Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Steamboat Springs When the Educational Excellence Commission presents its 2003-04 funding recommendations to the Education Fund Board, pay for performance may not be among them.
The nine-member commission, which is an arm of the Education Fund Board, rejected funding the pay-for-performance teacher and staff compensation system by a 5-2 vote Monday. Two commission members were absent.
The Educational Excellence Commission will present its recommendations to the Education Fund Board on March 5.
Numerous problems with the current pay-for-performance system led to the Monday vote, commission member Brian Kelly said.
"There's a perception in the public's eye that it's more like merit pay," Kelly said. "The reality of the system is that virtually everybody gets the same money."
The system also fails to address curriculum areas besides reading, writing and math -- the subjects tested by the Colorado Student Assessment Program standardized test, he said.
"It's got too narrow a focus," Kelly said. "That's partly how the system is broke."
Kelly said the commission still could recommend funding pay for performance if the system is adjusted. However, Fund Board President Jim Gill said that if the group does not ask for funding at the March 5 meeting, the money will likely be allocated to other district needs.
One of the commission's options is to recommend pay-for-performance funding on a first reading at the March 5 meeting, Gill said. If, subsequently, the pay-for-performance system is not adjusted to the commission's liking, it could withdraw that request before the recommendations are taken to a second reading.
As of late Tuesday, Gill had not spoken to any members of the Educational Excellence Committee about the issue.
"If the plan comes back in an acceptable form to everyone involved, it would be reconsidered," Kelly said. "It's far from dead, in my opinion. The concept of pay for performance is very much alive."
The commission's vote could end up being a catalyst for speedy pay-for-performance reform.
"We've got three months (until the end of the school year) to come up with a plan," Steamboat Springs Education Association President Mike Smith said. "Hopefully, we can continue pay for performance uninterrupted. It's going to be tough. My fear is that the money (needed to fund pay for performance) will get allocated somewhere else."
Any change to the system will have to go through the district's Collaborative Bargaining Team and be approved by teachers, staff and the school board.
The school district's administration team previously recommended allocating $400,000 of EFB money to keep pay for performance operational for the 2003-04 school year.
"We recommended that they fund it, but they chose not to," Director of Content Standards Kelly Stanford said. "My perspective is that (the Educational Excellence Commission) supports the idea but it's not satisfied the current plan is meeting the needs of everyone involved."
Stanford serves as a non-voting district adviser to the commission.
Pay for performance uses student performance on CSAP tests to determine how much bonus money teachers and staff are awarded each year.
Bonuses also are awarded based on how well schools teach students the virtues and success and self-understanding goals defined by school board policy.
General consensus seems to be that the system needs to change, as teachers, staff and other people involved with pay for performance -- like District Accountability Committee members and community audit team members -- have complained about numerous aspects of the system.
The Fund Board allocates revenue generated from a half-cent sales tax for growth, technology and educational excellence to various school district projects, programs and improvements. The Technology Commission, Educational Excellence Commission and Capital Commission vie for the sales tax funds. The 13-member Fund Board hears requests from the three commissions and allocates funds based on those recommendations. The Fund Board can only allocate funds based on those recommendations; it cannot generate its own recommendations.
The Fund Board will make allocations for the 2003-04 school year at the end of March, after each commission has presented its requests.