JANESVILLE

The Janesville School Board and teachers union agree: The school district’s new salary schedule will help attract and retain good teachers.

The school board Tuesday unanimously approved a new salary structure for teachers, social workers, school psychologists and counselors, effective for the 2018-19 school year.

Dave Groth, president of the Janesville Education Association, the union that represents teachers, said his members believe the new structure is predictable and rewards professional development—something teachers wanted.

Groth also described it as “fair” and “competitive.”

That’s exactly what the district was looking for.

The district officials who designed the system wanted a salary structure that would emphasize teacher growth and professional development, help the district attract and retain teachers, and be economically sustainable over time, according to a memo from Scott Garner, assistant superintendent of administrative and human services.

Here’s how the system will work:

It has eight levels with several steps within each level. Each step represents a year of teaching.

To advance to the next level, teachers must complete a certain amount of professional training or earn graduate credits. Both graduate credits and the professional training must be pre-approved, and the training must align with the district’s five-year promises.

The promises are five-year goals in areas such as “student and school success” and “culture and climate.”

Gone are the days when teachers could sign up for whatever professional development courses they wanted or pursue master’s degrees in subjects not necessarily related to their jobs, Superintendent Steve Pophal said in an interview before the meeting.

In addition, teachers must remain on a level for a certain number of years before moving up.

For example, level one has four steps, each one representing a year of teaching. If a teacher’s contract is renewed after each year, he or she is entitled to a $1,200 raise.

Teachers are required to stay at level one for at least two years, with certain exceptions.

To move to level two, teachers would have to tally 90 approved hours of professional development. Those hours could include district professional training or credits from approved graduate courses.

If level-one teachers have not completed 90 hours of professional development after four years at level one, they no longer get raises. Instead, each year they would receive $500 stipends.

In moving from level one to level two, educators receive an additional $3,600 on top of their base salaries.

That is the largest raise educators can receive when moving between levels. After that, advancing from one level to another results in a raise of $2,400.

If teachers advance through a level without receiving the needed professional development, their salaries will be frozen.

Teachers are required to earn an average of 45 hours of professional development a year. In an interview, Pophal said he thought it was important for the public to know that those 45 hours are over and above their teaching duties. Teachers are not paid for professional development days.

In addition, the cost of professional development comes out of the teachers’ pockets. For example, six credits of graduate school work equal 90 hours of professional development. At UW-Whitewater, six credits of graduate work cost about $3,000.

However, Pophal hopes to change that by offering professional development for teachers in June and August.

A third piece of the salary structure allows teachers to earn additional money through collective merit pay. If teachers work in schools that meet their “building goals,” they will get $100 added to their base salaries.

A building goal could be something such as “improve all math scores by 5 percent.”

If the district reaches one of its goals, all teachers are eligible for another $100 on top of their base salaries. An example of a district goal is “90 percent of students will graduate with a dual-credit course”—which is a course that gives students both college and high school credit.

The new salary schedule will start new teachers at a salary of $42,000.

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