Mike Smith: Clarifying KSBP

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As a teacher who has worked on the Knowledge and Skills Based Pay evaluation and the multi-year compensation committees, I would like to clarify several misconceptions in your Wednesday editorial.

First, KSBP was never designed to be a salary system all by itself. It is a research-based salary schedule and evaluation system, adapted from districts across the country, to fit our schools and the desires of the community for increased teacher accountability. It contains 14 professional standards that measure excellent teaching. But, by itself, KSBP did not meet all of the Board parameters for designing a new pay system.

Second, KSBP was not designed to replace Pay for Performance. The two were meant to complement each other as a complete salary package. Where KSBP measures individual accountability, PFP was to measure student outcomes. PFP was "scrapped" because there was a belief, by some, that it had become an adjunct to regular salary. This occurred because some people felt that the only reliable data to use for measurable student outcomes were CSAP tests. The CSAP tests focus specifically on reading, writing and mathematics, just three of the 12 academic areas in Board Policy R-2: Academic Achievement. Since our students score well on CSAP tests the schools frequently reached or exceeded their goals. In most businesses when a goal is set, reached and then exceeded, that business usually will set a new goal. In our schools, we were never allowed set goals in any other academic areas, thus PFP did appear to become an adjunct to salary.

Third, a financial analysis was completed before KSBP being approved by the School Board and the staff. The original analysis indicated that KSBP was affordable over a period of several years. There also was discussion that there would come a time when the district would need to find more revenue, or begin to use some of the $6.7 million from reserves. The School Board, and Dr. Cyndy Simms, repeatedly assured staff that if we approved this salary package, they would find the money to fund KSBP. As a member of the KSBP team, I do not believe that we were "wasting more time" on something that we believed was "financially unrealistic."

Fourth, we have researched other districts that have developed alternative compensation systems. The Douglas County system was in place when we began discussing KSBP and PFP. It was determined that it would not meet the parameters set by the board, and thus, was eliminated. Eagle County has a system set up by the Milken Family Foundation much like the Douglas County system. This system contains a traditional salary schedule with a bonus system for student outcomes. And, Eagle County is currently funding their bonus features out of reserves. And Denver, while attractive, is also costly. That is why they will be asking their voters for a $25 million mill levy override this fall. But, for comparison, Denver's base pay is about $33,000, ours is $29,500. Just to match Denver's starting salary we would need to increase our base pay by 10 percent. KSBP, even with the "high cost," would only raise our salaries by about 6 percent.

Finally, I would just like to say that I believe the teachers and staff in this district would embrace objective accountability. This is one of the reasons we approved KSBP. I believe that the teachers and staff of this district accepted and met the challenge that the board set out in its parameters three years ago. We spent thousands of person hours, mostly uncompensated, to develop a pay and accountability system that might have been revolutionary and of which our community could have been proud. I want to thank the community for its past and future support and ask for its patience as, at the Board's direction, we begin again.

Mike Smith

Teacher, KSBP team member

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