News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, April 5, 2012
DIS school board ratifies teacher contract with “innovative” performance-based pay

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DIS CSD Teacher's Contract 2011-2012
After more than one year of negotiations, the teachers union and school board agreed to this contract the first week of April, 2012. Changes include adjustments to reductions in force language and performance pay bonuses.

by Jessica Brophy

After more than a year of negotiations between the CSD school board and the Island Teachers Association for a new contract, the board ratified a 2011-12 to 2013-14 teachers contract on Tuesday, April 3. Discussion of possible changes to the teachers contract by the school board began in October of 2010.

Teachers in the CSD have been working without a current contract since July of 2011. Teachers have worked this school year under the previous contract terms.

The school board voted unanimously (6-0) to ratify the contract. The teachers union is slated to approve the contract on Thursday, April 5. Historically, the teachers union approves a contract before the school board ratifies it, but Superintendent Robert Webster said the union had not had time to meet and approve the contract prior to the school board’s April 3 meeting, and the union thought it would be better to move ahead. “I take that as a sign of a probable positive vote,” said Webster.

As the board would be voting on the negotiated contract it would become a public document, Webster explained. Board member Skip Greenlaw expressed some reservations about ratifying the agreement before the teachers had approved it.

There were two major changes to contract language. The first is a change to teacher compensation. Historically, a salary scale is negotiated for each school year within a contract. Teachers move up the scale each year, as they have more experience. There is usually a pay increase each year to each “rung” on the pay scale. For the new contract, only one salary scale was negotiated for all three years. Teachers will still move up the scale as they have more experience, but the same salary scale will be used each year.

The big change is the introduction of performance-based pay. While the teachers are guaranteed their base pay, teachers who are rated “distinguished” during evaluations will receive salary increases. For each “distinguished” rating in one of four categories of evaluation, the teacher will receive a .05 percent raise.

According to the teacher evaluation policy adopted in the fall of 2011, a summative evaluation includes four performance domains: planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibility. Summative evaluations are scheduled for each teacher every other year. Teachers can be rated distinguished, proficient, basic or unsatisfactory in each category.

This means a teacher with four distinguished ratings (one in each category) in 2010-11 could have a 2 percent increase in his or her yearly pay.

“This sort of pay for performance is pretty unusual for the state,” said Webster in a follow-up phone call. “You could call it innovative or cutting edge.” Webster said he does not know of any other school system in the state with this sort of provision.

Webster said of all the current ratings in summative evaluations, 24 percent were “distinguished.” Some teachers had four “distinguished” ratings; many others had none. In contrast, only 8 percent of the ratings were “basic” or “unsatisfactory,” he said.

The second major change involves reductions in force, or when the number of teachers needs to be reduced. The previous contract equally weighed teacher experience and teacher performance evaluations, considering seven years of teaching evaluations and giving preference in the case of a tie to teachers with the greatest number of years teaching in the CSD.

The new contract considers teachers for reduction in force by weighing teacher evaluations 60 percent and seniority 40 percent. Teachers can only be considered for reduction in force after all probationary teachers have been let go. State law was changed in 2011 to require a three-year probationary contract for teachers instead of two years. Also, only summative evaluations for the prior three years are to be considered.

For the purposes of reduction in force, each teacher is assigned points for each category depending on whether they were evaluated as distinguished, proficient, basic or unsatisfactory, with the maximum for each category as 15. Those points (up to 60) are then added to points for years of service (up to 40), from three to five years, six to nine years, 10 to 14, 15 to 19, 20 or more years. So, for instance, a teacher rated proficient in all four areas with 16 years experience would have a score of 80 and would not be considered for reduction if there are teachers with a score less than 80.