Concerned about what it called misconceptions of its stance toward a pay and evaluation system for Steamboat Springs School District teachers, the School Board on Monday voiced support for the developing system and the committee working on it.
Under the Knowledge and Skills-Based Pay system, district employees would be evaluated for their performances in the classroom and paid accordingly. Teachers have the potential to move up the pay scale quickly and reach higher salary levels much faster than the traditional tenure model used by most public school districts.
Included in the top branches of the KSBP pay scale, which was approved more than a year ago by the School Board and district employees, are salaries higher than the school district has ever paid its teachers.
At their Sept. 23 retreat, some School Board members expressed concern with the potential financial impact of KSBP on the district's budget. School Board member Tom Sharp raised the issue of whether a veto mechanism would be put in place to allow the superintendent to keep a teacher from moving up the pay scale if the district couldn't afford that raise.
The mention of veto power or quotas on the number of teachers who could be placed in the top level of the KSBP pay scale raised concerns of some district teachers, Steamboat Springs Education Association representative Bo Yennie said at Monday's School Board study session. Veto power could be a great "demotivator" for staff, Yennie said.
School Board President Paul Fisher said he wanted to clarify the board's stance on KSBP, particularly that veto power and quotas were just ideas that floated around during the retreat.
"The School Board is not putting forth their opinions on how (KSBP) needs to be done," Fisher said. "There are lots of things going on in KSBP. The KSBP committee needs to be commended for an enormous task it is undertaking."
The School Board, as its legal responsibility, remains concerned about the financial ramifications of the pay system, Fisher and other School Board members said.
"The KSBP compensation program does have the potential to bust the budget," Fisher said.
But Fisher said the School Board is not telling district staff or the KSBP committee how the system needs to be constructed, but rather is emphasizing the need for fiscal responsibility to be addressed in the final plan. The board is open to and awaiting feedback from the committee on its ideas to address some of the financial issues, he said.
Celia Dunham, a Strawberry Park Elementary School teacher and member of the KSBP committee, told the School Board it needs to be more sensitive of its public comments, even if board members are just floating ideas around the table.