.

The Educator Effectiveness Model is one of two models being used in Wisconsin to gauge teacher performance. Tying it with supplemental pay would "validate and motivate" high quality teachers, said Kim Ehrhardt, director of instructional services for the district.

"The Educator Effectiveness Model is all about ensuring quality staff and quality principals," Ehrhardt said. "When you combine those two, you have a high quality educational experience in all of our schools."

Ehrhardt said connecting performance results with salary structure would ignite a system that fortifies the district's quality goals.

"We believe we can reach further in the quality goal if we connect the pieces," Ehrhardt said.

The new structure would place the district's 750 teachers in three tiers; beginning, developing and effective.

District officials hope the new performance structure would:

-- Attract and retain qualified teachers.

-- Define quality teaching.

-- Help teachers with professional development.

-- Promote and encourage creative thinking and learning opportunities.

Teachers would be on a three-year evaluation plan. In the first two years, they could earn supplemental increases of $250 each year. Teachers considered to be "effective" could apply to be considered "distinguished," which could lead to an increase of up to $3,000 in the third year. All figures are still in draft form and are subject to board approval.

Since the passage of Act 10, unions no longer have the ability to negotiate for anything but base wage increases based on the Consumer Price Index. That piece would still be negotiated under the new system.

Base pay is calculated using the lowest degree of education required for a position. Supplemental pay, which is wages in addition to base pay, was previously determined using steps and lanes to adjust teacher pay according to years of experience and educational credits.

In June, Janesville teachers were given a 1.46 percent base wage increase. A 1.46 percent increase also was added to all employees' supplemental pay. The new performance for pay system would apply to supplemental pay for teachers. Other staff would eventually be added to the plan, officials said.

Any future increases would depend on the budget, Schulte said.

"Regardless if you like the old plan or the new plan that we have, the budget issues remain," Schulte said. "The money that we have now is the money that we have."

The new system would evaluate practices, behaviors, knowledge, skills and strategies and measure student achievement, growth and attainment, Ehrhardt said.

The new system “assures accountability for both teachers and administrators" and "provides standards-based, performance-driven indicators that can be connected to a compensation formula," he said.

"This creates the accountability we need between both teachers and administrators," Ehrhardt said.

School board member Kevin Murray said he worries removing experience as an incentive may drive teachers from the district. He said the step and lane system is easier to understand and provides a sense of security to teachers.

"These models are much simpler and easier understood," Murray said. "It rewards experience and helps retain teachers here in our district for a long time, which is important because we need mentors. We need people to stick around."

Murray said teachers have told him they are leaving because they want to have a system they can rely on.

"They want to know that if they indeed want to buy into educator effectiveness, they want to be the best they can be for student achievement," Murray said. "But they also want to know if they stick around, they will know what they might make for their years of longevity."

Murray said the new plan would leave a lot of guess work for teachers in terms of expectations and pay.

"That's the comfort when you're a public sector employee in knowing that you can kind of see the future," Murray said. "If I'm a good employee and I stick around and I perform, I can see something out there. In this plan, there isn't. You just don't know."

Murray said groups such as the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Wisconsin Education Association Council don't want the educator effectiveness model used to determine teacher payuntil it's fully developed.

"You could debate with me and argue with me if you think our system has been fully developed, but I don't think it has," Murray said. "We haven't even finished our first full year yet. We don't know what it is, what don't know what the results will be. We don't know how we're going to begin the marriage with pay. I'm not convinced we've reached the beginning of the first step.

“I'm not ready to marry educator effectiveness with any pay," he said. "I'm not there. I don't think we're ready yet."

Schulte said the system already is used to evaluate her performance and the performance of other administrators.

"This isn't the first time we've disagreed with DPI, and I do disagree with them on this point," Schulte said. "The majority of the board wanted us to move away from seniority and also to look at performance and how we measure performance with all of us."

"To me, it stands to reason that we move to the next level of what you all adopted and decided," Schulte said. "So, we came up with a model we thought would work and be effective."

Board member Bill Sodemann said he believes students are too important to not reward and recognize the teachers who who go above and beyond.

"I can't keep supporting a system that just keeps on paying more because you have birthdays," Sodemann said. "It just doesn't make sense for us to do that."

EDUCATOR EFFECTIVENESS MODEL

The Educator Effectiveness Model takes into account six performance standards for teachers.

It measures:

-- Professional knowledge

-- Instructional planning

-- Instructional delivery

-- Assessment of/for learning

-- Learning environment

-- Professionalism

Subsets in each category would be measured to determine each teacher's level.

Certain aspects of their jobs would be evaluated by superiors.

Steve Sperry, director of administrative and human services for the district, said teachers also would be expected to show how they have succeeded at meeting performance standards. District initiatives and individual school benchmarks, among other things, would be used to measure success.



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