Board of Education approves pay plan

Support staff and teachers vote today

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— The Steamboat Springs School District's Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the new multi-year competitive compensation plan Wednesday night.

"I think the vote was unanimous because this is such a great thing for kids in the district, in that it is going to make Steamboat Springs School District competitive," said Tami Havener, vice president of the Board of Education. The plan "supports teachers who are truly doing remarkable things," she said.

Havener said the plan will help the district attract the very best teachers and keep the exceptional teachers already working for the district. She said she hopes teachers and support staff, who will vote on the plan today, are receptive and open-minded to it.

The multi-year competitive compensation plan will require teachers to demonstrate specific knowledge and skills during their review process to advance to the next salary level. It also would allow teachers to earn higher salaries at a quicker pace than they can under the current system.

The multi-year competitive compensation plan subcommittee has been working with Allen Odden, professor at the University of Wisconsin, and Mark Wallace of the Center for Workforce Effectiveness, to help put the plan in place. Odden has worked with other school districts across the country to create compensations plans that are similar to the multi-year competitive pay plan.

"They've helped guide the discussion along the way," said Nat Cooper, a high school teacher and member of the subcommittee. He said the plan was individualized to meet the needs of the district.

Cooper said the need for a competitive teaching salary is something that all teachers agree on. "The fact that the pay schedule is finally competitive will push the vote," he said.

Under the current pay scale, teacher salaries range from $25,926 for an entry-level teacher to a maximum of $58,145 for a teacher with 90 hours of doctoral work and 30 years of experience. Under the proposed plan, the range would be $29,075 for an entry-level teacher to $67,925 for a teacher with five years at the advanced level.

Teachers will have the opportunity to demonstrate advanced teaching skills and knowledge earlier in their career and be rewarded by reaching a higher salary level sooner than the current pay schedule would allow.

If teachers cannot meet the requirements during their evaluation, they will not advance in the pay schedule and can receive a decrease in their salary if they do not meet the evaluation criteria for two consecutive evaluations.

Superintendent Cyndy Simms said the design of the new pay plan is in the best interest for students. She said the bottom line is to ensure that students in the school district are advanced or proficient in all of their studies.

Developing greater accountability measures is something community members would like to see, Simms said.

The approval of the plan by the Board of Education is only the first step for the plan to be put into action. Both teachers and support staff will vote on the plan today and the results will be available Friday morning. If the support staff or teachers do not approve the plan by a majority vote, it will be sent back for revisions until problems arising with the plan can be resolved.

After the initial pay schedule is passed, the evaluation criteria for the new pay schedule will be written and completed during the next school year. The evaluation criteria will include skills and knowledge that teachers will have to demonstrate at their level of expertise (entry, basic, career, master and advanced) to move to the next pay level.

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